Society's Layouts

The Society’s layouts – and how to book them for your exhibition.

The Test Track


The Society has a multi-gauge test track which caters for Hornby Dublo 3-rail, N gauge, 12mm (TT/HOm) gauge, OO gauge (four tracks), and a combined 32mm (O) gauge and 45mm (1/G) gauge circuit. The N gauge and 12mm gauge circuits have loops so that while one person is running their train, another can be setting up or removing their train. Both analogue and DCC are catered for. At busy times we ask members to book running periods to allow everyone to have access during the evening.

O Gauge – ‘Horton Road’




Booking Information

Contact us for details on how to book Horton Road

OO Gauge – ‘Wimborne, Dorset’

We are delighted to say that our major layout won “Best in Show” at Frome, Somerset, over the weekend of 4th and 5th January 2020.

OO Gauge – ‘Wimborne, Dorset’

Based on the Society’s “home” station. Designed as a double-track ‘tail-chaser’ fed by a eight-road fiddle yard (four Up and four Down roads), the layout features SMP code 75 track and hand-made points. While the track plan is based on the late 1950’s, it is envisaged that it can be operated either as a steam era model, or as a modern day ‘what-if’ had the branch not closed in 1964–1977 period

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 that the ‘Old Main’ was reduced to the status of a branch line. Between 1863 and 1920 passenger trains travelling from Poole towards Evercreech Junction reversed at Wimborne.

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. That traffic ceased in 1974, the line closed and the  final trains ran in May, 1977. As soon as they could, the  Local Authority demolished Bridge 75 over Leigh Road. 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 model represents the line from just east of the low narrow bridge at Leigh Road to west of the Stour Viaduct.

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.

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 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 20 feet by 12 feet 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 much more closely as it was from 1953 to 1964. The fiddle yard has been modified to give three through roads plus a cassette road in each direction. It is now seeing further refurbishment in 2020 to replace failing structural elements and improve reliability.

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 split into two sections, thus 12 trains can be held on the through tracks with the cassettes giving additional storage. 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.

“Wimborne” was featured in “Railway Modeller” in April 2017.


CONTACT: via WRS website

GAUGE: 00 but with 14.5mm back to back

SIZE: 6m x 3.6m / 20 ft x 12 ft

INSURANCE VALUE: £     excluding stock

OPERATORS: To maintain the movement intensity required we need to have 5 people on shift at any one time. Generally use 9 in 3 teams.

TRANSPORT : Size and weight of boards requires van with tail lift.

OTHER: 2 electrical outlets. If display option 1 (island) is used then we use display boards to close off the fiddle yard side. These contain a wealth of historical context and are professionally quality.  



Booking Information

Contact us for details on how to book Wimborne

 OO-9 “Tarrant Valley Railway”


Winner of “Best Narrow Gauge Layout” at Warley, November 2019!!  



Tarrant Valley Railway is a modular 00-9 layout which has been displayed and continuously expanded over the past 20 years. Now 40ft long it gives a real sense of a rural narrow gauge line in model form. Based on the little known 2ft gauge line that ran through the Tarrant Valley near Blandford from an interchange with the S&D railway at Spetisbury. The video below was created by Markus Lenz of Pilentum TV (Germany) and we are very grateful to him that we can use it here.


2019 saw Tarrant Valley Railway sucessfully celebrate it’s 20th birthday by winning the “Best Narrow Gauge Layout” at  the Warley National Model Railway Show in Birmingham.

So what will 2020 bring?  Well…apart from all that…….. we are growing, again!

Two new boards are under construction, both 4ft X 2ft in size. One board will add flexibility with the creation of an optional internal corner section between Spetisbury and Tarrant Crawford while the other will be a replacement for the current Airfield board utilising the buildings currently used but on a wider board and positioned in it’s correct position along the line. The new boards will enable the layout to offer 11 options for Exhibitions! 

Watch this space!

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.

The railway was featured in the February 2006 issue of Railway Modeller – see full article set out below.

Rather like “Topsy”, the layout keeps growing as we have more ideas and do more research on the history of a bucolic Dorset by-way. 

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 the advent of the Great Depression more or less put the final 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.

Tarrant Valley Railway
By Wimborne Railway Society
Contact: Steve Green, Flat 1 Blandford House, 47 East Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset. DT11 7DX
Tel: 01258 268503
This 4mm/foot 009 model railway depicts the fictional Tarrant Valley Railway based around villages along the river Tarrant in Dorset.
The modular design allows for many different variations and lengths from 17ft to 40ft in length. See attached trackplans for the more popular variations and please ask for more information on all possible arrangements. The trackplans shown require between 6 and 8 operators, the layout comes with its own lighting, curtain & accompanied history and is viewable along the whole length, denoted by an arrow on the diagrams. More information and pictures available on request plus a more detailed history if required.
Details & Requirements:
• Two Power points,
• Approx. 3ft behind layout for operating space,
• Insurance Value £5000,
• A hire van is required to transport the layout plus a maximum of 2 cars for exhibitors.
Brief History & Layout Write-Up (for inclusion in programme if required)
The layout is based on the little-known Tarrant Valley Railway (TVR), which had it’s own terminus at a lower level to the Somerset & Dorset Railway in Spetisbury, a steeply graded link line was lain up to the S&D where an exchange siding was installed. The TVR ran up to Tarrant Gunville and beyond for about a mile to serve Washer’s Pit chalk pits. Quarried chalk was the line’s main revenue earner, with two other sites opening up along the route, various farms were passed as well and these were also catered for in the freight traffic. The length of the line was approx. 8 Miles and was built to 2’ gauge. The line opened in 1860 as a freight only line, but in 1867 a passenger service was introduced with several stations opening up along the line to serve local villages  and towns.
The line originally had just three engines and 16 wagons, the rest being brought in second hand as and when they became available from other sources.
The railway prospered up until the First World War, when the original source of chalk at Washer’s Pit became exhausted and this section of line beyond Tarrant Gunville closed. The stub of this line became a cattle/sheep dock for the town. Running on borrowed time and with the events of the Great Depression, the line closed at the outbreak of World War 2, with all the materials going towards the war effort.
The model depicts the line as it was in the 1920s/30s.
The stock is mainly Parkside-Dundas plastic kits, plus a few other makes, with weights or loads added. Locos are either commercial white metal kits or are scratch built using mainly Graham Farish chassis. Buildings are plastic kits by Ratio, Peco, Wills etc., but modified to suit the location. Several buildings are scratch built using commercial kits as a basis, or sheet material, such as road bridges, engine/carriage shed, quarry and station buildings. Polystyrene has been used to form the landscapes, covered with Woodland Scenics scatter materials.
Further Reading:
The model has featured in the February 2006 issue of the “Railway Modeller” and at numerous exhibitions, including Warley in 200   where it is scheduled to appear again in 2019.

Booking Information

Contact us for details on how to book Tarrant Valley