Chipping Norton

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying and failing to remember the name of a 2mm scale model railway. I remembered the scale and that it was based on a Great Western Railway line and that, at one end, there was a mill. Searching on terms like “2mm”, “2FS”, “GWR”, and “mill” returned entertaining distractions but not this particular railway. I remembered, in the first place, that it was the feature layout in a 1990’s era copy of Railway Modeller. Frustrated and awake (yay work stress) I settled down with Google and started searching Google images based on “Railway Modeller January 1991” varying the year (starting in 1990) and then month (starting in January) and then working through each month scrolling through the covers to see if that familiar one appeared.

Eureka! There it is: December 1991.

Equipped with the name of the railway and, well, still unable to sleep, I’m searching around to see where else Keith Armes’ Chipping Norton appears. Apparently Model Railway Journal number 20 featured the railway too – I may have to order a copy of that from Titfield Thunderbolt as I see they stock a copy of that back issue.

The 2mm Scale Association also have a few photos on their site of Chipping Norton including one on this page.

Now, wouldn’t it be terrific to discover video of it in operation? I remember how exciting it was to see Chee Tor come to life in found Youtube footage in these two videos:

For now though it feels exciting to finally settle that memory and have found the name of this superlative model railway.

Chipping Norton

Categories: How I think

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13 replies

  1. I trained as a librarian. We would be happy to welcome you into the club because of your detective skills. Imagine getting paid to do this kind of search for customers! Alas, you get promoted and wind up pushing papers, going to meetings and telling people what to do.

    The headline attracted my eye because as a child I lived for three years in Oxfordshire, not very far from the real Chipping Norton. It is glorious country. This was before Beeching, and we could get on a train in Witney and ride all the way to London, Paddington, I think.

    • Funny how, just yesterday, Krista and I were both talking about how much we would loved to have study library sciences professionally but were both discouraged during those formative years in school (keep in mind that’s the same counsellers who actively discouraged a career in computers too).

      That’s neat that you have a personal connection to the area. It would be neat to look at this model railway as someone whose been to the real place. We often say that but models like this have such broadly developed scenic volume that I think does such a complete job of creating an immersive experience.

  2. Chris,

    Thank you for posting the Chee Tor videos, they brought back many happy memories of tuesday and thursday nights at Dean Hall, carving plaster and foam to form the “Dale”, all under Mike Raithby’s expert direction.
    I drifted away from the MMRS before Chee Tor was finally completed but did manage to to operate it at it’s last show in the uk. Happy days.
    Chipping Norton (and Keith’s previous layout – Newton Tracy) was a delight to watch – never got the chance to operate though :-(
    Please keep posting the PEI stuff, from this side of the pond it is most inspirational.


    • Chee Tor was amazing to see in print. I remember the beautiful colour centre spreads published and trying to understand how incredible that scene across just about any part of Chee Tor must have felt to see in person. Only rarely are models in these small scales afforded privilege of this style of presentation and it’s an amazing testimony to the potential they offer. Seeing Chee Tor come alive in those videos was amazing.

      I look forward to more PEI stuff too. The comments on this post have been amazing and I hope folks are noticing:

  3. Great post , Chris – thanks for sharing these. I have encountered all of these layouts previously but had forgotten about them. It was a lovely reminder.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Seeing even just the cover of RM brings back that flood of memories associated how much layouts like these seemed so completely dreamy. That stays with a person long after the magazine goes.

  4. I’ve got a copy of MRJ 20. What’s your email.

  5. Chris, Obligatory Canadian content: Chee Tor is currently in Gibsons, BC! Sadly, the current owner doesn’t have the electrical skills to get it working again. So it is not operational. It would be fabulous to see it running in person. Cheers, Rene


  1. Small Layout Success (Part Three)… – Prince Street

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