l Engelsdrecht
This feature describes the NS based layout, Engelsdrecht which was built by Allan Haynes, Bob Palmer and Paul Rowlinson back in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It is heaviliy adapated and updated from an article carried by Continental Modeller. All photos by Paul Rowlinson.



It all started with a packet of Persil! Back in 1984! Lever Brothers had a special promotion offering rail and ferry tickets on a two for the price of one basis in exchange for vouchers obtainable by collecting tokens. One evening after the usual Wednesday meeting, members of the Norwich Model Railway Club were debating what we should do with the vouchers which we had all collected for the greter good and Allan suggested a weekend trip to Holland. And so it was that Bob, Allan and myself found ourselves on the way to Harwich one weekend armed with a 3-day NS railrover. This in hindsight was a reckless adventure since we were going to a stgrange country with no idea of where we would stay or what we would do when we got there. It was a case of travelling stright from work, spending two very full days on the system and getting the overnight ferry back on the Sunday before strolling straight into work on Monday carrying the duty free bags! Although very tiring, the trip went well and left a lasting impression: so much so that we went back at least once a year for about 10 years thereafter. In time we discovered the Amersfoort 'Beurs', which as members will know is a huge swapmeet probably bigger than anything put on in the UK. A collection of models began to be acquired until it was suggested that we ought to have a layout on which to display them, and so Engelsdrecht was born.

The actual town is fictitious and is assumed to be located to the north east of Dordrecht and on an imaginary line linking the Breda-Rotterdam route with that from Rotterdam-Utrecht via Gouda (see map). The name was contrived after the Dutch word for 'English', with a 'Drecht' suffix which is common in the area of the Netherlands where Engelsdrecht is supposed to be situated. There is no literal translation and even our Dutch friends can give us no meaning for the word. However, it stuck, and the layout bears witness to five years of work which regretably was never finished.

Baseboards and trackwork

In its maximum format the layout is 22' x 8'6" with a 6" extension behind the storage yard.

These are built in a traditional form from 2" x 1" softwood frames in a 4' x 2' standard size and are overed by 9mm ply. Although slightly on the heavy side they nonetheless provide a stable foundation for the track. Legs made from softwood screw into the boards. Boards are joined by hinges which have had the centre pin removed, and electrical connections are by 40-way plugs and sockets which are mounted permanently in the board ends. Connection is made when the boards are brought together and no other wiring connection needs to be made. The control panel is joined to the main layout in a similar fashion. We are firm believers in mounting everything possible on to the
baseboards which assists setting up and taking down the layout.

The storage yard consists of a novel four fold hinged board system which although heavy to transport greatly assists in assembly and dismantling. In fact discounting stock the layout can be erected and
dismantled in the space of less than an hour despite the complexities of overhead catenary.
Track, which is mounted on cork, is mainly Peco with some pointwork, mainly the scissors crossings, from Shinohara and Roco, plus some continental track of dubious origin in the storage yard. Extensive use has been made of good quality secondhand track salvaged from other
layouts and acquired from swapmeets — anything to keep the costs down, which is understandable when you see the amount of track and pointwork used! Point motors are from SEEP driven by a home produced high capacity fast recycling capacitor discharge unit which will power several points at one push. A two-wire system of point motor control has been adopted using diodes attached to the motors. This saves a considerable amount of wiring and more importantly the number of pins needed in cross board electrical connections. Hand-held controllers by AMR are used. Although
these have not been entirely successful, they are the best we have found from the numerous types we have tried to date. Once laid and electrically tested the trackwork was sprayed a rust colour and then ballasted. Granite ballast is used and is applied dry in a dry mix with powder paint and cascamite. When the ballast has been spread around to the correct depth and profile, the track is sprayed with a plant sprayer with water to which a couple of drops of washing up liquid have been added. Once the whole lot has dried surplus ballast can be cleaned off, particularly from the points. This method of ballasting is much quicker than using a dropper with dilute PVA although if the mix of
the powdered glue is incorrect the latter method sometimes has to be used as a back-up.


The overhead catenary has been entirely scratchbuilt by Bob from brass and steel wire. A full study of the prototype was made over several visits and many of the portal structures have had to be made to fit individual sites with only a few standard types in use. We found that none of the proprietary systems were able to meet a multiple track layout and did not provide a satisfactory scale appearance hence the need for home construction. At the outset we found that we could not obtain the brass angle or channel sections in the UK in sufficient lengths and had to import the stuff from Holland! Fortunately this situation has improved and stock can now be found in the UK. We feel that Engelsdrecht was somewhat unique in that we have been able to portray accurately the Dutch system even to the point of employing a twin contact wire as per prototype. Despite the complexity of the wiring, the finished job is surprisingly robust. The wires are tensioned from the anchor mast on the station boards and wires simply clip into one another by 90 degree angles at the board joints. Strict prototype practice has been employed particularly at turnouts, junctions and sidings. For operational flexibility and because Bob is not a masochist(!), the storage yard has not been wired. For similar reasons and more particularly to keep strength in the system by not using insulated joints etc, the trains do not draw power from the wires. This seems to disappoint many members of the public but quite frankly there is absolutely no benefit in energising the catenary, and anyway you can't see the electricity!

