East Sussex Finescale  


Ewhurst Green

(building a 4mm finescale layout)

by ‘Caiptean


Fellow Finescale Modellers,

This page is being updated as layout construction progresses!

Moving house in 2013 brought an end to my 4mm layout Apothecary Street (named after a short-lived London junction outside Holborn Viaduct station) but provided the opportunity for a new layout, Ewhurst Green.

Usually most articles start with baseboard construction but before this happens it is important to decide exactly what one is intending to model and how reasonably prototypical operation could be achieved. In this respect it is necessary to consider the model, not in isolation but as part of the network within which it is located including its services; even a viable timetable.

However, I’ve started this article with the simple test circuit as it provided a good reason for ESF social gatherings and some relaxation away from layout construction!

30069 & E5001.jpg

With ‘HA’ E5001 on the test circuit, USA tank 30069 tries the (then)
recently laid Down Main through what will become the platform area. ©






Ewhurst Green and
the Southern Region

Station Operation
of the Model

Passenger Service

Indicative Passenger



Ewhurst Green after my Modelling Period







Trompe l’oeil

Rolling Stock


Rolling Stock

Layout Construction


Running Sessions

Model Shops

Description of
Railway Route


The latest running session on Ewhurst Green can be found here.



Test Circuit

From 2015 a simple test circuit utilised the fiddle yard before entering the station side (still on Peco® track) but laid out of the way initially at the rear of the baseboards. Providing a circular run just over one scale mile, it had been a useful addition as well as the centre of a number of social gatherings with ESF members. However, with the Up Main connected in June 2017 the test circuit was disconnected in August 2017 to allow the Country-end Down Main to be laid; it was lifted early September 2017 to enable the London-end Down Main to be connected.

The test circuit introduced a variety of rolling stock onto the layout ranging from models of elderly external framed copper-topped green kettles (of dubious parentage) through Hampshire units (an eight-car formation has been run) to modern diesels in post-privatisation livery. It has also seen ESF member Kevin’s pre-First World War Prussian steam (very impressive) along with a modern German articulated multiple unit!

This has given other ESF members (who are still building their own substantial layouts) the opportunity to let their models ‘stretch their legs’ including several that haven’t been out of their boxes for several decades (leading to several ad-hoc overhauls) including some whose wheelsets were incompatible with the scenic-side scale track.

For the majority of this period there was a steadily-growing rake of ESF member Rod’s Metro-Cammell Pullmans providing the load for numerous locomotives; most of the TOPs diesel classes having now been run including double heading and top-and-tails.

The use of Rod’s DCC controller brought sound to the layout; although limited by speaker size /technology the most realistic versions being the Rail Exclusive /Sutton Locomotive Works (SLW) Sulzer type-2 (class 24). Fitted with two speakers these are a long way ahead of all other offerings; Charley Petty’s (DC Kits) class 26 /33 /3H sound units follow with other makes further behind. However, DC Kits are now developing high quality stereo sound units so it may be a case of watch this space!

The SLW Sulzer type-2 (class 24) have set a new standard for ready-to-run and (in my opinion) are well worth the outlay; these being a significant advance on Bachmann’s Sulzer type-2 (class 24) model particularly in respect of the underframe detailing. Bachmann’s Sulzer type-2 (class 24) remains a nice model; SLW have simply taken ready-to-run locomotives to a new level and like Hornby with its Railroad range there is space in the marketplace for both versions.

Kernow’s Beattie Well tanks and O2 classes run very nicely as does Model Rail’s USA tanks and Hornby’s Radial tanks. In terms of emu stock 2 BIL /2 HAL units (including a 12-car formation) have been run along MLV /4 CEP stock and a blue /grey 5 BEL. Interestingly Hornby have not sought to provide any fittings to enable a pair of 5 BEL units to be coupled together. If only somebody would produce a 4 LAV in r-t-r!

Ironically to-date I have run very little of my own stock!

07. Layout 14 coach train on test w1.jpg

Using the test circuit is Terry’s Metro-Vick D5714 hauling 14 bogies with ease;
this is believed to be the only Co-Bo to 0perate on BR(S) doing so from 4th to 7th April 1960 ©

Unfortunately, the studio’s daylight simulation
lighting isn’t particularly conducive to photography


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Layout Concept

As a railwayman who followed his grandfather onto the Southern (in my case British Rail’s Southern Region rather than the Southern Railway) my modelling interests are fairly well cast-in-stone. My previous (terminal layout) Apothecary Street had been constructed as a parody of Holborn Viaduct with cross-London freights via Snow Hill tunnel and I had thought about expanding this concept. However, since then Bachmann had brought out its marvellous model of Thomas Myers’ 1880-1883 LBSCR station buildings and I was keen to utilise one of these.

Thomas Myers was first asked to design the replacement station building at Hassocks, thence those required for the ‘secondary’ railway lines built in East and West Sussex. This would set my layout in Central Division territory with very limited scope for any South Western or South Eastern Division workings. However, ‘historical design’ along with a sprinkling of ‘modeller’s licence’ can push the ‘bounds’ whilst still remaining reasonably credible.

Certainly, in recent years the range of Southern models that have become available make modelling of the Southern Region’s divisions relatively straightforward even before the many offerings by kit manufacturers is considered.

The next stage was to identify a reasonably ‘credible’ location for the station and the potential services that could exist. Obviously this isn’t an essential step but it does assist in terms of what type of services could have run and the rolling stock required. This assists in developing the layout and its design towards providing a layout that will ‘look the part’.

However, this station and the services it saw would have to be operationally manageable by myself; there is no point it building a layout that takes a team of operators to run it.

On that basis the favourite option was for a junction station where trains (circulating) on the Up and Down main line essentially form the backdrop for the branch line’s operating sequences

In terms of appearance parts of the overall concept were for none of the scenic track to remain parallel to the track-room’s rear wall and that a less-is-more approach was intended.


One afternoon Rod bought across his Kernow 2H ‘Hastings’ unit no. 1122 across to
have its first run; seen here passing through part of the (then incomplete) fiddle yard.
1122 has run with other ‘Hastings’ and ‘Hampshire’ units of varying liveries! ©

As a model ‘Hastings’ unit 1122 needs its roof-mounted lighting conduit removed; 1121 did have
roof-mounted lighting conduit post-May 1974 when its identity was swapped with unit 1108.


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Ewhurst Green

There are in fact two locations called Ewhurst Green – one in Surrey, the other in East Sussex (near Bodium); thus providing the opportunity to be slightly indistinct with the location if required. Certainly Ewhurst (and Ewhurst Green) in Surrey could have fitted in with real 1884 plans to build a railway from Cranleigh down to Midhurst.

Whilst both Ewhurst Green locations provide opportunity for Central & South Eastern Division services, Surrey would also link directly to the South Western Division as well as forming an alternative route to a number of important locations thus opening up the traffic passing through the station.

Ewhurst Green (Surrey)

In terms of routes to Midhurst, 1845 saw consideration to build a line from Guildford through Godalming, Haslemere amd Midhurst to Chichester. However, LSWR’s Midhurst - Petersfield did open in 1864, LB&SCR’s Midhurst - Pulborough (Hardham Junction) in 1866 and Midhurst – Chichester in 1881 (the first sod of the latter having been cut back in 1865 – passenger traffic ceasing in 1935). Passengers had to wait until 1925 for a combined Midhurst station. Passenger services to Midhurst were withdrawn in 1955.

Accordingly, Ewhurst Green would have been a junction station on a thirty-seven-mile route between the existing railways at Holmwood and Westbourne.

Mixing historical proposals with imagination it is conceivable such a railway line could have left the Dorking to Horsham Railway at Holmwood passing through stations at Ockley* and Forest Green to reach Ewhurst Green. In terms of railway construction this would have been built ‘late in the day’.
* Ockley & Capel station being renamed Capel at this time.

There would have been a junction at the Country end of Ewhurst Green taking a double-tracked branch-connection across to the 1865 Horsham to Guildford railway and into station at Cranleigh (itself having become a passing loop in 1880 as those at Bramley and Baynards were proving insufficient).

From Ewhurst Green (crossing the Horsham to Guildford railway) this main line may have passed through Alfold & Loxwood thence Gennets Viaduct across the valley (both Wey & Arun Navigation and the River Arun) to Plaistow station. In order to avoid tunnelling immediately north of Midhurst the line had to approach from the north-east so serving the villages of Kirdford and Lodsworth.

Midhurst to Chichester would have been under construction at this time but with this new line now laid as double track through Cocking tunnel and Cocking station to a junction just west of Singleton (with its four platforms and nearby Goodwwod racecourse). However, Singleton to Chichester was probably still laid as a single track providing a useful route towards Worthing, Hove [actually] and Brighton.

