Cromwell Road - original trackplan

Cromwell Road (4mm scale, EM gauge)

Background - the West London Railway

In the early years of railways in London, a line was built from the London and Birmimingham and the Great Western south towards the Kensington Canal. It met the canal at Kensington Basin, very close to the current Kensington Olympia station, and opened in 1844. Partly because the canal was tidal, interchange traffic was disappointing, and the passenger numbers were very poor – the line stopped operations within a few months.

The Great Western wanted to use the line as a means of crossing the River Thames, but the financial constraints of the late 1840s prevented any progress. Eventually plans were drawn up jointly between the Great Western, the London North Western, the London, Brighton & South Coast and the London & South Westerns railways to build the West London Extension Railway south from Kensington, crossing the Thames at Battersea. The WLER remain nominally independent until Nationalisation.

As part of the planning of the route south across the Thames, a line was proposed leaving the WLER near Earls Court swinging to the east to a terminus south of Hyde Park. The Club’s research team have uncovered a map from the period showing both the proposed lines. This proposed line, with its terminus near Hyde Park, is the subject of our layout.

The map image in the gallery is taken from the 1844 map drawn by Benjamin Rees Davies. The original is part of the Crace Collection in the British Museum, and can be viewed on line.

A layout under construction

Cromwell Road is the club’s new EM gauge layout and is currently under construction. It is a split level layout with the passenger facilities on the upper level and the goods facilities on the lower level The main baseboards are complete and much of the track has been laid.

It is a ‘might have been layout’ designed to allow the members’ various modelling interests to be catered for when being operated.

The layout has already had a long and chequered career, having been proposed in 2010 as Brentford Riverside.Since then, the layout has moved 5 miles east towards the West End, has been lengthened, and now has both fiddle yards at one end. The layout is at the ‘truculant teenager’ stage, but we have high hopes for it as it develops and matures.


Anyone familiar with the history of the West London will know about the wide variety of traffic and services that have used some or all the line over the years – it is one of the few places where locomotives and trains from all four Grouping companies, and their Regional successors, could be seen on the same line. This has been a major attraction, and there are a number of layouts which use the West London as their inspiration.

By making our layout the terminus of the proposed eastern extension, and giving it a triangular junction near Earls Court, we aim to capture the variety of services which could have developed with a terminus in the Knightsbridge area.

We’re thinking of starting each operational sequence with all steam, and ending up with the mixture of steam and diesel evident around 1964.

Passenger (upper level)

The operational period of the layout is mid 50s to early 60s. This allows the use of both pre- and post-nationalisation stock … carriages and vans, steam locos and diesels. The operation is based upon a weekday to provide the widest range of services, with local commuter trains, cross-country trains, and inter-regional trains. At various times, the West London saw passenger traffic from all over the country, and our layout will develop the theme.

Goods (lower level)

Part of the back story sees a canal extension being built towards Hyde Park, and this features on the layout’s western end … but in a semi-derelict state. The small low level yard which was built to service the canal, as well as local traders, has found a new lease of life with a parcels depot, now under the auspices of BRS. Kensington on the West London was the scene of much parcels traffic, both received and as a point of interchange between the northern and southern lines. We’ve anticipated that part of that traffic would have been at Cromwell Road.

The layout will be DCC in operation, giving us the opportunity for sound fitted locos to be used. As the high level and low level are electrically independent of each other, apart from a total lack of electrical supply, there will always be at least one ‘layout’ operating to maintain visitor interest at exhibitions.

Exhibition Managers Notes

Contact: David McCarthy



  • Model (size)
  • Space required (size)
  • One table & two chairs required
  • Six operators (two shifts of three)
  • Operated from front & behind
  • Transport: hire van & two cars required.

Cromwell Road image carousel

Where to see Cromwell Road

No date yet for completion of the layout.