The change to NSW modelling happened in a strange way. I was involved in the Glenreagh Mountain Railway where i was training to be a fireman for their tourist railway on Loco 1919. The organisation was offered through the Office of Rail heritage, An organisation put in place to manage the NSW heritage railway collection, two locomotives a several end platform carriages. Loco's 2606 and 3085 were the locos originally offered. I took a keen interest in the possibility of restoring the 26 class and as such researched the loco a little.
While at a good friends home railway i discovered that he had a Brass model of a 26. I had to have one! I begged and pleaded for him to sell it to me but he would not budge. He did however find me Bergs Brass 26 in the for sale section of AMRM. A quick phone call and it was mine. A mint condition factory painted 26 class. That was the beginning of my NSW railway modelling interest.
I started to collect a few small items......Well, two 60 class garrets, Eureka ones both with sound. Though i justified the purchase to the BOSS as one was for Daughter Abbi! At this stage we had the house sorted and the home layout was looking promising. What did i want to do?
I had found the American modelling quite easy and had done quite a bit on the modules for the group layout. I wanted more of a challenge and new that NSW modelling would be that as most items needed to be scratch built or be it advanced kits (loco's etc). I had also become fairly fussy with my US trains and wanted to maintain a similar level of detail in both the layout, loco's and rolling stock to be used. I also wanted to follow along the same lines as the US interest and model a specific location and possibly time period. As i had already had the Garrets i would need to model a location that they where used.
While having a discussion about trains with a club member, he was telling me about when he used to load the S wagons onto the steam trains at Denman when he was younger. Denman is a short distance from Muswellbrook along the Muswellbrook to Merriwa branch. With the thought for a railway in mind i begun to research a little on this particular stretch of line.
Muswellbrook, the junction for the branch, had a large yard with loco facility at the eastern end. Beyond the turntable and engine house was a large 'Y' where they turned the garrets after their trip from Newcastle. The Garrets were rarely used past Muswellbrook as the Ardglen tunnel was too tight and the heat and fumed from the garrets would harm the drivers. Almost opposite the Loco shed was the Muswellbrook No 1 Colliery. Coal being the major commodity of the area.
Muswellbrook No 2 Colliery was further east along the main and was severd by a short branch from St Hellier's. Pictured below loco 5362 returns to Muswellbrook with a train of S,K and LCH/CCH hoppers from the no.2 colliery.
Along the branch to Merriwa were several towns including Denman, Myambat, Sandy Hollow and Gungal. The line generally served the farming community however at Myambat was the Army Munitions base. A small siding led into the base were the army's ammunition and explosives could be unloaded from Goods wagons.
The terminus at Merriwa was the home for the local passenger service in the form of a CPH witch was housed in the single engine shed at almost the extremity of the line. Along side the shed was a 60' turntable for turning the 30T or 50 class goods locos that were often used. Towering the town on the northern side of the line is a large grain Silo fed from the local fields of the area.
The railway had it all. And so it was chosen for future railway research and home layout.