Having an interest in model railways, military vehicles and architectural modelling, the combined conclusion evolved into a depiction of a typical country village located towards the south coast of England at a time when the tide of the second world war was beginning to turn. Based on the time of at or about ‘D-Day’ the layout in includes lots of military detail as well as historically researched train combinations.
1944 heralded the start of a new phase of the second world war. Allied armies would be launched onto the western side of Europe in June following a 3 month period of concentration of arms, armour and manpower in the south of England. Petrol rationing was at its height and the night time blackout was still causing havoc.
Troops and equipment were massed at camps within a 10 mile radius of the ports of Portsmouth and Southampton. De-training railway stations were chosen, each serving large camps hidden in forests. Rowland's Castle on the Hampshire / West Sussex county border was one such de-training station. It lies on the 'Portsmouth Direct' main line from London Waterloo to Portsmouth and Portsmouth Harbour.
The model railway depicts the country station as it may have appeared in 1944 using visual reference from 1930's pictures and maps. The curve through the station is mirrored to real life and continues on an embankment as it passes the village green. Some of the major village buildings are represented including 3 pubs and a chapel.
This part of Hampshire is heavily wooded and the large forestry areas surrounding the area were ideal to hide the troops and military equipment. I have shown just one corner of just such a forest showing tents and troops at rest within a forest of fir trees.
Train compositions are based on historical research and ‘first hand’ accounts obtained. They include government pooled goods and troop trains together with EMU services.
Trackwork is SMP Code 75 and the layout is built to finescale standards.
The Rowlands Castle layout has now attended more than 55 shows since its first appearance at the Hull show in November 2008. We have been all over the country and also onto mainland Europe. The layout has won several first place cups and awards including the prestigious ‘Railway Modeller’ magazine Cup in 2008.
More recently the layout appeared at the end of Episode 6 of the ITV drama supernatural drama series, ‘Eternal Law’ which was mainly filmed in nearby York.
The layout has now retired from the exhibition circuit and has been sold to The Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre