I’ve never worked in a factory. In fact where I live the largest manufacturing plant shrunk dramatically over a decade and finally closed a few years ago. Even when open it wasn’t visitor friendly and the view from the streets gave little indication what went on inside the walls.
All of this makes building a convincing industrial area rather harder than it might otherwise be. Older modellers will have stood a good chance of spending years in buildings connected by girders and pipe bridges and containing green painted heavy equipment. Studying photos is a poor substitute for all these years soaking up the atmosphere.
On the way to the pub in Melksham, I passed this view into the Avon Tyres plant. Look at all those pipes, the motley collection of building materials. Slim barred steel window frames have square tops rather than the curved brick versions beloved of modellers but oh so difficult to make convincingly. This isn’t a dark satanic mill from days of yore, it’s a modern plant, but one that could have been built anytime in the last 40 years.
I’ll not pretend to understand the tyre making process but I do know that all those pipes and beams and walkways are there for a reason. Unlike the countryside, everything you see was put there by someone. That’s what makes industrial modelling so challenging.
Aside from the wealth of detail, the other thing I notice is how clean everything is. While various parliamentary acts have improved things, old photos show that these sort of places weren’t covered in a uniform coating of soot. The maintenance men looked after things to keep them usable on a dally basis. Painted surfaces were recoated occasionally, not left to rot as many modellers seem to believe.
All this is very inspirational for me. I want to set my layout in a box around the back of a 1950’s factory complex. Yesterday’s box steel will be in evidence but so will asbestos sheet and concrete rendering. There will still be brick, but less than I’ve used in the past. Hopefully this will lead to a more colourful, but not gaudy, model.