Tarrant Valley Railway

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Modelling the Tarrant Valley Railway

This railway is modelled in ‘00-9’ which means it is to the same scale as ‘00’ (4mm:1ft), but runs on 9mm gauge track - the same as ‘N’ scale - so that you can (and we do!) use N-scale mechanisms to power locomotives. 00-9 is used to portray railways with gauges in the 1'11½" to 2'6" (60-75cm) range.

The layout depicts the line in the 1920’s. The track is Peco 00-9 ‘crazy track’. Buildings are mostly plastic kits by Ratio, Wills and others, modified to resemble actual buildings. The engine and carriage sheds, bridges and quarry buildings are scratchbuilt from plastic sheets available from local model shops. Tarrant Gunville signal box has a fully detailed interior. Tarrant Rushton airfield features a variety of aeroplanes throughout the day. The majority of engines are white metal kits running on ‘N’ gauge Graham Farish chassis, with a few exceptions and the odd intruder. Coaches and wagons are plastic from various manufacturers, e.g Parkside Dundas, weighted and with loads added as appropriate.

Landscape consists of polystyrene bases contoured with Polyfilla, and Woodland Scenics scatter material forming the countryside of the Tarrant Valley.

Since the Layout was featured in the February 2006 issue of Railway Modeller, we have added an inside corner board, which now gives us more versitity.


Every railway line has a history - even freelanced ones - and here is ours:-

A Brief History of the Tarrant Valley Railway.

A public meeting was held at Tarrant Gunville, near Blandford, Dorset in November 1852 with the aim to quarry chalk and export it. A railway was proposed from Stubington along the Tarrant valley to Tarrant Crawford where it was to be tipped into barges and taken down the River Stour to Wimborne for transhipment by rail to Southampton.

In August 1854 a public company was formed to carry out the business as proposed almost two years previous. A Bill was put before Parliament in 1855 which was thrown out in August 1856.

In July 1856 the Dorset Central Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament and the first sod was cut by Lady Smith of Blandford St. Mary on 13 November 1856. (The original spade and wheelbarrow are now in the Somerset & Dorset Railway Museum at Washford on the West Somerset Railway.)

An amended Bill was put before Parliament in August 1857 for the Tarrant Valley Railway to be connected with the DCR approximately one-third of a mile north of Spetisbury station. The Stour and 2 streams had to be crossed by timber built bridges to make this connection. As the TVR was to be of 2 ft gauge, an exchange siding had to be built as well. This made the total length of the line about 8 miles.

The TVR was incorporated by Act of Parliament in March 1858 and the first sod was cut in November 1858 near the river Stour where it crossed the Blandford–Wimborne road. On the trackbed now is a private residence which was a Methodist church. The company offices were built here and they are now incorporated into the ‘True Lovers Knot’ public house.

In April 1860 the railway was completed, inspected and passed by the Board of Trade Inspector. Three locos (from George England) and 16 wagons were ordered by the then company secretary George Crabb.

Two new chalk workings were opened, one north-east of Tarrant Rawston, where a pump house was built by the stream and still exists today. The other working was near Tarrant Monkton.

The terrible storms of 1865 caused havoc at the chalk workings and the swelling of the Stour tore down the railway bridges at Spetisbury. Even the Tarrant rose several feet, washing away the track in some places.

The main bridge crossing the Stour was rebuilt to a girder bridge type (as modelled) in 1866 and after another public meeting it was decided to upgrade the line to carry passengers as some of the line had to be re-laid anyway. A small station called Stonemere was opened with the added attraction of having a boat trip down the river.

In 1867 the line was up and running again, with extra stock and locos being bought in second-hand. The railway prospered up until World War I, when the original source of chalk through Stubhampton at Washers Pit became exhausted and the section from there to Tarrant Gunville closed. The stub of this line is now the cattle/sheep dock.

After these events, it was expected that things would return to normal, or better, and so at great expense the company decided to buy in more stock, including for the first time bogie coaches. Some of the older and smaller items of stock were sold for scrap.

At the Grouping in 1923, the line avoided being amalgamated into the new Southern Railway, just as the S&D had with the LMS and remained independent until the end.

The plan to improve the railway seemed to backfire however and with the advent of the Great Depression more or less put the nail in the coffin. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, it was decided that the time had come and the owners closed the railway, without any special ceremony, giving up track, locos and stock to the war effort. Chalk mining in this part of Dorset had come to an end, by rail at least.


Photo Tour

Tarrant Gunville and Tarrant Rushton Airfield

Rawston & Rushton

Stonemere and the Bridge

Overall Long Shots and Rolling Stock


Booking Information

pdfFor details of how to book this layout for your exhibition, click here, or right-click and select ‘Save Target Link As’ (3 page, 448k .PDF). You will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view the file.

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Last updated: 2012 June 28
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