Sunny Narrow Gauge South

Purbeck John Thorne 4

A spring day in April. The countryside around Sparsholt was bathed in sunside. It was tempting to stay outside. However, the Wessex Narrow Gauge Modellers exhibition was calling me (and many others) and the narrow gauge layouts couldn’t be resisted.

It is the first time I’ve visited Narrow Gauge South. The venue is great, the exhibition well organised and there were many attractive layouts. Here are some that I particularly enjoyed.

First, John Thorne’s Purbeck which is set in the 1950’s and based on the clay mines in Dorset. It is very well presented with the history of the clay mine railways well illustrated.

Purbeck John Thorne 1

There are very interesting vignettes throughout the layout, some railway related, others illustrating mining scenes.

Purbeck John Thorne 2

Purbeck John Thorne 3

I loved the atmosphere and the detail. John has even modelled the interiors of the buildings. In the blacksmiths workshop you can even see the horse shoes the farrier is working on (see the image at the beginning of this blog). Wow!

I spent a lot of time admiring Grindley Brook Wharf byTim Ellis. It is freelance and loosely-based on Tywyn Wharf. It is a very compact and well designed layout that includes an exchange wharf and a small locomotive works for patching up the stock. Here’s an overview:


Grindley Brook Wharf TimEllis 1

The scenic modelling and detailing were very impressive.

Grindley Brook Wharf TimEllis 3

Tim has spent a lot of time creating very interesting rolling stock. It was great to study them. I kept finding interesting ideas where ever I looked!

Grindley Brook Wharf TimEllis 2

Another very realistic and superbly modelled layout was Compass Point by Chris O’Donoghue. There is a station on a shingle spit, a fish stall and a boatyard.

Compass Point Chris ODonoghue 1

The line travels over a bridge, across a causeway and off to the fiddle yard. Chris has managed the delicate balance of creating interesting details while maintaining a sense of space. Very clever modelling.

Compass Point Chris ODonoghue 2

I model in 009 yet I found myself being strangely attracted to larger scale layouts. The 7mm Narrow Gauge Association publicity display had a dangerously interesting selection of layouts.

Here’s the Brink Valley Tramway by Christopher Payne – an 09 layout that is the size of three A4 pieces of paper (laid end to end).

Brink Valley Tramway Christopher Payne 1

Chris has some lovely stock and locos. I managed to get a picture of one, appropriately Number 1.

Brink Valley Tramway Christopher Payne 2

Almost as compact, yet in 0-16.5, is Nether End the small terminus of a minor narrow gauge line by Roger Jones.

Nether End Roger Jones 1

It is a charming rural scene that is very well modelled. I particularly liked the blossom on the bushes and trees – a very nice touch.

Nether End Roger Jones 2

After the exhibition I reflected on what drew me to these layouts. I think it is because they all have a plausible premise (actual or fictional), they have very realistic scenery and a high level of detail. Yes, that’s the type of layout I like!


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