West from Singleton the line may have entered two further tunnels (under Heathbarn Down thence Stoughton Down) necessary to provide a fast alignment into Havant. This could have given rise two stations (Stoughton & Walderton thence on a falling grade to Westbourne). The Brighton to Portsmouth Railway was joined just east of Warblington.

The route is described in detail here at the bottom of this article.


Imagination could reasonably assume this route was reasonably well-engineered being intended to provide a faster alternative (to the Mid-Sussex line) between London and Portsmouth as well as competing with the LSWR’s Pompey Direct (the 1858-built privately constructed curvaceous and graded line south from Farncombe that was offered for sale to both the LSWR & LBSCR).

In terms of distance this route would have been around ten miles shorter from Victoria to Havant than via Ford and only around three miles longer than Waterloo to Havant via Guildford.

In Southern days this imaginary line could have also provided a potentially viable route to Fareham with trains terminating at either Southampton Terminus or Southampton Central. Post-grouping this also opened up limited services into Waterloo via Raynes Park (including as a useful diversionary route). Although eventually DC electrified, like many places in Sussex its branches were not.

However, with this line it is questionable as to how long Midhurst – Pulborough and Midhurst – Petersfield would have survived; probably closing earlier that they really did. Midhurst – Chichester would have probably survived having strategic use as an east-facing connection onto the Havant to Brighton line.

Dorking connections

There was a spur linking Deepdene and Holmwood (closed 1900 /reopened 1941-47); it was probably intended to provide a route for freight traffic passing through Guildford to /from places such as Shoreham and Brighton via Steyning without need for the reversal that a routing via Cranleigh would entail. It is barely plausible that this spur may have been retained to create a loop for freight traffic in order to reduce the need for locomotive turning upon termination (from the Guildford direction) at Ewhurst Green. Furthermore, with sections of single between Cranleigh and Guildford and an already busy Guildford stationthere were times when pathways on this route would have been at a premium.

Early railway proposals included a line diverging from the Redhill to Reading railway across to Cranleigh. However, there was never a connection linking Betchworth to Holmwood as traffic would have travelled via Three Bridges. The question is would such a spur been useful to connect to Ewhurst Green (etc) and the answer would have probably been no (let along finding a viable route that would have satisfactorily served Dorking).

Even from Croydon passenger trains would have been routed via Sutton /Epsom /Dorking and such a connection would have struggled to serve Dorking’s existing stations. Freight from (say) Norwood Yard would just have easily reached Ewhurst Green via West Croydon. However, had there been direct connection ‘across the top to Tonbridge’ at Redhill then the situation may have been very different for freight.


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Ewhurst Green and the Southern Region

For any timetable the journey times to destinations served need to be understood so Ewhurst Green would need to be considered in terms of the traffic that could be routed through it.

Passenger Journey Times & Possible Services

Back in the real world, for many years some of Victoria’s services to Bognor Regis and Portsmouth were routed via Dorking North (some 2hr 15min to Portsmouth Harbour compared to 1hr 35min from Waterloo) until they included the stops at East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.

A faster route by Ewhurst Green might have reduced this Victoria time by some 10 minutes or so. Certainly some of the ‘fast’ trains to Horsham (and beyond) that used to run via Mitcham Junction (non-stop) and Dorking were around 10 minutes faster than the present services routed via Gatwick Airport.

It is therefore presumed that this imaginary ‘new line’ via Ewhurst Green might have just managed Portsmouth Harbour in around 2hrs 5mins (2hrs might just be a tadge optimistic). The ‘stopping’ journey time of around 2hr 25mins being some 50mins longer than the ‘fast’ train from Waterloo (current stoppers via Fareham taking around 2hr 10mins).

Ewhurst Green would probably have been 3-5 minutes quicker from Victoria than the 53 minutes to Horsham (which only stopped at Dorking North); so 50 minutes from Victoria could have been achievable. This could have placed Cranleigh at an hour from London (just achievable on selected services from Waterloo changing at Guildford). Given the how busy Guildford station was (and still is) it is conceivable that the additional Cranleigh – Guildford services actually ran to Ewhurst Green instead for the onward connection to London - well it is on my model!

Modern Victoria services are more about intermediate trips (serving Gatwick Airport in particular) rather than end-to-end journeys (for example, there are trains from Victoria right though to Southampton being routed via East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Horsham).

Until the advent of electrification from Farlington Jcn to St Denys (in May 19900 very few trains ran direct from Havant to Fareham; this line would have provided a regular through service without the need to travel to Portsmouth & Southsea to change (the Waterloo fasts did not stop at Fratton).

In terms to London to Fareham a route through Ewhurst Green would have probably been achieved in 2hrs; being far quicker than changing at Eastleigh and marginally quicker than changing at Portsmouth & Southsea (today’s electric service via Eastleigh take 1hr 35mins). Accordingly, on this model there are regular steam services from London direct to Fareham thence onto Southampton; these also serve the Cosham and Woolston which were (then) comparatively large compared to other station-communities along this section of line.

Would such a service have saved the branch to Fort Brockhurst and Gosport? - probably not.

Local Development due to the Railway

As a junction with the spur onto the non-electrified 1865 line to Guildford via Cranleigh (thence onto Reading via the SER route) Ewhust Green could have grown significantly through being served by an electrified railway. So it became a starting point for suburban services into London (along with handling freight).

Certainly nearby Cranleigh doubled in size in the first forty years after the building of the Guildford to Horsham railway line and it is probable that Cranleigh would have grown further had it been on a direct railway line to London (thus being attractive to commuters).

Although Midhurst could also have grown from having direct routes to London and Portsmouth it is probably that few of the villages with stations along the line would have experienced any significant increase in size; until recent years few did on the Mid-Sussex line (a.k.a Arun Valley line) south of Horsham.

The building of such a route (including its subsequent electrification) could have led to interesting connotations in respect of railway service patterns although in reality Ewhurst Green would probably never have grown to sufficient size to be as busy as portrayed by the model!

Diversity of Rolling Stock

Ewhurst Green (Surrey) could also provide a rare opportunity outside of London for the mixing of rolling stock of the Southern Region’s three divisions (SED, CED & SWD); some SED services coming down from Reading.

Loading Gauge

Although the LBSCR loading gauge was reasonably generous we will assume this route was out-gauged (along with Three Bridges - Redhill- Reading) during the First World War providing the LSWR with an alternative route to Havant via Raynes Park and Epsom. Accordingly with fewer curves and gradients than the Pompey Direct this line offered a viable route to Southampton and Bournemouth; particularly for diversionary workings if (say) Winchester – St. Denys or Woking was blocked.


Station Operation of the Model

The larger the layout the more there is to control and one can only realistically hope to control one or two trains at any given time. The station layout comprises Up and Down Main lines with an Up Loop (for steam services off the branch and the start of suburban electric trains into London) and a Down Bay essentially for starting steam services on the branch to Cranleigh and beyond.

In essence the main line (with its through trains) provide the ‘window dressing’ for the main operational side to the layout; steam services off the branch and the suburban services. A modest freight yard also provides for a diversion of interest.

Furthermore, I anticipate operating the layout to time rather than a sequence necessary to entertain at exhibitions (neither my cats nor I get bored with the gaps between trains).

JA E6003.jpg

Dapol JA E6003 hauling a freight around the test circuit.
Pictured straight out of the box this is a nice model although there is one
glaring error in the form of the incorrectly parked secondman’s wiper! ©


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Passenger Service Pattern

In designing a layout, it is important to consider how it could operate in a reasonably realistic but interesting manner. Certainly most of the Southern Region’s electric services operated on a half-hourly clockface pattern; this in part being down to the economics of DC third rail operation.

About an hour from Victoria, Ewhurst Green would sit upon a basic half-hourly semi-fast electric service from Portsmouth Harbour to Victoria; services serving Midhurst, Havant, Fratton and Portsmouth & Southsea. These services could alternate each half-hour calling at the additional stations between Ewhurst Green and Midhurst or Midhurst and Havant thence on to Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour.

Set on top of this basic half-hour electric service was a half-hourly fast electric service Victoria – Portsmouth Harbour via Havant, Fratton and Portsmouth & Southsea which did not stop at Ewhurst Green as well as both a an hourly steam-hauled fast service Victoria – Southampton (stopping at Ewhurst Green) and an hourly Victora - Southampton (did not stop at Ewhurst Green); both these steam-hauled services running via Havant and Fareham. Additional peak-hour services ran from Waterloo. These Fareham services would (at set times) contain dining facilities /Pullman car. 

Situated at the end of suburban services there was just an hourly off-peak stopping service to London Bridge (the other half-hourly suburban service terminating at Dorking North). With the exception of the London Bridge stoppers, fast services travelling north would just call at Dorking; semi-fast additionally at Leatherhead, Epsom and Clapham Junction.

Forest Green and Ockley would only be served by the hourly London Bridge suburban service; Holmwood by Dorking to Horsham trains and Warblington by the Chichester to Havant services. Lavant station could have probably been closed by this time.

