Modelling Tucker's Malthouse at Ashburton


Photo by P J Garland -

Ashburton Station is well covered with photographs on the internet and in books. All of the principle buildings still exist albeit in modified form and can be viewed in Google Street View. Drawings of the buildings can be found in Paul Karau's excellent book Great Western Branch Line Termini (Volume Two). However, the one building which presents a challenge to the modeller is Tucker's Malthouse. It was a large imposing building which dominated the site and yet it was invariably in the far distance in photographs taken around the Station. Few photographs exist taken specifically of the building. Since the closure of the railway it has been demolished and Tucker's have replaced it with a modern shed of similar proportions.

The Malthouse was invariably in the far distance in photographs taken
around the Station. Here 1470 is seen during the goods only period,
by then in lined green livery with late logo and turned to run with chimney
towards Ashburton - Photo: Alan Taylor Collection -


My starting point was the GWR 1:480 site plan dated July 1914. From this plan I was able to obtain approximate dimensions of the building footprint.

Above: Footprint of the Maltings building. Dimensions are to the best possible accuracy.

It was immediately apparent that there was a discrepency between the site plan and the available photographs. The north wall is 14.4m and the section of the building under the east - west ridge is 17.8m wide. These proportions do not fit with the photographs. I checked Ordnance Survey mapping which showed similar proportions to the site plan. Photographs cannot lie so what was wrong?

There is an EM Gauge model of Ashburton on display in the South Devon Railway Trust Museum at Buckfastleigh. Watching the Youtube vido by Mike Poole I spotted an 'extra' bit of roof appearing behind the model of the Malthouse. See Ashburton Model Railway on Youtube.

Through the South Devon Railway Trust I was able to contact Chris Lamacraft who built the layout. Chris has been extremely helpful, providing me with a number of photographs.

Above: This first photograph shows an aerial view of Chris Lamacraft's model of the Malthouse.

Above: This rare photograph showing the west side of the Malthouse explains the discrepency with the site plan.
There is an additional section of building which is never normally seen in photographs.
Photographer unknown.

These two photographs were also provided by Chris Lamacraft.
Photographer unknown.

The images included in this article are, as far as I can determine, the sum total of photographs in existence, taken to specifically record Tucker's Malthouse at Ashburton. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be able to provide more photographs of the Malthouse or might know who the unknown photographer/s might be.

Creation of Drawings

The starting point for creating a 3-d CAD model was the footprint. I decided that at this stage I would create the digital model full size and not scale it down to 7mm scale until later. The photographs were printed to A4 size. Details of the building were determined by scaling the prints to obtain dimensions by proportion to known dimensions in the footprint. Not all details could be fixed in this way. Judgement was frequently necessary to make things look right such as the angle of the roof slope.

At this early stage roof overhange has not been included. There is still much to be done to complete the digital model, particularly the locations of windows and doors.

Above: Digital Model of the Malthouse.

Constructing the Model

The first thing to be considered is the shear size of this building. In 7mm scale it measures just over three feet in length including the lean-to at the northern end. It will be a substantial construction in plywood and timber. I have yet to decide on the type of veneer to apply. I am thinking of purchasing a laser cutter to reproduce the stone finish in MDF. However, the stonework of the building is not very pronounced. So I still have to determine the best option for the veneer. I intend to produce the windows, doors and ventilation grills by 3-d printing as this will save a significant amount of work and time.

For the moment this project must pause at this point as my priority is to complete the pointwork modules, construct the baseboards and get some trains running. I will return to this article in the future.

Paul Plowman
6 October 2020

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