It's a warm, sunny August evening in an unspoilt rural corner of south-west England about 50 years ago, on one of one of those endless hot summer days everyone remembers from their childhood. Though the fields are parched from lack of rain the hedgerows are still a riot of colour, wild flowers jostling for room with brambles and longer grass. In the dappled shade of an old elm tree a family of rabbits play, undisturbed. Overhead, high above the treetops, a lark sings in the clear blue sky and from somewhere along the lane the plaintive song of a blackbird drifts on a gentle breeze.
Add to this tranquil scene a small, sleepy railway terminus, all but devoid of human presence or activity, except for some faint snatches of tuneless whistling emanting from the open door of the booking office. Picture the neat platform, complete with painted name board, benches and well-tended flower beds. The inevitability of closure, only a few years away in reality, somehow seems impossible - the railway feels like it has always been here and always will, as timeless as the landscape itself.
Suddenly the peace is shattered by the shrill sound of a bell ringing in the signal box, followed by the clatter of levers; then shortly afterwards a distant whistle echoes down the line. A porter and a couple of passengers - locals probably, travelling home to the next village after a day's work - emerge expectantly from the waiting room.
Moments later the sound of the approaching train can be heard, it's rhythmic exhaust beats echoing across the fields and lanes, mingling for a few moments with the chimes of a church clock in the village nearby. Closer, louder now, then a plume of smoke rising above the trees, and finally, rounding a curve the train comes into view - a work-worn tank engine with a couple of elderly maroon coaches.
As the train approaches the platform, the driver shuts off the regulator and the engine hisses, and clanks it's way past the entrance to the small goods yard, past the starter signal, and into the platform, coming to a halt some yards from the bufferstops. Doors open and a handful of passengers alight while a few crates and trunks are unloaded from the guards compartment.
...and so I could go on! But for now that's just a glimpse of the sort of scene I want to try and recreate in model form on this layout.