The platforms are configured to enable the splitting /coupling of electric units should I look to alter the service pattern at a future date.

On the Guildford branch there would be a half-hourly service; one an hour through to Reading (mixture of pull-push and loco-hauled); the other (pull-push) terminating at Guildford. With Guildford struggling to cope with just this basic service pattern, branch rush-hour services were limited to loco-hauled services from Cranleigh to London Bridge (with one starting at Guildford) as well as longer trains through to Reading.

With the Ewhurst Green trains providing an excellent connection to Dorking, Epsom and London, it is entirely possible that the Horsham to Guildford service frequency was significantly reduced to peak-hours only with a single pull-push set just operating between Horsham and Cranleigh.

All this is of course concocted simply to make interesting railway operations rather than any probable commercially viable service!


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Indicative Passenger Timetable


Up Departures


Down Departures


Victoria calling at:

Dorking North

Semi-fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed 4 no. 2-car emus (Platform 2)


Portsmouth Harbour calling at:

Alfold & Loxwood
Portsmouth & Southsea

Semi-fast train formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform3)


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed
2 no. 4-car emus


Passing time

Portsmouth & Southsea
Portsmouth Harbour

Fast train formed 2 no. 4-car emus


Arrival from Guildford.

Terminating here formed pull-push set (arr Platform 1 shunts to Platform 4 Down Bay)


Reading (Southern) calling at:

Bramley & Wonersh
North Camp & Ash Vale
Farnborough North

Stopping train starting here (Platform 1) formed
3-car loco-hauled set or augmented pull-push set.


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Southampton Terminus formed
2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets


Passing time



Southampton Central

Fast train formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets



Dorking North

Semi-fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform 2)


Arrival from London Bridge

Suburban stopping train terminating here formed 4-car emu(s) (Platform 1).


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed
2 no. 4-car emus


Portsmouth Harbour calling at:

Stoughton & Walderton
Portsmouth & Southsea

Semi-fast train formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform3)


Victoria calling at:

Dorking North only

Fast train from Southampton Central formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets (Platform 2)

Some of these services additionally include a restaurant car or Pullman dining car.


Passing time

Portsmouth & Southsea
Portsmouth Harbour.

Fast train formed 2 no. 4-car emus


London Bridge calling at:  

Forest Green
Dorking North
Boxhill & Westhumble
Ewell East
Mitcham Junction
Tulse Hill
Peckham Rye

Suburban stopping train starting here formed
4-car emu(s) (Platform 1)


Southampton Terminus calling at:


Southampton Terminus

Fast train from Victoria formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets (Platform3)

Some of these services additionally include a restaurant car or Pullman dining car.


Arrival from Reading (Southern)

Terminating here formed 3-car loco-hauled set or augmented pull-push set ((Platform 1).


Guildford calling at:

Bramley & Wonersh

Stopping train starting here formed pull-push set (Platform 4 Down Bay)


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01 Layout framing.jpg

Terry undertaking construction
of the framing for the station ©


Passenger Trains

In order to achieve these services all of the through platforms would be able to handle 8-car trains (usually 2 BIL /2 HAL formations). Used mainly for departing pull-push services the Down Bay handles just 4-coach lengths (i.e. locomotive and 2-car pull-push set augmented).

4 SUB (inc. augmented units), 2 NOL, and 2/4 EPB (BR & SR types) units all operate the stopping services up to London Bridge and the Portsmouth Harbour services utilise 4 COR /4 CEP /2 HAP units on the fast (non-stop) services with 2 BIL /2 HAL combinations on the semi-fasts. An 8 LAV (2 x 4-car) formation will inevitable creep in at some stage. Southampton services variously use Maunsell, Bulleid or BR Mk1 corridor stock with one each hour stopping at Ewhurst Green; the other hour at Midhurst.

Set 904 was redeployed from the Oxted lines to operate the (Guildford) /Cranleigh /Ewhurst Green peak hour service into London Bridge. Weekdays this would be kept overnight at Ewhurst Green (along with a suburban emu formation) running ecs to Guildford (reverse) ready for one of the two morning peak services from Cranleigh to Ewhurst Green thence on to London Bridge. Several peak hour suburban services ran into Waterloo from Ewhurst Green joining the South Western main line at Raynes Park.

In terms of Reading services ex.SECR Birdcage and ex.SR Maunsell sets were used along with Mk1 non-corridor 3-car sets displaced from Exmouth Junction services. Both the Reading and Guildford services also used 2-car pull-push sets; some augmented with an additional Maunsell SO. However, all were now under threat from the new 2H Hastings 2H /3H Hampshire units on services from Reading.

Race days at Goodwood would see special trains down from London to Singleton with strengthened connecting services from /to Reading.

The layout easily manages 10-car non-stop trains (for example Portsmouth Harbour train of 8 CEP plus MLV and TLV carrying mail – yes, I know the MLVs & TLVs essentially operated on SED and the latter is outside my era but in 1968 number S68203 did enter service in maroon livery) as well as a 10 BEL formation on a special to Portsmouth Harbour. However, visually eight coaches maximum appears to work best whether this be an electric train or a locomotive hauling two number BR(S) three-car coach sets with space for a buffet /Pullman car or van(s).

Ewhurst Green 71 012 013.jpg

With the London end scale track mainline S&C in place a train of visiting
Metro-Cammell Pullman cars rattle past on the temporary test circuit. ©


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Freight Traffic

I’ve never worked out why Ewhurst Green was a useful location for freight although is saw a degree of goods and container traffic. This line could also have remained useful route for through freight between places such as Temple Mills (ER) and Holloway Yards (ER), Hoo Junction (SED), Norwood Yard (CED) and Southampton (SWD) as well as North Camp, Chichester and Shoreham (CED) along the West Coastway (via Lavant).

Limited MoD traffic is envisaged to service Dunsfold’s wartime-built airfield (delivering aviation spirit in particular). Little is written about the sidings serving Dunsfold airfield; via a ground frame accessed siding coming off the the Ewhurst Green to Cranleigh line. From this siding the sharply curved line crossing Vachery Lane to pass under the Cranleigh – Horsham railway thence the wartime-built Alfold by-pass and into the airfield. Given the nature of the spur and the reduction in post-war freight trainloads were inevitable short with suitable motive power limited to short-wheelbase locomotives (my excuse for a USA tank).

Local freight facilities are provided, although their use is on the decline. Engineer’s wagons (mainly Grampus, Whales and Dogfish) will also be kept overnight there. Whilst Bachmann’s Wickham’s inspection trolley might appeal these only normally ran during engineering possessions so I’ve passed on one of these otherwise delightful models.

Apart from the needs of the yard’s shunting locomotives, servicing facilities were basic (water and coal for the Reading /freight services). Any locomotives that would need turning would have to trip through to Guildford shed. However, it is barely plausible that the Deepdene – Holmwood spur (closed 1900 /reopened 1941-47) may have been retained to create a loop for freight traffic in order to reduce the need for locomotive turning upon termination (from the Guildford direction).

30951 IMG_4693.JPG

Z-class 30951 on shunting duty ©


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Ewhurst Green after my Modelling Period

In just a few years the route was reduced to a basic half-hourly semi-fast to Portsmouth Harbour; stations such as Kirdford being closed with others (for example) Singleton being reduced to rush-hour and race days only.

The line through Ewhurst Green would have probably hastened the 1955 closures of Midhurst to Petersfield and Pulborough to pre-war (WW1), the route to Guildford closed in 1965 along with the Midhurst to Chichester passenger services (which had survived because the sturdier embankment near Cocking hadn’t collapsed) and Cocking station (only served by these trains) closed.

The through Fareham /Southampton services were gone; even the London Bridge service was reduced to just two trains each morning /evening peak-hour as an extension from Dorking North (now being the only services to call at Forest Green). The only freight left was through traffic; this still being a useful route to Portsmouth and Southampton taking the pressure of the curving steeply graded Pompey-direct and the SW main line.

Eventually the line succumbed to closure.

06. Layout London end.jpg

London end of the layout after construction
and laying of the (temporary) test circuit ©


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Station Layout

Layout sizes can sometimes be physical too small in terms of the station being modelled and a degree of compression is (usually) inevitable. So I’d considered basing my model on stations such as Groombridge /Barnham /Ford /Horsted Keynes /Lingfield /Dorking North (etc). That is two through platforms (2 & 3) and an Up Passenger Loop (platform 1). Alongside the Up Passenger Loop would be freight loop similar to Redhill plus a shunting road. On the Down side (country-end) was a short bay (platform 4) and adjacent dock served from a headshunt.

