Saturday, October 26, 2019

Visiting Brian Moore

I had the marvelous opportunity to visit Brian Moore’s fine layout, depicting the Southern Pacific in 1954, during the second week of October. He and his wife Jane live in Plymouth, England, and he has an actual basement, something not common at all in Britain. As many know, he has an ambitious layout in progress. But the part already done, depicting Guadalupe, California, has become well recognized because of Brian’s excellent modeling and equally good photography.
     My wife Mary and I traveled from London to Brian’s home in Plymouth, using the railway service now very appropriately named the Great Western Railway. Of course today’s equipment is a far cry from the days of steam (here’s our train at Paddington in London — note the train shed).

We began our visit with a walk round historic Plymouth, including the single remaining piece of the original Great Western broad gauge, as designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 19th century (and not standard-gauged until 1892). Here (from left) Brian, me, and Mary are demonstrating the width in this bit of surviving dual-gauge track.

     The layout was a joy to examine and then to operate. We began by running some through trains, such as this double-headed “Coast Mail” (the steam plumes have somehow crept into the photo in post-processing on Brian’s part).

Then we wanted to switch Guadalupe. Brian is only at the planning stage on paperwork for switching, and I accordingly brought him lots of examples of how I do waybills. Then we set to work, with Brian’s friend Paul Burton and I taking turns. Here I am with throttle in hand, with Paul observing.

Here’s a shot of Brian’s SP 2-8-0 no. 2829, at work during the switching.

When we wrapped up, Jane came downstairs to take a photo of the team. From left, it’s Brian, Paul and me.

     Of course we didn’t only run trains. From my prior residence in England, I know how tasty the beer can be, so naturally we all went “down the pub,” as locals would say (another photo by Jane).

I have to confess there was more than one of these visits.
     All in all, it was a great couple of days. Mary and I enjoyed Brian and Jane’s wonderful hospitality, including seeing Plymouth with the guidance of locals. Plus the layout was terrific, and yes, the beer was excellent too. It was the very model of some modern layout visiting!
Tony Thompson


  1. Sounds like you may have visited Penzance, too.

  2. Sounds like an awesome visit. So glad that you had such a great time.

  3. Huge thanks for the great write-up, Tony! It was an absolute pleasure and privilege for Jane I to have Mary and yourself visit us in Plymouth for a couple of days. Paul (Burton!) and I have subsequently been very busy looking at how we will eventually run the railroad, and will be making lots of use of your supplied paperwork. I wonder if we can fit in Shumala, in between Oceano and Callender? And now back to laying lower staging tracks.