Model Railways take Bognor Regis visitors back to the past

Crowds at the event Photo by Kate Shemilt ks160001-10
Crowds at the event Photo by Kate Shemilt ks160001-10

VISITORS to the annual Bognor Regis railway exhibition could travel back in time at its best layout.

The 1950s model depicted the narrow gauge clay pit lines on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorest. Its authenticity earned its exhibitor John Thorne the Maxted Trophy from Bognor Regis Model Railway Club.

This was awarded by the club’s chairman, Adrian Taylor, with deputy town mayor Cllr Pat Dillon.

Mr Taylor said: “Anybody from that location will instantly recognise it from this layout. Some other layouts here do that as well. But this one is that bit better.

“It is pure to its location even down to a little war memorial on an overlooking hill.”

The 009 gauge layout – 11ft long – contains rolling stock from the 50s as well as models of some of the original buildings on the lines which closed more than 40 years ago.

Mr Thorne said: “I’m delighted to win the award. It’s always nice when other people appreciate your hard work. This is the first time I have been to this exhibition but this layout has been around Europe and has been shown in France, Germany and Holland.”

Another of the 16 layouts which accurately recreated the past was Portsea by Bognor club members Paul Hopkins and John Wakeman.

The 18ft long model represented the raised three-quarter of a mile of double track between Portsmouth and Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour stations.

It took the pair seven months to build and contains 50ft of 3mm gauge track to mark the 50th anniversary of the 3mm Society.

The layout was captured in Railway Modeller last month. It was the third time in three years one of Mr Hopkins’ layouts had been featured.

He said: “It’s good we have got that recognition for the club again. It gets the club known nationally.”

The unique railway line in Portsmouth fitted the bill for a distinctive model set in the post-nationalisation era after 1948, said Mr Hopkins.

“I like layouts that are true to life. We wanted somewhere that was different and also used Southern Electric trains. It is local as well.”

As well as the trains, landmarks like the dockyard’s Semaphore Tower have been included.

“Building model railways is something different from my day job,” said accountant Mr Hopkins. “I like researching and making the layouts even more than I do running them.”

Mr Wakeman was the acting exhibition manager for last weekend’s event at Felpham Community College.

He said: “It’s going OK. There seems to be good numbers of people here. Our attendance dipped a bit last year to about 900. We’re hoping to get it above 1,000 again. We’ve tried to get as good a variety of layouts as possible for people to enjoy.”

The Bognor’s club Aldingbourne Central layout, at which young visitors can take the controls, was again popular with the likes of Joshua Hillman, six, of Lancing.

He said: “I’ve been on here an hour. I play on my dad’s model railway a bit but this is bigger. It’s good because I can play with the train and make it go faster.”

Young railway modellers also had diaoramas on show. Peter Nicolson and Johan Keijser-Petch were two of them. Peter, 12, said: “I’m proud of this diaorama. There’s a range of skills you need to build a layout – modelling skills, painting skills and creativity.”

Johan, 13, said: “You can let your imagination run free creating a layout.”