Making Tracks 3 - a new beginning

Making Tracks is returning to Chester Cathedral from July 26-September 2 2023. CHRIS CLENTON introduces the new project in the first of a regular series of features following the layouts construction.

Pete Waterman and the Railnuts team are building a third Making Tracks layout and over the next few months I will be keeping you up to date with the latest progress with regular updates here on Key Model World. 

The story of Making Tracks started in 2020 when Chester Cathedral approached Pete to build a layout to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Thomas Brassey’s death – one of the worlds most prolific railway builders who has part of the cathedral dedicated to him. This request turned into a 64ft long modern depiction of part of the West Coast Main Line built to 'OO' gauge which was run for six days a week over a six week period during 2021 – it was hugely successful and the Cathedral asked the Railnuts team to return for 2022.

For Making Tracks II in 2022 Pete and the team built a whole new section of the West Coat Main Line, again 64ft long for another six week display at the cathedral. Both layouts have been really popular and have each year attracted around 40,000 visitors as well as each taking part in the annual Great Electric Train Show in Milton Keynes in October.

Each year we learn from what went before. In 2022 we wanted to get the public more involved and ran the layout with tablets which visitors could drive the trains and share the joy of the hobby. Bringing new people into the model railway hobby is something we are all passionate about.

So with two 64ft layouts done – what next? Well the good news is that the Cathedral want us back in 2023 and we will be there from July 26-September 2 2023, but this year's layout will be our biggest project yet. Hornby Magazine challenged us to build a station this year which we readily accepted and now, after considering the options we are creating a model of Milton Keynes Central station as it is today. This busy main line station has platforms which are up to 18ft long while we will also be modelling the huge reflective station building as a backdrop to the platforms.

We’ve chosen Milton Keynes because of the iconic modern architecture, the way trains stop and are passed by expresses and the bi-directional running of some of the lines, all of which we will be recreating on our 'OO' gauge model which will have the same 64ft length as the previous layouts, but this time the total width will be 14ft to cater for the 4ft wide station boards.

Milton Keynes station with Pete Waterman

Above: Pete Waterman stands on Milton Keynes Central station during a visit site visit to the location. The 'OO' gauge model will replicate the real station as near to scale as possible.


Milton Keynes is really special with expresses hurtling through over taking other trains - we want to recreate this and more.

Pete Waterman

It’s going to be a huge challenge with some really special features not yet announced and I will be keeping you up to date on our progress. We have already built the new baseboards and bespoke laser cut platforms are down and we will soon be able to share the latest progress images as we get into the swing of building the layout.

For now, don't forget to put Making Tracks 3 in your diary - we'll be at Chester Cathedral from July 26-September 2 2023 and we will also be returning to the 2023 Great Electric Train Show on October 14/15 2023 with a special display - more on that soon.