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ROWLANDS CASTLE MODEL RAILWAY background

Model Railway Background

The village of Rowlands Castle in the county of Hampshire, lies 8 miles to the north east of Portsmouth on the “Portsmouth Direct” railway line from London Waterloo to Portsmouth. The railway line was built in 1859 and electrified in 1937.

A large village green is situated east to west and the railway crosses it at the eastern end, running north to south on a severe curve.  The model required adaptation of reality and has been designed to run parallel tracks along side the green and return to the north end of the station to achieve a viable layout. The bridge to the south of the green adjacent to the Church on the Green is based on the actual bridge across the Finchdean Road to the north of Rowlands Castle.

In 1944 at the height of the Second World War, the station at Rowlands Castle was chosen as one of the de-training station for allied troops, who camped in nearby forests, in preparation for the D-Day landings in Normandy.   Troops would arrive from all parts of the County de-train and in lorry convoys move into camps. A ten mile deep restricted civilian movement zone was enforced all along the south coast of England and the troop camps were sealed off. Blackout restriction applied and petrol / food rationing was at its height.

The village green was covered with brick rubble from bombed buildings in Portsmouth and used as an armoured fighting vehicle repair depot. It was also a marshalling area for all sorts of all sorts of military vehicles, many converted into landing crafts packages and waterproofing them, before their final 8 mile road drive to the Portsmouth and Gosport landing craft jetties.

The model buildings are all based on actual buildings that existed in 1944, many of which still do. They include the station, a church, three public houses and several private properties. The finished colouring of the buildings and landscape are based on colour photographs taken from a US serviceman’s record taken in 1944, which possibly are the first colour pictures of Great Britain ever taken.  A second source of information was a book “ Yesterday’s Country Village Life from 1900 – 1960 “ Henry Buckton ISBN: 9780715328811 , which proved very useful.

Train compositions and military units are all based on historical and first hand written and verbal accounts, where ever possible and hopefully reflect the atmosphere of a very difficult period in British history.

The model layout is 16ft 6ins ( 5029mm ) long and 11ft 6ins ( 3505mm ) wide, including the operating and storage sidings. It can be viewed on two adjacent sides, the right hand corner containing the station area and double arched bridge over the Finchdean Road.

Kent Panel Controls supplied all the electrical components and include three separate locomotive controllers serving the up line, down line and the station yard. The control panel is located at the station end of the storage yard. The up and down lines are physically and electrically totally separate.