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Author Previous Topic: An Introduction... and a Pic or Two Topic Next Topic: A Tilt-a-Whirl project
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Carl B

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Posted - 06/01/2019 :  08:37:27 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dickens Victorian London Build

Country: USA | Posts: 4149

Carl B

Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  08:38:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello again, friends. Welcome to a scratch build of a diorama depicting an imaginary corner city block of 19th century London England, in HO scale. The structures will be based on actual 1870's photographs I've found on-line, specifically from the city of London & other archives. This project was a request from my married daughter, a history & Charles Dickens buff, to construct this project for display in her new home. She is a big believer in dirt and grime, and this locale and era featured plenty of that!

There's no electricity, no cars and barely any clean water....

This will not be a 360 degree viewable diorama, and none of these buildings will have 4 walls, it's one continuous structure with shared walls, and interconnected rooves. It must be kept very small, she's asking for 18" wide or less, and 12" deep or less. Sorry, there's no space for a railroad here, not even trolley tracks.

To be perfectly clear, this is "80% scratch", because I will be using some commercial windows and doors, etc. The building carcasses etc., will be made from common modelers supplies.

This project won't be an exact rendition of the photos, but they will be the guideline for what TO build. Colors of the era were VERY limited, and will require research and semi-educated guess work.....

I've never attempted a project from this time period, so new methods and ideas will be necessary. After seeing member Sgt Bob's similar project, I was inspired to build one. He has also graciously offered his assistance. I'll be jumping around on different projects/structures continuously, to keep up my interest.

The structure reference photos, taken in 1875 in the impoverished sections of London, that I'm using as a guide:

Oxford Arms Hotel

On a street called Drury Lane...Johnson Coal & Coke (left)...Crafter & Stockley Watchmakers (right)

The opposite direction of the second picture....

I'll base one building on this look. It will be a featureless brick walled factory with many windows. Probably add another story to the height.

I drew some crude HO scale sketches of these structures. Some folks appear in the 2nd photo, so I tried to use their height as an estimate of other elevations. Tichy doors and windows will be used, mostly 6 over 6, as shown in the photos.

I started with thin card mock-ups of the front walls only.

I loosely taped together all the walls I'll need to build. My daughter, once seeing these forms, started moving and folding the orientation of each, till she came up with this "curved corner".

A better view... given this space, and the limited display areas in her own home, she settled on the footprint of the buildings, at approx, 14" wide X 10" deep. This does not include streets or sidewalks.

She liked this arrangement and so do I.. so to be sure we don't lose that shape, a line was drawn against the base perimeter of those cards on a plain sheet of cardboard.

There is a large amount of masonry in this era, the challenge is to come up with a believable surface. I'm not interested in a commercial sheet product for highly visible areas, so I'm going to build a few of my own stucco walls...

I'll experiment with that process .....next time....

Edited by - Carl B on 06/01/2019 08:50:01 AM

Country: USA | Posts: 4149 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:00:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is going to be fun, looking forward to it !!

Country: USA | Posts: 2351 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:07:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for posting this Carl. You have your work cut out for you for quite some time. I'm sure the forum members should find some inspiration with following your progress. I certainly will.


Country: USA | Posts: 4695 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:17:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This will be a lot of fun to watch. We visited York, among other places, last summer, and I got a "York in Black & White" calendar. So today I got to look at the next photo, "The Shambles" in the early ;50s, with similar architecture.


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

Country: USA | Posts: 8837 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:26:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I love this one. I too am a Dickens nut.

I made a similar diorama years ago and have posted it to the forum before, in fact I have
used the photo as my Christmas Card.

I will be following every step and I'm sure I'll be enjoying it greatly.



Country: USA | Posts: 4246 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:55:23 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Found it!
Nice looking project Carl. Looks to be a complex scratch build. Glad to see you have a daughter involved and enjoying this hobby of ours. Looking forward to your progress.

Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast
Post count: 5000 posts added to below count.

Country: USA | Posts: 16112 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 06/01/2019 :  09:57:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
it's always an exciting day when carl starts a new project. i'm subscribing to this thread.

Country: USA | Posts: 1733 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  10:19:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What a great idea! Go Team Carl!

Although I'm not particularly a Dickens fan, I do enjoy the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and I can see him now, shuffling down the street in a disguise, or saying "Quickly, Watson! The game is afoot!"

I may not chime in often, but I'll certainly be watching this from the many shadows....

in Michigan

Country: USA | Posts: 7530 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  12:00:57 PM  Show Profile  Send Guff an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I love the looks of the original buildings. All of the different building textures give a unique character to the blended buildings. This is going to be an interesting diorama. Looking forward to following your approach.

David Guffey

Country: USA | Posts: 2094 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 06/01/2019 :  12:45:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Will, this well be different and interesting. I'll be following with interest.


It's only make-believe

Country: USA | Posts: 5709 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  2:58:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
God had to run all the way back from the beach when I heard Carl was starting a new thread!!

This should be like a "Jack the Ripper" tale!!

Looking forward to the build Carl.


"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." A. Lincoln

Country: USA | Posts: 13204 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  4:20:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, now you've done it Ollie! Started a very ambitious project, deal me in.


Take the red pill

Country: USA | Posts: 6161 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 06/01/2019 :  4:25:27 PM  Show Profile  Send mark_dalrymple an AOL message  Reply with Quote
What a funtastic project, Carl!

Diagon alley from the Harry Potter movies might be of some help for colours and details - its no doubt very well researched (although I don't know about the dragon or the self knitting jersey!). I found this link of a walk through.


With the curved walls and the walk over you will be able to compose the scene nicely.
It might be worth while to investigate leaving a view from behind under the walk over? Regardless - I'll be watching!

Cheers, Mark.

Country: New Zealand | Posts: 1270 Go to Top of Page

Michael Hohn

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  4:52:51 PM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote

A lot of adjectives come to mind: grubby, shabby, forlorn, decrepit. Iím interested in how you achieve that look, as well as the varied building materials.


Country: USA | Posts: 7207 Go to Top of Page

Carl B

Premium Member

Posted - 06/01/2019 :  7:29:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you for following along with me Fred, Rich, Dave G., Bob S., Louis, Kevin, Pete, Dave E., Bob H., Jerry, Jim, Mark and Mike!

Mark- Thanks for the You Tube link. I have already seen that video, and it is indeed full of similar stuff as I'm going after.

This will require several learning experiences for me, as it will be the first time I've ever tried a subject like this..

Research, research, research.....

Country: USA | Posts: 4149 Go to Top of Page
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