I've just discovered what must be the most perfect prototype for a small model railway ever to exist - Bodmin General. Having never visited the preserved Bodmin & Wenford Railway I've not had a chance to see this charming little station for myself, but the latest edition of the Great Western Railway Journal contains a fascinating article looking at the history of the line from Bodmin Road to Padstow, with a number of tantalising photographs.
It's the photographs and details of Bodmin General, the GWR's Bodmin terminus that caught my attention almost immediately. Here is a station that has it all: a branch line terminus on an extremely compact site with a road underbridge conveniently positioned at the station throat, a single road engine shed that was operational into the early 60s, a goods yard consisting of 2 sidings (opposite to and parallel with the station platform) and a small goods shed, a junction - within the confines of the station area itself - leading to the Southern Region operated line from Bodmin (North) to Wadebridge and Padstow, with trains from both regions using Bodmin General, and, to cap it all it still exists!
Given the similarities with the various layout plans I've come up with already, it's a tempting proposition to go all out and model Bodmin General to the letter, but I probably won't as I prefer the freedom to use my imagination a little bit more rather than being tied to an exact prototype. However, as a basis at least for a layout plan - particularly with the additional branch and combined workings - it's a very useful prototype to be able to refer to.
A modern photo of the station area can be found here: http://www.steampics.com/html/bwr040.html
This is taken from the road bridge at the throat of the station with the branch to Wadebridge leading off to the left. The goods shed has gone unfortunately as has the original engine shed (the new one can be seen on the left) but it gives an idea of the extremely compact nature of the site. I've not measured it up on a map, but I guess in 4mm the whole station would fit, with very little reduction in scale, into an area not much more than 12'x2'!