Groombridge, Barnham, Ford and Horsted Keynes stations have a similar layout and sit on or close to junctions, which can lead to much operational interest. Essentially the mainline will operate as Up and Down circuits (with the possible splitting /joining of electric trains in the through platforms) but it is would be the branch (with its through and terminating services) that will see the main operating interest of the layout.

Essentially platforms 2 & 3 would see the through services (Branch and Main) with suburban services from London and Branch services terminating in platform 1. Branch services would shunt across to platform 4 to restart their journey (similar operational moves took place at locations such as Eridge).

It was decided to place the main station building towards the rear of the baseboards. Besides placing the platform-side of the building on view this also left uninterrupted space along the front of the baseboards for the Up Passenger Loop (where branch trains would be terminating) and the goods sidings (i.e. all within easy reach).

This station concept provided the basis of the baseboard design.


41250 & 610 IMG_4686.JPG

Ivatt 41250 passes pull-push set 610 (being propelled by 31518) ©


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Storage Loops & Fiddleyard Layout

The storage loops and fiddle yard have six distinct sections (1) Down Main storage loops (5+4 no.), (2) Up Main storage loops (5+4 no.), (3) Up and Down Branch storage loops (one each), (4) Branch Terminating (two 6-car tracks), (5) Branch Terminating (two 5-car tracks) & (6) Locomotive Depot. These are designed to permit realistic operation of the station with a combination of through and terminating services.

(1)               Down Main

The Down Main comprises total nine loops capable of taking full-length trains although some are electrically subdivided to accommodate eight and six-car (equivalent) lengths (say eight-car emu formation or locomotive plus two three-sets and luggage van or buffet car.

(2)            Up Main

The Up Main replicates the Down Main albeit for travel in the opposite (anti-clockwise) direction.

(3)             Up and Down Branch

The Up and Down Branch loops are just double track split into sections each being five-car (equivalent) lengths (say locomotive, three-car set and luggage van). Alternatively, two loops could accommodate a train of ten-car lengths.

(4)           Branch Terminating

Branch Terminating (6-car) accommodates five number trains up to six-car (equivalent) lengths. Although intended to terminate /return stock into the south end of Ewhurst Green it is capable of terminating trains from the north end of Ewhurst Green. It also includes a four-car length loop for electric trains terminating from the north end of Ewhurst Green.

(5)            Branch Terminating

Branch Terminating (5-car) accommodates six number trains up to five-car (equivalent) lengths terminating /returning stock into the south end of Ewhurst Green. It also has two storage sidings of four-car (equivalent) lengths for the storage of Pull-Push formations or diesel electric multiple units.

(6)           Locomotive Depot

The Locomotive Depot comprises a turntable serving both of the Branch Terminating fiddle yard with storage for locomotives.


31848 IMG_4689.JPG

N-class 31848 in its mid-fifties guise without smoke deflectors ©


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Baseboard Construction

The layout is housed in a dedicated purpose-built and well-insulated studio; the temperature running at a constant temperature from an inverter proving air-con /heating (well worth the investment and surprisingly cheap to run).

The layout’s baseboard was built at a height of 52” using 3” by 2” timber with the top made from 12mm high-quality exterior plywood (as supplied by an excellent local timber merchant). In other words, strong enough to rest or even sit on!

After much musing with good friend and ESF member Ian, this figure of 52” high had been derived from a number of factors; the main one being able to look at the railway from a more realistic sideways viewpoint rather than looking down from a great height onto train roofs. Ian uses a similar height on both his Oxted and Redhill P4 layouts. It is also a convenient height to duck-under when the drop-down door flap is in use.

The height of 52” still places the rear of the layout within practical reach whilst enabling tasks such as wiring and the fitting of turnout motors (etc) to be undertaken from the relative comfort of a swivel chair (until such time that I can obtain a chaise-longue on raised legs with castors).

Nominally 30” wide (the furthest one can realistically reach and work) each corner has a triangular pop-up hole where one can stand up to work.

Baseboard construction was undertaken by good friend and fellow ESF member Terry (a.k.a. the Rigger) who flew in from his mountain retreat in the Algarve to construct the baseboards – the lure of tea, biscuits and Cornflakes being simply too irresistible!

Having constructed the boards for his own layout thence Ian’s P4 Redhill 1938, Terry has since gone on to construct Rod’s baseboards for his 4mm take on the interesting arrangements at Inverness.

Ewhurst Green’s fiddle yard boards were built in March 2015 and the station boards completed October 2015. During the latter visit the simple test circuit was also installed.

02. Layout Moser undertakes a static load test.jpg

As part of his inspection Moser (my tomcat)
undertook a static load test of the baseboard ©


03. Layout Terry undertakes a static load test.jpg 

Not to be outdone by Moser, Terry undertook
the same static load test of the baseboard ©


However, on the station side the 30” baseboards widen to around 50” at each end, which would ordinarily leave the rear out of reach. The solution was simple in the form of two drop-down sections being provided (similar to the entrance door flap) to provide access-reach; it is this flap that is demonstrated in the static load testing photographs rather than just the permanent (fixed) baseboard!

In order to protect the scenery on these flaps their design enables them to be swung through 180o and secured upside down out of the way by means of a fixed cord operated on pulleys. Track only passes onto the boards at the ‘inner’ ends at 90o so there wasn’t to be any skewed rail joints.

Once secured up into place by a simple sprung (brass window) latch at the far end the inner end is drawn tightly into alignment by use of a brass sash window screw latch; this system also being utilised on the drop-down entrance flap.  

A credit to Terry’s engineering skill; the baseboard top-framing is shimmed to provide a maximum deviation of less than 2mm between opposite ends of the layout. This top framing was also designed so as not to interfere with the future positioning of turnout motors and the positioning of the legs to optimise storage; the legs being screwed to the (insulated) floor.

04. Layout static load terst complete and access flap foled up under layout.jpg

After the static load tests were completed Terry demonstrates how
this section of baseboard folds away in order to provide access ©


05. Layout country end.jpg 

Country end of the layout’s boards with its own folding section;
pulley and cord are just visible between baseboard and floor ©


In 2017 protection boards were built for the drop-down entrance flap (using 9mm plywood recovered from my former layout). Not only do these protect the rail ends at the doorway they prevent rolling stock from inadvertently descending into the abyss!

Across Easter 2018 further baseboard work took place in the form of the green painted baseboard edging; besides providing a neat appearance it also prevents anything falling off!

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Track Laying

Modelling in 4mm I have always used 00 although have thought long and hard about EM or P4. With so much available in P4 these days I could see little reason to change to EM even though on the majority of my rolling stock it would have been relatively simple to ease out the back-to-backs of their finescale wheels. However, the change to either would necessitate a significant amount of additional work including starting again with all the trackwork instead of recovery from my previous layout.

Storage loops & Fiddle yard Trackwork

The minimum radius used on non-scenic sections is 36” and for the fiddleyard Peco® code 75 ‘HO’ track is employed being cheap, practical, of standard dimensions and simply laid onto 1.5mm cork. Unfortunately the 36” minimum precluded the use of Peco® single /double slips in the fiddle yard which are only 24” radius.

The branch fiddle yard is designed for five and six-car equivalent lengths. For example a five-car length provides for locomotive, van and three-car coaching set. Longer trains can be accommodated through the doubling up on bays. It comprises Up and Down Branch (through lines for trains undertaking a circuit) thence four sets of roads for terminating services.

Scenic Trackwork

Both Exactoscale® (C&L Finescale Modelling Ltd) and SMP® track is employed in the scenic sections being laid on 3mm cork and paired to Marcway® turnouts. However, although I had a small existing stock of SMP® track left over from ‘Apothecary Street’ I decided to move forward using Exactoscale® as the track has a considerable edge including crisper sleeper mouldings. Accordingly the remaining stock of SMP® track was used up on the less visible sections of the layout.

The new Peco® 4mm bullhead track was examined and whilst its sleeper sizes /spacing look good the overall rail /sleeper height differs from Exactoscale® / SMP® /Marcway® track (it also differs from Peco® code 75 track) so was not considered for use.

There is a small transition in height between the scenic track (Exactoscale®) and fiddle yard (Peco® code 75 track); this being achieved through the use of graduated shims made from card.

The choice of Marcway® turnouts was a relatively simple one; for although they are of copper-clad construction (which many would suggest is dated, even crude by today’s standards) from a distance they still look reasonable and all of Apothecary Street’s Marcway® turnouts were recovered for possible reuse; these being stripped, cleaned and repainted. In addition, Marcway® turnouts are simple to repair and adjust in-situ. On an operational model railway (on fixed-boards) sheer practicality in terms of ongoing maintenance has to be a significant (if not an over-riding) consideration.

