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A British style station platform

by Philip Brockbank (railwayman198)

A number of people have asked how I made the station platform at Fern Gully so I thought I'd write a few notes about how it was done.  The station sits on a base of concrete blocks raised about 18 inches above ground level so it is nice and flat and stable to start with. I wanted to build the platform walls from something resembling brick or stone then infill with concrete. A number of suppliers make wall sections from cast cement but my platform curves at one end so I needed a different method. While browsing in a DIY shed I spotted packs of ceramic mosaic tiles in a matt buff colour that looked suitable. They come in one foot square sheets, each sheet consisting of 144 one inch square tiles stuck to a card mesh backing. I cut the card backing resulting in strips each of 12 small tiles. The platform wall was then built by laying these strips, using waterproof tile cement as mortar. Only the edges of the tiles are seen, except for the top layer. Four layers gave me the height I wanted for a narrow gauge platform. Where the platform curves I cut partway through the card backing between the tiles to allow the strips to flex. I gave the wall a very light spray with a dull grey/brown colour paint before cementing the top layer in place, slightly proud of the rest of the wall, to represent the coping stones. When all was set hard I filled between the walls with cement. I was worried about the mix being too lumpy so I used fine aquarium gravel for the aggregate. A bit expensive but you don't need much for a job this size.

There are a couple of things I would do differently if starting again. You will notice that I have used LGB lamps but buried them in the concrete, base and all. This looks good, and the lights still work after 5 years in place, but even LGB flexi plastic cannot withstand cats and foxes constantly pushing past them. All three lamps have snapped at the waist and need re-glueing regularly. Also, I got lazy and decided that as the rear platform wall would seldom be seen I would cheat and use a bit of wood instead, fixing the coping stones on top with tile cement. This has not proved durable and needs frequent maintenance, re-fixing the tiles with silicone as they come loose. The other thing I was not entirely happy about at first was the colour of the concrete. I mixed some black colouring powder with the mix to darken it but it dried with a slight blue tint. This can be seen in the early view below which was taken shortly after the platform was made. I wished I had put some brown in the mix as well. Fortunately in time the surface has weathered to an acceptable colour.
The irony is that having gone to the trouble of constructing a British style platform I have since changed tack and have adopted a Caribbean theme...ah well, I'm not going to rip it up now.