Tonight we are looking at my favourite layout that I saw at the annual Portsmouth Model Railway Exhibition hosted by the South Hants Model Railway club last weekend. The layout in question is an EM gauge layout called Westcliff which is a “what might have been” based on the Dorset seaside town of West Bay, Bridport’s harbour, as it might have evolved by the 1920s.The layout was brilliantly detailed and featured some great little scenes but it was the rolling stock that got my attention. The second I saw the GWR Dean Single in the Indian Red livery I knew I was going to be spending a long time watching trains go past on this layout. Having been at work in the morning and going straight to the show I didn’t have my usual camera with me and sadly my phone’s camera doesn’t do justice to the quality on display.
When the railway arrived at West Bay in 1848 there was the expectation that the town would grow into a seaside resort in the same way as Bournemouth or Weymouth had done. Land was bought in preparation for promenades, walks, gardens and hotels. Fortunes were to be made. In the event none of these things happened, the main result of the railway’s arrival was the decline of trade through the harbour.
However, in the layouts owners version not only did the town become a successful resort but the harbour continued to flourish with the export of coal (from Somerset and South Wales), shingle (from nearby Chesil Beach), rope and netting (manufactured locally) and importation of timber from Scandinavia. Some light shipbuilding was also carried out. The existing station was moved to make way for developments in the town and a larger station built in a new location unde the ‘West Cliff’ to cater for a now intensive service of main line holiday expresses and local passenger services. Goods trains bring supplies into the town and service the harbour via a short branch line. Extensive carriage sidings and loco facilities are located off the main line to the east of the station, beyond the bridges carrying the footpath to the promenade.
I hope you enjoyed this quick look at Westcliff and over the next week I will be looking at other great layouts from the show.
Thanks for reading