Setting out 01.jpg

With 3mm cork and centreline pins in place on the Up Line the
alignment of the S&C is drawn ready for the cork to be laid. ©


Ewhurst Green 71 012 010.jpg

With the S&C now laid, part ballasted, motored,
wired it is tested with a Hornby HA (71 012). ©


The track centrelines of Ewhurst Green were set out by means of both chalk-line and laser technology with the centrelines marked then delineated using track pins. Mounted on 3mm cork the scenic track is held in place before light gluing, painting thence ballasting the four-foot to fully secure it.

Rather than the 50mm used by (say) Peco® the track centres are set at 45mm in order to give a scale sixfoot (although the distance measured between adjacent running rails is actually slightly wider due to the 16.5mm 00 track gauge). However, to enable sufficient clearance between passing trains clearance on curves tighter than five feet radius the dimension is increased up to 50mm; this being used on the layout’s three-foot minimum radius curves. The storage loops and fiddle yard simply uses the 50mm spacing throughout.

Switches and Crossings

Where needed a number of the scenic turnouts were carefully rebuilt to incorporate the required long timbers therein; particularly required as a scale six-foot dimension had been adopted (45mm centres instead of the standard 50mm more usually adopted by many modellers and Peco® - a necessary compromise by manufacturers to accommodate the sharp radii without varying this distance).

Tortoise® turnout motors were used throughout albeit with 0.9mm wire drive for the mechanically stiffer Marcway® turnouts. Even then this wire size is only just strong enough for the short switches on the double slips; each double slip requiring four motors – one per pair of switchblades!

Not only did this choice of turnout motor enable standardisation across the layout (I fitted each motor with a lead and plug of standard configuration) the two sets of contacts thereon enabled switching; one set being used for the polarity of each turnout’s common crossings.

Ewhurst Green 1004.jpg

London-end - Up Line (plat. 2) is complete with the Down Line (plat. 3)
awaiting removal of the test circuit. In the foreground is the Up Loop No.1,
Up Passenger Loop (platform 1) thence the Up and Down Main lines. Note
the use of staggered baseboard joints to reduce the bracing underneath. ©


Ewhurst Green 1017.jpg

Country-end S&C with entry into five goods sidings (middle
foreground), two carriage sidings, Up reversible, Up and Down
Main thence the entry into the Down Bay /headshunt (rear). ©


Ewhurst Green 016 corrected.JPG 

Looking towards ‘London  from above the Main /Branch junction,
Goods /Passenger Loops (left), Up and Down Main (centre),
test track (right - now removed) . ©


Some of the Marcway trackwork does need fine adjustment to enable fault-free running; particularly a few tight-to-gauge areas in the middle of the slips /double slips. This included tightening of the check-rails. With copper-clad track this is a relatively straightforward exercise using a Vernier gauge, fine soldering iron and patience. It is well worth spending time on doing this as the results are very effective.

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Layout Electrics

As an old-school modeller I have not sought to ‘embrace’ DCC. However, there is no ‘luddite’ here – the current choice is out of practicalities and the desire to achieve realistic railway operation in a simple cost-effective manner; DCC only offering limited benefits in this area. As on Apothecary Street, the control of the station will be undertaken by means of an electric lever frame with conditional locking; I considered this would be best achieved through the straightforward use of switches and relays.

Controlling the Layout

Apothecary Street was controlled through the signalling by means of an electric lever frame (with conditional locking) for the scenic section; route setting for the fiddle yard. As this obviated the need for ‘traditional’ cab-control switches and proved to be very effective I decided to operate Ewhurst Green in the same way.

The lever frame is quite straightforward employing high-quality former MoD DPDT switches mounted on robust plastic trunking (those were recovered from Apothecary Street were augmented by the lucky purchase of some more). Apparently each switch cost around £60 new some fifty years ago!

In general (but not always) signal boxes have one lever per each signal arm. However, as many of Ewhurst Green’s multi-armed signals (such as the three home signals) are located off scene the decision was made to use one lever per signal location; the actuating of the correct arm (where applicable) being determined by the route set.

There is a lever for each of the three home signals (but not the distant signals) as operation of these provides the track feeds. Similarly, the advanced starting signals enable the feeds into the storage loops /fiddle yard.

The shunting signals are non-operational but the levers still need to be present; when actuated they prove the route and provide the track feeds. Turnouts are activated is the usual way with ends paired as per prototypical practice.

Hand points are not of course on the main lever frame and here route setting switches are quietly employed at each end of the station’s goods yard.

Storage loops and fiddle yard

In the Up & Down storage loops and Branch storage loops and Branch fiddle yard simple route setting is used.

As there are few instances of (say) a train entering on the Down Line (perhaps crossing into platform 1) whilst another departs (say from bay platform 4) it was decided that two trains would not be running on the same circuit; apart from shunting-forward in the fiddle yards.

Each storage loop /fiddle yard track is capable of storing more than one train on each; this being dependent upon the train length and loops is designed to accommodate multiples of different length trains. For example, one loop will accommodate 4 or 8-car emu stock whereas another is designed for two 10-car trains. When the first train out of a loop is travelling round through the station the second train parked in the loop needs to be shunted-forward to create space for the arrival of the returning first train.

Isolation of tracks the storage loop /fiddle yard tracks is undertaken through the route setting in order to do away with the vast arrays of switches so often seen on layouts. Instead, each of the isolating switches only refer to the tracks upon which each route is set. The wiring is simple and straightforward if not time-consuming (particularly as fishplates are not relied upon for conductivity).

Along the length of the storage loops there is a maximum of six isolating sections with a five-way rotary switch route-selecting the five loops on each of the Up and Down track. There is no common return in these loops; for by using one set of the turnout motor’s switch-contacts only the return rail of the selected track is connected to the layout’s common return. This means power can provided through each isolating section on /off switch across five roads; but a train can only move on the storage loop selected and connected to the layout’s common return. Simple but effective.

Ultimately some storage loops may be fully automated using infrared detectors.

Conditional Locking (Signalling)

It would have been nice to have employed full interlocking. However, I accepted that this would be unnecessarily complex for a model railway and that conditional locking would suffice. This still requires the correct turnouts to be set to allow the signals to be pulled off (thus enabling the required electrical track feeds). Instead of preventing a conflicting route from being set conditional locking simply cuts the electrical track feed which in turn halts the trains.

I shall not attempt to describe the circuitry involved save to say that with a basic knowledge of relays the underlying principle is ridiculously simple and highly effective; coming up with such circuitry just needed a degree of lateral thinking.....

Ewhurst Green 1010.jpg             Ewhurst Green 1013.jpg

Country-end S&C with the main crossover (mainly single & double slips)
(turnout motors and wiring now installed). ©

Left: the double junction is just visible in the distance with locomotives on the Up Main
and Down Branch respectively. A single crimson-lake van marks the end of the Down
Bay Headshunt.
The Up Passenger Loop (centre) feeds directly into the electric siding.

Right: a BSK marks the non-electrified carriage siding; just beyond a 2 BIL DTC sits on
the electric siding - a carriage walkway will eventually separate these two sidings.


Track Feeds & Relays

As stated I no longer employ cab-control; instead arranging track feeds through the signalling with a smattering of isolating sections in the scenic sections. Route setting is employed in the storage loops /fiddle yard with just a handful of isolating /move-up switches controlling all tracks. Essentially it is a case of just set the road and drive the train!    

Notwithstanding this the layout is being wired with the potential to use DCC at a later date; certainly, I recognise the are benefits from a constant 16v around the track rather than the slow starting voltages associated with DC.

Some can find the use of relays complex. However, it requires a significant amount of wiring design and copious amounts of relays (mostly ex.GPO). The circuitry involved is essentially simplistic in terms of its repetitive design. Some might view the task as Herculean, but really it just needs time and patience!

I like to use GPO relay carriers as it gets quite tedious if you have to build your own mounts. However, many of these carriers contain ten relays; each with two pairs of changeover contacts along with two pairs of coil feeds resulting in ten wire-terminations per relay (eighty in total). These two pairs of coil feeds get really useful when two separate circuits need to activate a relay - this can be achieved without the need for selection switching.

GPO relays rarely fail but any design does need to have a means to enable replacement without behaving like a contortionist hot soldering iron in hand! Accordingly, their mounting has to provide reasonable means of access.

Telephone relay circuitry usually ran on 50v (I believe some providers now use lower voltages). Whilst many of the lower-resistance former GPO relays work well on 12v I have a number of 50v circuits using higher-resistance relays; the two voltages being separated isolated from each other and are clearly identifiable. However, I would not advocate the use of 50v circuits unless you have sufficient knowledge and experience to design and undertake this safely.

Turnout Motors

All of the ninety-nine Tortoise® turnout motors are powered from two-transformer sources running at around 7v to 8v. One side of all the turnout motors are connected to each other. The other side goes back to the operating lever switch (relay contacts in the storage loops /fiddle yard); this either connects to transformer 1 (positive) or transformer 2 (negative).

