Book Review: Ian Futers Modelling Scotland’s Railways

Modelling Scotland’s Railways By Ian Futers
£18.95 ISBN 978-0-953844-88-3
112 pages illustrated, Soft Bound Card Cover
Santona Publications Published 2006

Ian Futers has been active in both writing and portraying the railways of Scotland in model form for the past 30 years. As such, with his broad knowledge of the prototype and modeling ability he’s well qualified to write about the practicalities of modeling Scottish and Borders prototypes. We start with an introduction to the author and describes how his personal interests in the railways of the northern United Kingdom developed. It’s written in an engaging style where you get a clear feeling of the authors passion for the country, knowledge of the subject, and why he’s modeled these prototypes for so many years. The authors primary era’s of interest fall very much within the scope of this magazines readership, so it will particularly appeal to the Scottish railway enthusiasts amongst you.

The books nine chapters break Scotland into logical areas, there are six regional chapters from the borders in the south, the central belt and to the north east. There are two further chapters the first titled ‘Quintessentially Scottish Railways’, and the second dealing with mainline running. Here the author discusses the history of Scotland’s railways and some of what makes them unique. Despite the wide range of geographical and company history variations this is covered very well. The main emphasis of the book follows the author’s primary interest of secondary and branch lines of the region, rather than the mainline network. The book is none the poorer for that, and a good part of the secondary and branch details naturally cross over when mainline operations and history are discussed.

The authors own modeling experience of smaller layouts is particularly useful for a beginner. Most of us start with something small, if you’re interested in Scottish prototypes and haven’t much space, then there’s plenty of well illustrated examples. Within each chapter there are several examples of stations for that region. Each has a track plan, dimensions, and a couple of images of either the prototype or a well constructed layout of a similar genre. There’s an element of discussions on operations and appropriate locomotives and stock that can be used. Its worth bearing in mind that it was published in 2006, so you won’t find references to some of the newer and scheduled Scottish models such as Heljans Clayton. Most of the layouts are discussed as 4mm/OO gauge projects, but the author also covers N gauge and O gauge options within the text. To complete the book there’s a small section of appendices covering a locomotive chronicle, useful society’s addresses, and websites for further research, model manufacturers with specific Scottish products and a bibliography.

For such a broad title and subject matter, this book covers the subject very well indeed. There is plenty of material presented in a manner that encourages the reader to search out more information, or indeed with the track plans and quality of the images, get started straight away. If you have an interest in Scottish railways and are looking for inspiration and ideas to start modeling something with a real regional feel to it, this book has much to recommend.

Scottish Layout Projects By Ian Futers
£12.99 ISBN 978-1-907094-19-4
64 pages illustrated, Soft Bound, Card Cover
Santona Publications Published 2009

This is the second book by Ian Futers by Santona on Scottish Layout design.
This new book follows logically and gives fourteen examples of layouts to consider ranging from Rothbury in the Borders region of Northumberland, to Kyle of Lochalsh in the North West. The writing style is fluid and an easy read, whilst this is the second book, it works as a standalone publication in its own right.

The majority of the plans are secondary or branch line schemes in keeping with the authors primary interests, and cover examples from all the geographic regions of Scotland. Eras represented cover up to the present day with the Kyle Plan and Gretna Junction on the West Coat Main Line. All the plans are to an imperial scale, but the author does note that these are a reasonably accurate guide, the final configurations should be worked out with track templates or the components themselves. The plans are color illustrations, with footnotes describing the era, scale each plan was drawn for, and loco classes that would normally work the proposed scheme. This gives a very quick idea of what a modeler will need for each plan. Some of the schemes have a 3D artists sketch to help the reader visualize the finished layout. Illustrations cover color and black and white prototype images, also a selection of model photos appropriate to the plan being discussed. Ideally it would have been nice to have pictures for each scheme, even if just thumbnail type images, however this doesn’t detract from the overall usefulness of the book.

The strap line on the cover is ‘More plans, ideas and inspiration’, and as such it describes the book well. For modelers wanting to explore what the region has to offer in variety, this book covers the subject matter well. To get the full benefit from it, particularly for a beginner or someone new to Scottish prototypes, we’d recommend reading the first book too.

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