Brighton Model Railway Club

Club members layouts - Kensington Olympia

N scale 1980 by Andy Gibbs

Page last updated 08/10/2014

My US n scale layout Minty Colorado has come to the end of its life.  After several exhibitions I decided that with the vast improvement in quality and range of British n scale that a change was due. Time to model something a little closer to home. Minty was just a bit too big within the loft space and despite the open construction of the baseboards was also large and awkward to move. After several unsuccessful attempts to sell the layout, it has now been broken up. Everything that could be reused was carefully removed from the layout, including points and motors, electrical equipment such as multi-pin connector plugs, transformers, controllers and connecting blocks. The bolts and captive nuts are also being reused.

I have always had a fascination for Kensington Olympia, a huge station with very little passenger service ( unlike today ). Over two years of research, several visits and lots of photos and plans I am now in a position to start the layout. The layout will be based initially in 1979 / 1980. This allows me to run Motorail services, the Kenny Belle shuttles to and from Clapham Jct and the limited Manchester to Brighton services for which I have done a lot of research for my website In addition there is a lot of Inter - regional freight workings through the station including parcels, nuclear flasks and traffic for the train ferry at Dover. Plenty of trains to run then...............

Several lessons learnt from building Minty have been used, especially to lighten the baseboards. A trip to Wenban-Smith in Lewes with the timber cutting list on graph paper and within two days all the timber was delivered.  Frames are built of 9mm exterior ply with tops made from 6mm ply. Each board is 1220 x 610mm in size which means just 7 boards complete the rectangular shape of the layout approx 10ft x 8ft.   A jig was made so that all the pieces of timber were cut to the same size and had bolt fixing holes etc in the same place. 20mm baton was used to strengthen corners and make the locators to slot the legs in. Legs were made from 33mm square timber and slot into the baseboards.  At this point I had intended to have legs of every board, i.e. 14 sets of legs but the unevenness of the loft floor meant that I removed approx 50% of the legs and fitted adjustable feet to the rest. This has worked very well. The layout is nice and level and very sturdy now it's bolted together.

The pile of partially pre cut timber from Wenban-Smith on the garage floor..


The cutting jig for the stretchers. Each board is 610mm wide the stretchers are 592mm wide to allow for the 9mm ply sides.


A kit of parts to make the frame for one baseboard. Holes pre drilled in the centre stretcher for cable runs and part drilled through at the ends for bolt holes. Sides are 1220mm long precut at the timber yard. Joints are strengthened with 20mm baton.

These three images show the method of attaching legs to the baseboards and attaching adjacent baseboards. The legs slot between the two batons.


This one of the leg adjusters.


Left to Right: Nice and Level baseboards and a tight joint. Setting out pointwork, Overall view of the loft.


The track layout of Kensington Olympia was very complicated until the mid 1980's when it was seriously rationalised.  As a result of space limitations several of the bay platforms will be omitted from the layout, even so there will still be 3 Motorail bays 5 bay platforms and the two main through platforms. I hope to include some working signalling which in real life was mixture of GWR and LNWR.   The track layout will follow shortly, once I've wroked out how much (or little !) I can fit in. Track will be PECO Code 55 on wooden sleepers with Electrofrog points throughout. This will be laid on a cork trackbed. 



Pictures above show the track layout I am working from. Left is Olympia, right is from Earls Court to Olympia. This was a BR produced hand drawn track diagram from Clapham Junction through the West and North London lines. It shows all points and signals as well as stations and signal boxes and major structures such as bridges.

A start has been made on the track laying, with the station to be completed first. I have also constructed the station footbridge. This is built from two Faller 222153 footbridge kits which supplied the girders and stairs, along with some scratchbuilt parts.

The picture above shows the footbridge largely constructed and given a spray of light grey paint as a base coat and to highlight any errors. The picture below shows the bridge complete less the ridge to the roof. The corrugated plasticard is painted using Lifecolor acrylics rust set.  First time I have used this brand, good pigmentation and easy to use.

The picture below shows the finished footbridge less weathering roughly in its final location. The coach is a Mk1 BSO converted from a 'Blue Riband' Graham Farish MK1 BSK and BCK. 

For more details of progress with the layout go to RM Web you will need to sign in to see the pictures...I think.

Progress has also been made on the first of the two signal boxes, this one is South Main. Construction details are again available at RM Web 



One thing that Olympia needs in quantity is Carflats for the Motorail services. So far I have completed half a dozen.

 I do hope Farish produce a RTR version as soldering the handrails is a major PIA. At least they are about to do a Motorail branded GUV.


These are produced using Farish Blue Riband Mk1 coaches, whatever version is going cheap and has B1 bogies.  Construction details are again available at RM Web 

Construction of Kensington North Main signal box is nearly complete, trust me to build a layout that needed two signal boxes, at least I haven't got to build the middle box that was mounted above track on a gantry.  The rest of the interior and steps need to be added.


Kensington North main signal box now with steps and interior.


The next phase of construction is the station buildings. To make life a little easier I have split the buildings into 3 blocks A-C with A being the most southerly one. Blocks A and B are largely constructed. I need to make another trip to Olympia to take some more photos as block C isn't the shape I thought it was and I have no photos of the north wall of it.


The platform waiting room, this building no longer exists at Kensington Olympia having been demolished in the early 1990's?


The completed station building in situ on the layout roughly where it will live.


Side projects for Olympia include this Etched Pixels 3D printed kit of a Newton Chambers Mk1 double deck car carrier. Etched brass bogies, underframe and ends which are attached to a 3D printed body. Sides can be either etched brass or in this case a downloaded file printed on to photographic paper.


6 more carflats have been constructed. 5 are Motorail branded the 6th in freight brown with B5 bogies.


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