I was fortunate that the coal depot layout was well covered on several OS maps. It was interesting to see how things changed over the years with both the depot itself and the adjacent Hetton Colliery Railway. By sizing the map images and also more recent aerial photos then overlaying them I was able to come up with a reasonable outline trace of the features and track. I’m setting the layout in the early 1960’s as that fits with the loco dates.

Unfortunately unlike my previous shipyard project I can’t find any supporting photographs so although I know where structures are with one exception I don't know what they are (the exception is the weighbridge or weighing machine which is clearly labelled).

The resulting design, after I worked things around the limitations of model railway track work, seems a reasonable representation. The diorama itself is just 18” x 9” but if I want to get things running there’ll be larger extensions on one or both ends.

The Bagging Shed is an open fronted corrugated iron or timber clad building, little more than 3 walls and a roof. Equally simple is a ready use store for filled bags near the entrance. The office is just visible in a contemporary photo which shows windows, I’ve decided to make it a flat roof brick building by kit-bashing an ARP Signalbox kit from Scalescenes. The Weighing Machine is also a Scalescenes kit, the hut from it has adorned previous layouts (I might try a different coloured brick or stone this time!)

The staithes are possibly going to be resin cast ones from Ten Commandments, it’s something I’ll look out for at shows.

From the earlier maps the siding for the yard was raised up but coal was probably just shovelled out of the wagons. From the 1950s mapping though there are coal drops for hopper wagons. I’ve found pictures of these from elsewhere in the North East and they’ll be easy enough to recreate. There are three drops shown but the map has four, I’m not sure which way I’ll go.

The track is in approximately the right place based on the maps although the siding extends to nearer the end of the yard to get a standard point in. You’ve got the yard siding and run-around at the front of the diorama, behind that is the single through line, the docks are to the left and the collieries to the right. By the time of the model there are just a couple of bypass sidings but earlier plans showed that the railway had a small yard on the site.