Scenery and buildings

Many of the buildings are from kits by Kibri, Vollmer and some East German sources. The station building, which is based on that at Zwolle, was scratchbuilt from plasticard sheet and has taken nearly four years to produce. In fact the long gestation time has become something of a standing joke but the end result is worth the effort. For stict accuracy, another single storey extension should ahve been contstructed on the other side of the main facade but at the time we did not have the room. This may well have been addressed on the longer continuous version but how long it would ahve taken to build would have to be the subject of a sweepstake!

Still to be built are a postal depot, a Van Gend en Loos goods depot and a VAM compost depot (this was largely completed when construction on the layout stopped and remains unpainted in Paul's garage), the latter to be based on a prototype at Meppel.

The canals and ditches are made from layers of varnish on an appropriate bed. The main problem is that the 'water' attracts the dust and it is difficult to keep clean. Miniature fishermen cast their hooks
into the water. The people are from a variety of sources and are hand painted by Allan and liberally applied to the layout, with plenty of bicycles. It is surprising how many are needed.
Road vehicles are from Herpa, Kibri and other sources. Commercial vehicles are one of our weak points. Dutch prototypes do exist but are available only in Holland and they can be expensive.
Wiking, Kibri and Herpa all appear together with some from unknown sources. The layout does not yet possess any signals although kits have been acquired and made and will be installed when time permits. Very few full size signals will be needed, the NS relying on ground signals for movements
within the station area. Fortunately these are now available, in working form but a trifle expensive and we need about 50! Donations gratefully received...
Engelsdrecht has been signalled, at least on paper, by a retired NS signal engineer who has been most helpful. We also have a copy of the official NS signal handbook which will come in very handy when the time arrives.

Rolling stock

As the hobby in Holland has developed, more and more rolling stock has become available from the major manufacturers and we have examples from Lima, Roco, Marklin, Rivarossi, Liliput, Fleischmann, and some locally produced kits. We have examples oflocos and stock from the blue era to the present day and can also draw on a couple of earlier livery schemes. Allan also
has some NS steam stock which makes an occasional appearance on specials. Notable omissions include the NS 1500 class (our own EM2's), Class 2400 diesels, and the diesel multiple units, all of which are available in very expensive kit form from Philotrain. Until one of us comes into some money they will continue to be absent from the layout! Coaching stock is well represented and includes examples from other European railways which commonly work into the country. In particular we have rakes of French and German vehicles but there are also Belgian,
Luxembourg, Swiss and Austrian coaches. Most of these 'foreign' vehicles are the correct 1:87 scale length. It is a great source of regret to us that no Dutch loco-hauled coaches are available in the proper length. Lima had a golden opportunity when introducing double deckers which, because of their height, look very short. The same criticism can be levelled at Marklin and Fleischmann: European manufacturers please note! Freight stock comes from just about every manufacturer and represents a typical Dutch selection.


Operation is to a schedule and represents a typical day. It is not operated to a clock but movements follow each other in sequence and it takes about a day and a half of exhibition operating to get through a complete 20 hour working day. The sequence is arranged so it is possi ble for the operators to work without the need to communicate: we have no bells, telephones or other systems operated by other (English!) layouts. The schedule was based around a set of services which are supposed to operate through Engelsdrecht. This now needs to be rewritten to take into account the continuous run nature of the enlarged layout and rolling stock pool, and we will probably go back to the drawing board. The present schedule could be modified but is somewhat over-complicated although nonetheless enjoyable to operate as it gives meaning to the movements being made.


Engelsdrecht represents our little bit of the Netherlands and serves to remind us of many enjoyable trips. The layout has been well received by the public, and we believe we are one of only two Dutch layouts currently on the exhibition circuit. Notwithstanding this, some members of the public seem to think it is American, French or even Japanese! We are very pleased to have been 'adopted' by the London office of the Netherlands Railways who have been very supportive and even have
had produced for us a genuine NS station platform sign which will be used as a fascia on the complete layout. Special thanks are due to Hellmut van der Flier and Rudi Boersma for their kindness, and also to Guillaume Veenhuis our Dutch correspondent from Modelspoorclub Zutphen.


Well what happened to Engelsdrecht? In the interveneing 12 years or so things have moved on. Much has happened on the prototype scene and our bit of the Netherlands is stuck firmly back in a 1980's time warp. Simply put, other comitments and a job move made it difficult for the three of us to meet. Both Paul and Bob are both now married with children and the amount of time necessary to fully develop and maintain the layout simpy does not exist and on top of that storage became a real issue. The layout was extended to 32 foot and a continuous run and a start was made on the scenics with a very nice row of dutch type houses built by Paul's wifeJanet appeared on the layout behind the new cariage sidings. It is to be regretted that little work was done on developing the catenary for the extension but the layout was exhibited in its extended format during 1992. This was however beleived to havev been its last outing. The layout still exisits although the ravages of time and storage would mean that a considerable amount of work would be necessary to make it operational again, particularly as a start was made on replacing a troublesome double slip at he platform end of the original layout. Who knows, one day Engelsdrecht may get resurected but for the time being, these photgraphs will provide a permanent tribute to what was believed at the time to be a pioneering layout.

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