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Pieter's NS Quest
or Model Railroading revisited

After being away from it for over 30 years, I have rekindled an interest in model railroading. It all started quite innocently with the purchase of a Bachmann train set for my mother's Dickensian Christmas Village she puts up every Christmas. It never actually ran, it just sat there as a static display. One thing led to another, you know how it goes, and now I find myself wanting to set up a layout, modeled very loosely after the short commuter line in Holland I used to take in my teens, the so-called "Hofplein lijn". It runs from Rotterdam/Hofplein to Den Haag, via Berkel-Rodenrijs and Pijnacker (where I lived for 20 odd years), as well as a number of other towns and suburbs, but these two feature heavily in my family's history. Before all of this can happen though, I have to severely cut down on the number of birds we keep, a process supposedly underway since 1997, but not going nearly fast enough for my liking.

It is the area between Pijnacker and Berkel-Rodenrijs that has been refered to in documents of the 16th and 17th century as "Clapwijck" and is the area where the first use of my last name can be traced to. The references relate to an early relative that lived in a farmhouse (torn down in 1937) on what is now the "Klapwijkseweg"- the road that runs between Pijnacker and Berkel.

I might want to incorporate a model of the house we used to live in, Stationstraat 69 in Pijnacker, there should be enough room to have a shortened version of Stationstraat on the layout. It is a semi-detached house, close to the railway station and the former auction yard (veiling) where they used to auction off the daily harvest of vegetables from the small farmers in the area. Since a fair bit of those vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, etc.) ended up being exported to Germany, Belgium, etc. a railroad connection was crucial for the town. This track incidentally was the first one in Holland to be electrified (in 1908) by the ZHESM, one of the regional railroads at the time, well before those were all amalgamated into the NS, the Nederlandse Spoorwegen. It also has one of the NS works yards on it, at Leidschendam, and this will give me an opportunity to run special trains on the track as this line is used extensively by the works yard for trial runs of repaired stock and new stock just received and still being tested. The auction yard is now closed and the freight yard is no more either (freight operations ceased in 1970), there's a new sub-division in its place now. So I guess it's only passenger traffic these days and a bit of testing and trial runs from the Leidschendam yards. In order to keep the lay-out and the running of trains on it interesting enough, I will model the lay-out for a mid 60's time frame, the little freight yard was still operational then. But I'll take enough liberties with this to run more modern material periodically, you gotta have some diversity.

I had an opportunity to pay an all too brief visit to my old haunts, from May 31st to June 2nd 1997, not nearly long enough of course to visit all I wanted to see and do what I'd have liked to do, but there will be a next time soon, I hope. You can bet I took LOTS of pictures, visited a large hobbyshop in Rotterdam (Meijer & Blessing), oh yes, and had a GREAT time with long lost relatives. Some of these pictures I took are used as part of this site already, like all of the pictures of prototype buildings, rolling stock etc.

While there, my uncle Lou, the other modelrailroad nut in the family, was gracious enough to give me some of his NS rolling stock (primarily freight cars) and 4 engines as a start for my new lay-out. He also provided me with my pick of his extensive collection of railroading magazines and I helped myself to a good collection of both modeling and prototype magazines catering to those primarily interested in the Nederlandse Spoorwegen. It has all forced me to brush up on my usage of Dutch again, something that hasn't been an easy process. Funny how much of a language you loose when you haven't used it regularly for almost 30 years. My uncle Lou, who served as my guide/chauffeur while there, took me to the clubhouse of the model railroad club "MSV Schiespoor" at Westerkade 21 in Schiedam. Their layout burned down in 1995 and they were in the process of rebuilding it. I have set up a small page with some pictures I took of it.

I recognize there are many challenges ahead, trying to model a prototype that far away and with access to engines and rolling stock of any worthwhile selection only available overseas. That's why I call this my "NS Quest". Thank goodness we now have email and fax available to us as a means of fast, efficient communication and carriers such as FedEx, UPS and Purolator being able to provide quick and fairly economical service.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy these few pages. I welcome all , both with regards to these few pages and what I'm trying to do in terms of modeling. Please of broken links or site errors, thanks.

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Pages last updated March 25th, 2003