At the end of its movement the Tortoise® turnout motor simply enters a (designed) stall with power still present. I use old Hammant & Morgan transformer-controllers (etc) for this purpose as the voltage can be simply adjusted to an appropriate speed. Marcway® double slips each require four Tortoise® motors. It is possible to install all four motors on a double slip between the two pairs of stretcher bars (motors mounted side-by-side in pairs placed back to back) although this can be fiddly.

Turnout motors have been installed with the motors at the London-end goods yard and branch fiddle yard awaiting fitment. Standard designs of wiring circuits are used to make work easier on both the turnout motors and associated relays.

One pair of contacts on each Tortoise® motor switches the polarity of the common crossing on both Marcway® and Peco® turnouts; this provides reliable electrical switching. On crossovers the second pair of contacts on one of the motors makes the electrical connection between the two tracks. Spare Tortoise® motor switches are used in the conditional locking circuitry.

Although each turnout or crossover is numbered the Tortoise® motors also carry a simple colour code using coloured cable ties (tags). A single motor has one coloured tag, a simple two-motor crossover has two and where three motors are employed three tags are used. Working underneath the baseboard can be disorientating and these tags provide a rapid but simple means of identifying motors.

Furthermore, each motor is placed in the ‘normal’ position and a bright yellow tag added to one of the made contact wires (either yellow or blue) as a useful reminder when installing wiring. This is particularly useful on crossovers where motors may be reversed so one end normal is ‘yellow wire’ the other end it is blue.

Relay panels

Where route setting is employed the turnouts are switched through relays. A total of four of these panels are required for the storage loops and fiddle yard. Each relay panel comprises twenty relays /three-amp termination blocks and two-hundred eyelets!

The relays are former GPO type 600 dating back to the 1950s; today it is unusual to find them with their protective aluminium covers. Whilst the Tortoise motors are powered from a centre-tap +12v /ov /-12v supply these obtain 24v of power from the -12v /-12v connections.

Up and Down Country-end relay bank wired up ready for installation

The 12mm boards are from an 8x4 sheet accurately cut into nine by the timber supplier. Fixed to the board with 2BA bolts, each relay rack can be detached lest relay replacement is required. However, each relay was cleaned and tested before fitting and wiring; the circuits were tested again before mounting under the layout.


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Back Scene

After much consideration a simple painted sky back scene was opted for; this being very effective on fellow ESF member Ian’s P4 layouts Oxted and Redhill. It also enables the future use of trompe-l'œil behind the trees in order to provide the effect of depth. Furthermore, Ian’s adept and creative wife Wendy had offered to paint it!

Along the length of the scenic side of the layout is a continuous support beam intended to provide a firm rest if any of the strip light mechanisms need to be replaced (the tubes are easily accessed). The 16” height of this beam was determined by using the 8’ long 12mm plywood off-cuts from the 32”-wide baseboards. These 16” by 8’ long off-cuts were used to form the back scene; the top of which is held in place by the support beam.

Each scenic board was numbered and painted matt-white ready for Wendy to undertake her magic with sponges and various acrylic paints; the sky effect being carried across each board joint (completed March 2017).

Unfortunately the room’s daylight simulation lighting means the photographs simply do not do the final sky-effect effect justice. However, they look excellent in-person and I’m extremely grateful for Wendy’s creative time and work.

Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 002.jpg

London direction in the distance D6580 is sitting on the Down Main.
Left to right - Up Loop no.1, Up Passenger Loop, Up Main, Down Main
(with the realigned temporary test circuit alongside) ©


Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 005.jpg 

Country end S&C. Six sidings can be seen starting to curve away to the right;
beyond is the junction where the non-electrified double-track branch will
curve away to the right from the electrified main line. ©

At the same time as this scenic-backboard work was undertaken the opportunity was taken to add some room decor in the form of split-flaps from former Solari indicator boards (obtained during my days on BR’s Southern Region). These provide a selection of destinations and types of indications displayed including some no longer seen.

Towards each end of the scenic section the scenic track curves around towards the fiddle yard. The intention here is to place suitably positioned bridges at the start of these curves with the scenery designed to give a visual impression of the track continuing straight on; the curves being hidden from view.

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Trompe l’oeil

Further Easter 2018 work included installing removable curved scenic boards especially constructed for either ends of the scenic section. When these are painted (sky-background) the scenery (including trees) can be added. The intended effect (trompe l’oeil) is to allow trains to disappear from view without resorting to ‘artificial’ tunnels.

At the London-end of the layout there will be a concrete footbridge and level crossing; the Country-end will comprise of a road-overbridge crossing both main and branch lines.


001 DSCN0444.JPG

London-end curve (with the scenic access flap folded). ©
The ends of the non-scenic turntable are visible on the left.

002 DSCN0430.JPG

The London-end removable scenic corner board. ©
(awaiting ‘sky-painting’)

92077 DSCN0403.JPG

Once ‘sky-painted’ this train will be disappearing under the footbridge and
through trees. The locomotive is ‘sitting’ across the (to be) level crossing. ©

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Rolling Stock (Technical)

I have covered my decision to remain with 00 instead of moving to EM or P4 – had I been starting from scratch then I would probably have considered 3mm Southern Electric or even LBSCR overhead electrics in P4!


Most of my rolling stock has had its wheelsets replaced using wheels from Jackson (now Romford manufactured by Markits) or Alan Gibson; these having a 14.6mm back-to-back dimension. Even though there are no plastic wheelsets in use on my test circuit it is still surprising just how dirty the track gets after a day’s running.

Some ready-to-run and all the kit-built steam locomotives use Romford wheelsets as manufactured by Markits. Previously sold under the Jackson brand, these are simple and straightforward to use giving excellent running.

However, the diesel locomotives such as Heljan’s KA & KA-1A (class 33/0 & 33/2) and Hornby JA (class 73/0) use Ultrascale conversion sets. Whilst Ultrascale orders can have a long lead time in production it must be remembered that this is a high-quality bespoke specialist engineering service and the final high-quality product is well worth the wait.

The superb Hornby HA electric locomotives (class 71 in modern parlance) are having their driving wheels replaced as their Hornby wheels appear to quickly attract the dirt; this is quick and simple to do – finescale modeller matt having converted one to P4 for his BR(S) layout ‘Shelvington’. The Hornby models are excellent runners with a considerable haulage capacity in excess of a competing model.


In building my previous layout I spent considerable time looking into the subject of couplings; eventually settling on the current mini-coupling as used by today’s manufacturers. These are is simple, easy to fit (a wire bar is compatible) and today’s standard coupling. However, in terms of the many coupling types out there my favourite was the Winterley automatic coupling although I always liked the operation of the Hornby-Dublo pseudo buckeye.

In my opinion simple and reliable couplings are prerequisites for a reliable operating layout. It is acknowledged that the mini-couplings have their faults and limitations; they are certainly not pretty but are practical and for the most, already fitted to proprietary stock. The only significant fault with the mini-couplings is the difference in height that sometimes occurs; particularly when some makes droop.

The exception to the use of mini-couplings is on buckeye fitted stock where Kadee® buckeye couplers were an obvious choice; a choice that works well with buckeye fitted multiple units although in terms of sheer practicality their use might be extended to other multiple-units where the prototype had screw-couplings (for example 2 BIL, 2 HAL, 4 SUB & 4 LAV units) if experiments with other NEM-fitment couplings aren’t successful.

The potential compromise of using Kadee® buckeyes with these Southern Railway-built units would enable closer coupling and an auto uncoupling capability. For example the Down Main, Up Passenger Loop and electric siding have been equipped with a Kadee® magnet to enable the division of electric trains if the service pattered required it. These magnets can be removed from underneath the baseboard if needed.

It is worth noting a 2 BIL uses a Kadee® no.19 whereas a 2 HAL uses no.20; the limiting factor being buffer-locking on the Peco® turnouts. Had the layout used Marcway® 3’ radius turnouts in the fiddleyard then one size lower could have been employed. In terms of BR-design MU stock Kadee® buckeyes are used for all end couplers (2/4 EPB, 2/3H, 4 CEP, MLV & TLV).

Kadee® buckeyes are also used for the intermediate couplings in corridor stock; again sheer practicality along with close-coupling being the deciding factor along with the ease of lifting coaches off the track. The gangway air-gaps are closed and on Hornby’s Maunsell corridor stock the opportunity is taken to retract the buffers enabling a mix of Kadee® No.17 and No.18. On non-corridor stock such as sets 152, 153, 154 and 904 Bill Bedford couplings have been employed within sets; these really do look the part although currently appear to be unobtainable.


One of my bugbears is the air-gap between corridor coaches and I’ve always sought to close these. Initially I made my own gangway in-fill bellows using folded black card fashioned in a scissors to expand and compress. Latterly I found Modeller’s Mecca of Kingswinford supplied these ready-made to fit a wide range of coaches at a price that meant home-production simply wasn’t viable.

