Wimborne, Dorset (OO)

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The History

Once the London & South Western Railway had opened from London to Southampton, many people started to think of  westward expansion. One such person was Charles Castleman, a solicitor from Wimborne. Castleman became heavily involved in the promotion of the Southampton & Dorchester Railway as an extension of the LSWR.

The route chosen was dictated partly by the New Forest Authorities, and partly because between the New Forest and the County town of Dorset, there were only six market towns of any note. (i) Ringwood; (ii) Christchurch; (iii) Wimborne; (iv) Poole; (v) Blandford Forum; (vi) Wareham. Bournemouth at this time was a small fishing village with a population of 300. It was impossible to serve all of these communities, and with (iii) a given, the line ran Southampton – Brockenhurst – Ringwood – Wimborne – Wareham – Dorchester. The line opened on 1 June 1847. Christchurch was served by an omnibus from Ringwood, until the Avon Valley branch line opened in 1862. The branch was extended to Bournemouth East in 1870, with a second branch running from Broadstone to Poole opening in 1872.

The southern half of the Somerset and Dorset Railway was constructed as the Dorset Central Railway, and originally ran from Templecombe to Wimborne. It was then extended in 1874 from Corfe Mullen to Bournemouth West. The Bournemouth Direct Railway (Brockenhurst to Branksome via Sway) opened in 1888, but it was only when the ‘missing link’ of the Poole – Hamworthy Junction chord opened in 1893 was the ‘Old Main’ reduced to the status of a branch line.

The Somerset & Dorset continued to run a branch line service to Wimborne until 1930.

The branch closed to passengers in 1964, but the western end of the branch stayed open for goods, principally the Ministry of Defence fuel depot at West Moors. But when that traffic ceased in 1974, the line closed and the Local Authority demolished Bridge 75 over Leigh Road as quickly possible. When the LSWR built it over a narrow farm road, how were they to know it would become the A31?


The Model

Members of the newly formed Wimborne Railway Society conceived ‘WIMBORNE’ in 1976. Considerable research was carried out, official BR plans of the station area were obtained, site visits undertaken and drawings made. It was decided to build the model to finescale ‘00’ standards using hand built pointwork and SMP track.

The baseboards, station buildings and track were constructed but for various reasons work stalled for several years. In 2002 there was a push to complete the model. Sadly the original work had deteriorated while stored and several attempts at refurbishment were not satisfactory.

Track plan of Wimborne

In 2011 it was decided that a major rebuild was the only sensible option and little now remains of the original work. Three replacement baseboards were made. They are 300 mm longer than the original ones has enabling the station platforms to be built to scale length. However, the approaches from the River Stour bridge and from Leigh Road had still to be compressed and more sharply curved than the prototype to fit the original corner baseboards. The layout now consists of nine baseboards and measures 19 feet by 11 feet 10 inches overall.

The track on the scenic boards was replaced using C&L flexible track and the pointwork was mainly renewed or in a few cases extensively refurbished. It now follows the BR track plan as it was from 1953 to 1964 much more closely. The fiddle yard has been modified to give three through roads plus a cassette road in each direction.

The wiring has been extensively re-worked and the main control panel has been upgraded and now incorporates a schematic diagram. This diagram is illuminated to show route setting and signal operation. There are two sub-panels in the Fiddle Yard one for the ‘Up’ yard and the other for the ‘Down’ yard. Each of the through roads are spit into two sections, thus 12 trains can be held on the through tracks with the cassettes giving additional storage. Circuitron Tortoise point motors operate all the points and the layout currently operates in analogue DC mode although there are thoughts of using DCC in the future.

The original station buildings were showing their age and are being replaced. Inevitably there are gaps in our knowledge but all the major items on the model are built as accurately as possible, although some of the buildings are slightly out of position in relation to each other due to the constraints of the baseboards.

We run trains suitable for the line from mid 1950s to the end of passenger services in 1964. To add variety we have some diversions from the Waterloo to Weymouth line and from the Somerset and Dorset. Some excuses are a derailment at Blandford, cows on the line at Sway and engineering works at New Milton. We may operate a Southern Railway period in the future.

Booking Information

For details of how to book this layout for your exhibition, click here, or right-click and select ‘Save Target Link As’ (1 page, 105k .PDF). You will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view the file.

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Last updated: 2014 April 27
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