Stafford’s remarkable layout

 photo StaffordSwainLayout-01_zpsgcuey8vn.jpg
(A remarkable influence on Canadian modelling. Click on the image to read more about Stafford and his layout)

John Longhurst, who writes an excellent blog about his adventures in the hobby, this week reminded me of just how influential Stafford Swain has been on the Canadian modelling scene. Click on John’s image of Stafford’s layout (above) to read his post.

My first encounter with Stafford’s work was in print: I remember seeing his layout featured on the cover of the January 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, and being astonished by his HO scale rendition of the scenery of the Canadian Shield:

 photo RMC-1979-01_zpsbdfpiri9.jpg

I was equally impressed by how much “negative space” he’d incorporated into his layout. While the layout featured a yard with engine terminal and other more typical model railway scenes (all very well executed), a huge portion of the layout was devoted to a single track that twisted its way between rocky outcroppings, past trees, over fills, and across bridges.

At the time, I thought, “I’d probably fill that with another town, or a coal mine, or a coal mine and a power plant so I could do ‘loads in/empties out’ operations”. But I was much younger and measured a design’s success by how much track had been packed into the space.

These days, I realize that the sense of distance that Stafford created – the sense that the trains on his layout were actually going somewhere – is one of the themes I have been trying to portray on every layout I’ve built in the last 15-20 years. And I realize that Stafford’s layout is probably the first example of that sense of distance that I saw. Thanks for that, Stafford!

Stafford’s layout was dismantled a few years ago, but Stafford has had a huge influence on Canadian modelling – including my own – that goes well beyond his scenery work, or indeed his HO scale empire.

Rather than repeat that influence here, I encourage you to read John’s post – Stafford Swain’s CNR Whiteshell Subdivision Re-Visited.

(Thanks for the reminder, John!)

4 thoughts on “Stafford’s remarkable layout

  1. Stafford has given so much of himself over the years. His research into CN and Canadian prototype is the source of much of what the Canadian prototype modeller enjoys today. Before the internet became widely used, I mailed him a question about CN wrecking cranes. His response included mailing ME a roughly sixty-page copy of a CN crane diagrams book.

  2. I too remember the ’79 RMC article and almost immediately wanted to change scales and eras to HO late steam because of it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you're not a nasty spamming robot thingy * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.