Recently I’ve started trialling Keen floating end plates on Bachmann Mk1 stock. These do work although need to be fitted carefully if precision is wanted; that is without sideways wobble. When fitting these 20-thou plastic strips were glued to the inside of the coach’s gangways reducing sideways play in the end-plate. In terms of springing the fixing plate (this also serves as a drilling jig) is placed external to the moulded end-door of the coach to serve as a spacer thus giving the spring greater compression.

 Modifying Heljan Locomotive-couplings

It is unfortunate that many Heljan couplings have a tendency to droop with coupling engagement being poor and the bottom of the hook-assembly catch the stock rail on S&C; leading to derailments. Having tried (with limited success) gluing the hook and bar assemblies onto the bogie frame a simpiler solution was found through the use of Bachman straight (rather than cranked couplings). It is worth saying on 36” minimum radii curves the fixed (glued) coupling really didn’t create any problems.

Modifying Bachmann Mk1 Coach-couplings

In using No.20 Kadee® buckeyes within sets using Bachmann Mk1 stock, two easily corrected faults were found. The shorter shanks on no.19 Kadee® buckeyes foul the coach buffer beam and when propelling the buffers come into contact. As these buffers are fixed they are difficult to retract (unlike Hornby’s Maunsell stock).

On longer trains in particular (say twelve bogies) certain coaches kept derailing as they entered the straight leg of Peco® turnouts off 36” curves. After some investigation the causes was found to be on the underside of the coaches with no turnout fault. The two issues being:

(i)                      The NEM-style pockets are mounted on a yoke which surrounds the bogie pivot being held back by a small spring. My replacement wheelsets have much finer flanges and so had an increased propensity to derail if the bogie rubs against the plastic hook that retained this small spring to the underside of the coach. Careful paring down of the hook eradicates the problem.

(ii)                  As the coach transitions between the curve and straight the yoke moves and one of the two lugs on the yoke slide forward across the underside of the coach. Some coaches (the FK in particular) have a small amount of plastic flash that catches on the yoke interrupting its smooth movement; the resulting ‘jerk’ causing a derailment under load. Simply removing this flash resolves the issue. 

L1 3778.jpg

‘00’ works L1 number 31778 hauling an
unfitted freight around the test circuit ©

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Lap Records

Interestingly most of the trains that have operated on my layout’s test-tract belong to fellow East Sussex Finescale members and the current record for the slowest lap currently stands at eighteen minutes eight seconds with a visiting pre-First World War Prussian 0-8-0! (This was using an elderly but serviceable H&M controller and could be significantly improved with modern sophistication). When time permits, this may be attempted with a Model Rail (Bachmann) USA tank.

In terms of train length this is currently held by Terry’s 71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ hauling eighteen bogies unassisted comprising eleven Mk1 coaches and seven Mk1 Metro-Cammell Pullman cars.

71000 DSCN0502.JPG


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Rolling Stock (General)

It would be boring to provide lists of rolling stock some of which is kit built; others proprietary often with minor modifications or additional detailing that can make a significant difference. For example, it is surprising how many visitors struggle to identify Bachmann’s® N-class 31848 which appears in its short-lived 1954 guise without smoke deflectors!

Coaching Stock General

Research is often the key to modelling. For example, coaches are correctly formed into the Southern Region’s prototypical sets; something manufacturers are only starting to undertake. I believe this started with Replica’s excellent correctly numbered BR(S) Exmouth branch 3-car non-corridor sets in both Crimson Lake and Green liveries. Replica subsequently went onto to produce a very limited number (just 3) of the remaining Oxted line non-corridor vehicles used in set 904; more recently Hornby produced SWD Maunsell Special Traffic set 273 in BR(S) green paired with Schools-class 30924 Haileybury.

Coaching Stock Liveries

Following trials with some LSWR gate-stock for the pull-push services Hornby’s converted Maunsell sets were a welcome addition; particularly as they have modelled both variants (with whistle or with air-horns). These were followed by the Maunsell rebuilds of the LSWR 48’ coaches; in BR(S) days these attained Crimson Lake livery with just a few of the seconds receiving Green livery. S320S retained Southern Railway green until it was repainted (green) at Lancing; being outshopped 4th October 1956). Once Bachmann’s Birdcage stock arrives there will be little shortage of coaching stock for local services; deliveries of their new Bulleid stock are also awaited.

Liveries are also important with the corridor stock (Bulleid, Maunsell and BR Mk1); these all being available in both Crimson Lake & Cream (aka Blood & Custard) and BR(S) stock green. A concise history of these liveries is covered here.

In terms of the Southern Region’s Lancing carriage works the last Crimson Lake & Cream (coded CLC) vehicle was outshopped on 17th July 1956 (High Window Maunsell SK) with first repainted from Crimson Lake & Cream into Green livery occurring the next day (Bullied SK). By 25th March 1959 the last Maunsell corridor coach had been repainted into Green Livery although some Mk1 coaches remained in CLC right into 1963.

Few modellers set a specific date for their model although many operate to a period. At present Ewhurst Green is intended to follow the latter; roughly between 1958 and 1964 (just as the first yellow warning panels appeared on BR(S) emus. However, in doing so whilst a Sulzer type 2 (1958-built class 24) might just be seen hauling CLC liveried Maunsell stock a type-KA Crompton (1960-built class 33) would simply look out of place with these CLC liveried coaches (although very rarely could be seen with CLC liveried Mk1 3-sets).

Motive Power (Steam)

Bachmann’s E4, C, Standard 4MT ‘bacon-slicers’ and Fairburn tank classes are excellent as are Hornby’s Q1, Black Motors, H and M7 tanks and OO Works H-tank.

In terms of mainline locomotives Hornby’s WC /BoB /MN (all now made in air-smoothed and rebuilt forms) are also superb along with their V and S15 /N15 variants. Even a LN appears on a (very rare) diversion to Southampton during engineering works at Woking. OO Works L, Black Motors, N15 & H15 classes feature with Roderick’s D15 running off its normal Brighton – Southampton routing. There is even a much-modified Triang L1!

The layout doesn’t stop with extra-detailed ready-to-run; for example South Eastern Finecast make excellent kits of the D, E5, Q & P classes and they supply an excellent chassis to go under the Golden Arrow Productions E-class (in my opinion this having the potential to be more accurate than the DJH kit).

Motive Power (Diesel)

Kernow released the 2H DEMU units (2H ‘Hampshires’ were in number range 1101-1118; 2H ‘Hastings’ 1119-1121). Although slightly out-of-era a 3R ‘Tadpole’ is being built with a 3D ‘Oxted’ possibly to run with a 6-car Hastings unit (this formation used to run from Tunbridge Wells West into London) under consideration. 

Following the arrival of the Sulzer type 2 (class 24) locomotives on loan from the LMR, Southern Region type KA ‘Crompton’ diesel engines (class 33) start to appear with a KA-1A (class 33/2 aka ‘Slim Jim’– repainted into plain green) and the pull-push D6580 (forerunner of the class 33/1) although this unique locomotive (trialled on the Central Division) is pushing the boundary of my modelling period.

Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 011.jpg

Appropriately weathered Heljan D6580. ©
Strictly speaking this model shouldn’t be produced by Heljan equipped
with Buckeye couplers and compression bars (since removed).


Electric Traction

It has been assumed that the type-HA (class 71) electric locomotives also ventured on this route working freight across to /from the South Eastern Division via Factory Junction and Pouparts Junction; certainly they worked on the other divisions. On the Central Division this included hauling the Newhaven boat trains with a steam locomotive inserted to ostensibly provide steam heating although double-heading did on occasions, unofficially occur). They often reached Eastleigh; sometimes with burst armatures from excessive speed (the figure of 115mph having been bandied about).

Hornby’s ‘plain’ green front with red-stripe version of the type-HA number E5022 in ‘as built’ in plain green front with red-stripe but without cantrail strips also features on freight traffic from the SED. To-date this is appears to be the only current HA model produced in pre-September 1963 guise (i.e. without cantrail rainstrips). Weathering of these will be interesting as they were kept relatively clean albeit getting shabby approaching withdrawal.

Bachmann produced its superb model of the 4 CEP unit rapidly followed up by an MLV. Now a 4 BEP is promised; ideal for the fast services. Their 2 EPB is excellent (conversions into 4-car are in hand) and some green 2 HAP units would site nicely amongst all these.

Hornby produced the excellent 2 BIL stock with a 4 COR anticipated before the 2 HAL was released; the latter being ideal for the semi-fast trains. One of Hornby’s 5 BEL units is in store pending their production of a second set in 1950’s livery to form a ten-car set.

Ajay all-steel 2 HAL units also feature having strayed on the Gatwick services /West Coastway. Such ‘straying’ was not improbable for in later years the occasional 4 VEG ‘Gatwick’ unit appeared at Hampton Court when the 4 VEP /4VEG formation became reversed so the 4 VEG picked up an afternoon diagram down to Horsham, up to Waterloo thence out to Hampton Court before returning the same way!

