Dutton Bay Tramway - History


Barker Valley Railway train

Barker Valley Days

The story of the Dutton Bay Tramway dates back to 1968, when my good friend Peter Knife and I decided to construct a narrow gauge model. This line, called the Barker Valley Railway was a coal hauler set in northern New South Wales. The model was built, as befitted two university students, as cheaply as possible, and made use of the Eggerbahn and Minitrains models, and Peco 009 crazy track. The very basic benchwork was located in my bedroom, in my parent's house.

Progress was slow, and following an exciting railfan trip to the Eyre Peninsula, a decision was made to relocate the model to that part of Australia. Thus the Dutton Bay Tramway was born.

Early DBT Days

The pressures of study, women and a lack of funds, meant that the layout remained bare of scenery, and although many operating sessions were held they never quite felt like a real railway. Obviously the lack of scenery was a contributing factor, but the only locomotives available at the time were small 4-wheel steamers and the famous Minitrains Plymouth.

BVR train leaving Birriwa The operating characteristics of the small locos, combined with poor running four wheel wagons and unrealistic and non-performing couplers, left us disenchanted with narrow gauge modelling. An effort was made to improve reliability: a number of bogie wagons were constructed, the genesis of our existing goods vehicle fleet, and an alternative coupler was found, one based on the H0 scale X2F coupler. The wagons were a success, even though the bodies were somewhat crude compared to those built today, but the couplings proved to be no bettter than the originals, and as a result the model languished until eventually being dismantled following my marriage in 1973.


Decauville 5 in the depot Over the next ten years or so little progress was made. The first two diesel locomotives were purchased, a Lilliput B-B diesel-hydraulic, and the Bemo German B-B V52 shunting loco. A start was made towards equipping the vehicles with Kadee N-scale couplings, but not much more.

Later in the 1980s though two things happened. Peter made a bold commitment to exhibit a narrow gauge layout at Liverpool 1988, and I was transferred to England for a couple of years, my rolling stock naturally being cared-for by him. This combination resulted in the appearance of Anunaka in October 1988, and the beginnings of the Dutton Bay Tramway as it is today.

Current Days

Since then we have debated at length anything to do with the model, from style of station building through to the composition of the goods fleet in order to try and ensure that we had a cohesive model. A model where "there is nothing here that is out of place".

Currently our combined modules give us an exhibition standard layout in a "J" shape, 5.1m x 4.5m x 2.5m.

As well as trying to ensure that anything added to the layout is appropriate, we are strict on the running qualities of any new vehicles. Even though the BVR was nearly 30 years ago, our memories of trying to operate back then still haunt us, and so we require good running, properly adjusted couplers and "standard" weight before any item of rolling stock is seen on the DBT.

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Last Modified June 14, 1997