Crawley Yard

An N Gauge modular layout depicting the location around 2013. The yard is just south from Gatwick Airport on the main London to Brighton Line


The yard is situated between Three bridges and Gatwick Airport on the main London to Brighton Main Line.  Today the yard serves as a aggregate distribution point and recycling centre and a concrete production facility.  The yard receives from 3-5 trains a week delivering a range of aggregates.  For the concrete facility run be cemex when I did the survey and on the layout these typically arrive in hoppers and are dropped onto the conveyor system. Recycling and hard core aggregates are unloaded by mechanical excavators from box wagons. Motive power is mainly class 66 and 59 from the main operators. 

The Model based on how the yard was in 2012 features all the key buildings on the site and the rail infrastructure including 3rd rail for the main lines.  The layout is modular and fits into the West Sussex N gauge group modular system.


I wanted to build a layout as part of the WSNG modular system that was based on a real location and was relatively close to where I live in West Sussex.  My previous modelling has been focused on the Somerset and Dorset based on my ramblings over the old line as a teenager and familiarity with the Poole area from growing up.  Neither the S&D or the Dorset area  really dealt with the fundamental problem with the Modular solution of requiring 3 running tracks at the front for the Module and what to have in the background.  I had a list of wants from this:-

  • The layout had to fit in my railway room frame  (8*2)
  • I could and expected to attach the modular lines on the front giving a depth of 2” 6
  • continuous circuit so something could always be running for exhibitions
  • 6 track fiddle yard to provide a variety of running stock
  • move from Steam to Modern but with the capability of running BR Blue
  • It needed to be close to home to make photo Reconnaissance easier

The challenges,

  • Finding somewhere prototypical I could model that had 4 + Running lines
  • There needed to be enough ready to run stock to get going (great expectations for the future)
  • didn’t really want to do a station due to the nature of the N Modular system
The location

I settled down at Xmas still not clear what I wanted to do and spotted that there was a sale on for the Railworks Train Simulator  module for the London to Brighton line. So purchased and started driving some trains up and down.  Leaving Three bridges going north  I spotted the Aggregates yard on the left and had that burst of inspiration needed to get going.  Now I go past the yard at least 3 days most weeks so a bit disappointing that I hadn’t seen it before but these things happen.   So why this location

  • 4 Tracks at the front for the Modular component
  • 2 tracks behind parallel with the main lines so no need for any artistic alignment
  • Simple track plan for the yard
  • Fairly straightforward year with a couple of interesting buildings and activity (ideal for the module)
  • In Sussex so local
  • Wood at one end and Factory units at other to create break around for creating loop
  • Flat so no need for major earthworks and track laying complexity

Cut down version of the compromsed builders yard towards the southern end of the scene.

Site Survey

 After a bit of research on the Internet went to Google Earth and managed to get some great results (Insert Link)

First site survey was completed on a cold Saturday in January. based on this I started on the plans for the main building, the aggregate centre next to siding 1.  I started doing some paper plans for size and height based on the photos and estimated the length around 250mm and 260mm at the widest point in scale. Its going to be very tall so may have to make it removable from the board for travelling purposes.  Also have pictures of the cement works so will start the planning for that as well.  The next step is the mock up of the buildings and laying these onto the overall plan to get a sense of how the buildings will sit in the scenic space and what needs to happen around the and the side and back scene.

Key Buildings from the survey

  • Aggregate plant
  • Main Building
  • Loading Bays
  • Aggregate shed
  • Chimney/Tank Array
  • Entrance building (Guardroom)
  • Truck loading Weigbridges
  • Cement Works
  • Mess sheds and Offices (Bachmann Portable offices)
  • Cement Tower and building
  • Loading Ramp area and weigbridge
  • Access Control office (From Main Line) Bachmann Fuel Point?
  • Burdens
  • Office Building
  • Lots and lots of stacked goods

Aerial view – Google earth

One of the benefits of a modern image layout based on an actual location is Google earth for the layout, dimensions and view. Shown below the screenshot I captured back in 2013 of the location showing the approximate location of the backscene.

Attached Image

I ended up compromising on the aggregates end as there is nothing at the top/northern end to frame the scene and so I dragged in part of the bus depot which is out of shot and slightly changing the angles of the sidings and yard.



My S&D layouts have all been DCC and see no reason now to build using DC.  I’ve had some mixed success with railmaster software on Sturminster Halt but thats more to do with the running than the software.   DCC Cobalt motors have worked well but not been happy using the Gaugemaster DCC30 Controllers, Will use here Integrated Cobalt motors/controllers on this layout but also include manual switching to a mimic panel. The mimic panel potentially mounted over the fiddle yard or at the back, Needs to moveable though as this wouldn’t work at home where the layout is operated from the front.  Some complexity around the isolation, WSNG line 3 could be DC or DCC but needs to be switchable if I want to bring a train on or off the scenic part of the module. Line 4 isnt used by WSNG but other modular layouts do so this will be configured the same way. Assume at this point a 2  switch of some type (No Isolation, From WSNG Module,  Isolated with DCC power)

Key Points

  • DCC control using either Hornby Elite/Trackmaster or Gaugemaster Prodigy
  • Points using DCC cobalt motors
  • Running tracks (WSNG) Linked at each end via 6 way blocks to other modules
  • Mimic Panel,  Indicator Lights ? Not sure, Manual Point control, Isolating switches
  • Isolation on tracks 4 (Not used by WSNG but I could park a train here ? )
  • Isolation on track 3 (WSNG 3) to isolate this module from WSNG


I use the same conventions on all my layouts for ease of remembering so the same here

  • Main Track DCC Power  Red and Black
  • Point Motor Wiring  Yellow and Orange
  • Switched power from Points to Frogs  Purple
  • AC power  Blue and Grey
  • Test Track Pink and Green

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