Suburban services use 2 NOL, 4 SUB and 4/2 EPB units.

Strangers on the Southern

There is always the temptation to have a huge number of one-offs and visiting locomotives; an area where I am actively seeking to prune back past purchases. For example a Black 5, two 8Fs and WD were reduced to a type 1 NBLs (later class 16) which ran through to the Southern Region (including at least one passenger excursion into Brighton) there is no additional need for the not dissimilar EE type 1 (class 20) and BTH type 1 (class 15) which were intended for Apothecary Street.

D8400 020.jpg

Similarly weathered D8400. ©

One type of locomotive upon which more research is required is the Baby Deltics which were expected to run onto the Southern although were too heavy for use through Snow Hill. However, a retired driver (sadly now passed) remembered working on one (as a trainee) into Hither Green.

Even DP1 and Fell diesel 10100 were on SR metals albeit both loco-hauled to Battersea (1957) and Eastbourne (1951) respectively. However, with one exception I’m not venturing to such rarities as I believe a layout needs to concentrate on the regular (if mundane) everyday stock and operations!

There is also a record of a Metro-Vick Co-Bo (D5714) working through to Norwood Yard thence down to Three Bridges in April 1960; this rare visitor to the Southern being an exception simply too interesting to resist on the layout.

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Layout Construction Progress

Track laying is now well under way having been designed using AutoCAD®. The track is lightly glued /held in place by pins before painting in Railmatch™ acrylic sleeper grime and ballasting in the four-foot to keep it firmly in place.

Both the London and Country-end S&C connections into the Up and Down Main Platforms (2 & 3), Up Platform Loop (1) & Up Loop along are laid, motored and ballasted. The Up and Down Main platform roads, Up Platform Loop and Up Loop are all laid; the Up and Down Main lines ‘meeting in the middle’ by means of a large radius curve (this being achieved in August 2016). The current stage is laying the Country-end carriage sidings and freight reception sidings; these being on curves to avoid the visually unappealing rows of linear tracks.

With the disconnection of the test circuit the Down Main was connected into the fiddle yard August 2017; at the same time a section of the Up Main was relaid (to remove a twist fault) and a trailing crossover added at the start of the fiddle yard’s fan (enabling unscheduled stock reversals and improved storage whilst in use as a test circuit).

A decision in the Country End’s scenery meant a realignment of the Down Branch replacing a large radius curved (trailing) turnout with a straight leg to send the branch under a bridge rather than a sharp curve backed by a retaining wall; visually this would be a great improvement. Marcway kindly supplied a 48” turnout without the leg-end rails trimmed enabling a relatively straightforward replacement /realignment.

On the main line all of the turnout motors are in place and the track wired (I always electrically switch the common crossings of turnouts) with the Up Main currently utilised as the test circuit. The test circuit’s track was lifted and stored for later use for the branch section of the fiddle yard.

The Up and Down (fiddle yard) main lines were completed in 2016 (equipped with droppers and turnout motors) but it wasn’t until the end of 2017 /start of 2018 when the (fiddle yard) branch lines were installed along with a Fleischmann turntable; this being used strictly on the basis of reliability and functionality in a non-scenic setting.

Completing the fiddle yard track enabled a start to be made on the scenic boards at either end of the layout. So, plenty of tea, biscuits and Cornflakes were purchased in order to lure Terry back from the Algarve to undertake the work Easter 2018.

However, track-laying is relatively quick compared to the under-board wiring which takes time, let alone the relay-operated control system that makes everything work!

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May 2018 saw the first of the scenery added to the layout. A warm, dry and still day was needed to prepare the retaining wall including weathering it's engineering brick; this being needed to be undertaken outside and over its entire length to ensure a consistent finish throughout. The retaining wall is now fixed in position with the factory set above waiting its turn to be weathered (after all, this is a 1950's steam era layout).

75008 DSCN0476.JPG

In typical 'before and after' style first photograph is the timber former in place
alongside the down headshunt. Visiting 75008 hauling a train on the Up Line.



With the weathered retaining wall now in place the placement of location cases, cable runs and
completion of the cess-side ballasting can start. With a visiting BIL /HAL formation on the Down line,
conductor rails will follow later when any minor adjustments to the S&C have been completed.


Next on the list will be the pair of cottages that back onto the railway and (in the distance) the girder bridges over main line and branch line (in the shadow of the factory the greenhouse will be positioned next to the other cottage). Just making this small start on the scenery has already started to bring the layout to life.

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Running Sessions

The layout sees regular running sessions with friends bring along many different various models to run. Often following lunch in one of the many excellent local cafés, many an enjoyable afternoon has been spent!

The latest running session on Ewhurst Green can be found here.


1324 DSCN0294.JPG

Hornby H-tank 1324 on the Down Main. ©


205 012 & 1122 IMG_4788.JPG

2H ‘Hastings’ unit 1122 and 2H ‘Hampshire’
unit 205 012 pass each other in the fiddle-yard. ©

118 725 IMG_4640.JPG

German Co-Co 118 725. ©


37 068 DSCN0093.JPG

37 068 ‘Grainflow’ in sector livery. ©


9003 DSCN0218.JPG

I find GWR outside framed locomotives particularly elegant
so 9003 is welcomed as a regular visitor! ©


30913 Christ's Hospital IMG_4712.JPG

Schools class 30913 ‘Christ’s Hospital’. ©


35026 DSCN0525.JPG

MN 35026 Lamport & Holt Line is passed by a Down freight. ©


6124 DSCN0627.JPG 

Hornby class 29 (no.6124) comfortably hauls an 8-car Pullman set. ©



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Model Shops

Finally, I have to pass on thanks to The Hobby Box at Uckfield (which sadly closed its doors on 22nd July 2017) for supplying my modelling needs across the decades along with Morris Models - an excellent model shop in Lancing that I am increasingly making greater use of in line with my support of independent retailers.

Then there is Replica Railways in Swindon with their BR(S) Mk1 suburban coaches (in particular agreeing to produce and supply the correctly numbered Mk1 suburban coaches for Central Division rush-hour set 904) and Kernow Model Rail Centre with their specials.


However, by far the best fun came from playing hunt the cat-biscuits with Moser.......
(A game derived from Moser’s hiding Terry’s tea and biscuits)


In memory of Moser
A companion dearly missed


I hope this will have been of ongoing interest!

Kind regards,



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Description of Railway Route

For those who are interested it is possible (but by no means certain) that the railway through Ewhurst Green took the following route from Dorking North to Havant as follows:

1.            From Dorking North the line used the existing route through to Holmwood.

2.         From Trouts Junction (just south of Holmwood station) the line passed under the A29 before curving around past Park Farm recrossing the A29 (Stane Street) to Ockley Station.

3.          After crossing Forest Green Road and Mole Street, Horsham Road and Forest Green station was reached.

4.         Lowerhouse Lane was crossed before Horsham Road and Ewhurst Green station.

5.          Passing under Somersbury Lane the main line ran between Longhurst Hill and Baynard’s Park; the branch to Cranleigh crossing Horsham Road turning north-west as it passed Vachery Pond.

6.         As the branch to Cranleigh curved north-west a ground frame provided access to the short spur which curved sharply down to the MoD sidings squirreled away alongside Vachery Lane; MoD private road access to Dunsfold Airfield being created through Snoxhall Farm and Lion’s Lane to Fast Bridge.

7.         After crossing the Guildford to Horsham railway, Knowle Lane and Horsham Road the station at Alfold & Loxwood was reached on a falling grade.

8.         Having crossed Loxwood Road there was Gennets brick arch viaduct which took the railway across the Wey and Arun canal thence a short tunnel under Loxwood Road into Plaistow station off Rickman’s Lane.

9.         Kirdford station was located north of the village off Scratchings Lane at Staples Hill.

10.     After Pipers Lane, the A283 at Colhook Common, Hillgrove Lane and River Lane, Lodsworth Station was reached at Halfway Bridge.

11.        Crossing the A272 the railway crossed the River Rother before curving round to Midhurst Station which had been relocated between Midhurst and West Lavington.

12.     Having crossed the A286 the line travelled south through Cocking station to Singleton station.

13.      At West Dean the railway tunnelled through Heathbarn Down, crossed the B2141 on Kingley Vale viaduct into another tunnel under Stoughton Down to Stoughton & Walderton station (sited midway between the two villages).

14.     After crossing the B2147 and crossing /re-crossing Aldsworth Common Road Westbourne station (off Monk’s Hill) is reached..

15.     Long Copse Lane, Southleigh Road and Horndean Road are crossed before Denville Junction with the Chichester to Havant railway is reached.

Despite extensive searches the remains of this route remains unclear!


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