Planning the Extension

When the original 2′ x 3’6″ board was nearing completion, planning began on the next board.

A given was that it would include a distillery with railways sidings, the raison d’etre for Dufftown. But besides providing the unusual “whisky traffic” theme, the choice of location offered some local inspiration for other features that might be modeled. As the line curves towards Keith it crosses a two span viaduct by the Parkmore (I think?) Distillery.

Close by this is Balvenie Castle. Further up the line runs along the edge of Loch Park near Drummiur Castle, and the Mill of Towie at Auchindachy had its own siding. In the other direction there’s a large cooperage at Craigellachie and Walker’s shortbread in Aberlour (mmm, shortbread trains…)

Various plans involving completing the circuit of track over an additional two boards were considered before a fellow club member, Doug Hill, offered the brickyard section from Chickerell Brickworks to incorporate. Thus the final plan, a more modest single board, both completed the circuit for Dufftown and provides a link into the brickworks which will be relocated to a summery Craigellachie from its original Dorset winter.

It includes the viaduct and a distillery served by lower level sidings on a spur which (using a lot more of that modeler’s licence) passes under the viaduct.

Due to the variations in height, this board would be open – based around the same 4″ depth ply framework but with sundeala cut to size (and shape!) for the trackbed, and contours cut away from the crosspieces to accommodate the lower level. This photo shows the board with track laid, just under one month ago:

See here for the trackplan.

The Legend

Legend An apparently plausible account specially prepared by the intelligence or counter-intelligence service to mislead the enemy.

KGB Lexicon By Vasiliĭ Ivanovich Mitrokhin, Peter Hennessy

Mortlach distillery opened in 1823 close to the newly established settlement of Dufftown. When, in December 1858, the Morayshire Railway was extended from Elgin to Craigellachie (some 5 miles from Dufftown) the distillery was thriving. A link was needed to bring in grain and coal, and to transport the whisky to Elgin.

Owing to the difficult terrain along the Fiddich gorge, a narrow gauge railway was proposed. In February 1862 the 2’3” gauge line, from Dufftown down the Fiddich to the Spey at Craigellachie, was opened. During the 1880s and 1890s another 6 distilleries were established in Dufftown, all served by the railway.

By the 1930s the whisky industry has begun to decline and the heyday of the railway has passed. However, there is still sufficient mixed traffic to sustain the railway and many of its branches.

NB: In fact, the first railway to reach Dufftown was the standard gauge Dufftown and Keith Railway in 1862, closely followed by the Strathspey Railway (which twisted along Glen Fiddich from Craigellachie). A spur was build to serve the distilleries at Mortlach. Passenger services were resumed between Dufftown and Keith in 2001 when the railway was restored by volunteers.


It’s three or four years now since the stock from our 0-16.5 layout Upper Creek was stolen in a break in. The frequently exhibited layout was showing signs of age, and so it was finally retired, and a new project was needed. Some club members hadn’t shaken off the narrow gauge bug, and coincidentally we had acquired a few items of 009 stock, together with a handful of turnouts and some lengths of peco track. So it was that the Dufftown came into being.

The original plan utilised the fiddle yard from Upper Creek, a board measuring 3’6″ by 2′ made from a 4″ plywood frame topped with sundeala. The specification included the following requirements:

  • The layout would be modular – that is, it the first board would be self contained and could be finished before the next board was added; this could be finished and form a complete layout with the first while the next board was developed and so forth….
  • The finished layout would incorporate a loop for round and round running. 009 stock, particular that which we had inherited, can be temperamental in running, and a circuit would allow good “running in”. It’s also one of the advantage 009 offers and we wanted to use it!
  • Points would be motorised to allow full operation from either the rear of the layout (for exhibitions) or from the front (for recreational running). It was to be a club layout, despite the fact that relatively few members have 009 stock!

To a greater or lesser extent all of these aims have been realised.

The setting of the layout was chosen to be Scotland because there are many narrow gauge models featuring Welsh lines. It is true there are fewer Scottish prototypes so a little modellers’ licence was applied, of which more will be posted soon… But the temptation of modelling a whisky railway was too great to resist, and so even at this stage it was clear the next board, whenever it was built, would have to include a distillery…