Archive: Weyford on Sea layout


Please note this layout no longer exists

Originally an OO  layout of the Liphook & District Model Railway Club.  Started as L shaped, then with extensions U shaped..

This was set in Dorset in an imaginary seaside town, with docks and a steamer service to France and the Channel Islands. BOAC flying boat service to Australia, North and South Africa and South America.

The layout was meant to exemplify how the Southern Railway and the Southern Region in its heyday- generally in times of true austerity, gave such an excellent service to its passengers.The layout was too large for our temporary club-room & a smaller proportion of the club members were interested in things Southern than hitherto.
I purchased the layout & it was provisionally re-named Chesilford. I too found it too large both from a space perspective and to work on.
Little of the original layout has now survived. The main station boards have been stripped and the fiddle yard has been partially re-used on a new 2016 Southern layout in the club. The Weyford Docks section- created when the layout was extended to a “U” shape still exists and may be converted to French outline in HO scale. Because of the substantial natute of the baseboards this will not be exhibitable!
The layout represents a typical Southern terminus and docks on the Dorset coast in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
This is the era of holidays & day excursions by train, before mass car ownership.
For background information of how the railways got everyone to the seaside see the adjacent panels.  
The Southern Railway in the 1930’s had invested heavily in its passenger services. Unlike the northern railway companies, the area it served was not highly industrialised, although it did have the Kent coalfields, the major cross channel ports and Southampton Docks. Its major forte` was the movement of large numbers of passengers. To work; by the creation of the Southern Electric network, then the largest electrified railway in the world. To leisure “days-out”; by excursion trains to race meetings, air displays and “navy days”; to all day rambles or cycle rides. To their holidays; the seaside resorts of Bournemouth on which Weyford is loosely based, the Isle of Wight, Southsea, Brighton, Bognor, Worthing, Eastbourne, et al and the South West counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. 
In this latter area it had a competitor, its arch rival the Great Western Railway. But it had an advantage in having a main line with numerous branch lines to small seaside towns. Whereas the GWR served the major resorts on the English Riviera- Paignton and Torquay, directly by its main line, the Southern’s branches served numerous locations like Lyme Regis, Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, and Exmouth on the southern coast, plus Padstow, Bude, Barnstable & Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon & Cornwall.
In the 50’s all of these relatively small towns had connecting services from and to London all year and in the summer through carriages as well. On summer Saturdays, services from Birmingham, Newcastle etc to the larger resorts, with special cheap ticket day excursion tickets at the weekend from London to the coast. These excursion services were provided “on demand” and it was not unusual for three or four “relief” services to follow on the scheduled train. Waterloo on any sunny summer day was busier than any weekday, with trains being filled and departing every few minutes.  
As each of these trains could carry 700 to a 1000 people the populations of some small resorts could easily double or treble at the weekend. The layout is designed to portray some of the excitement of summer travel on the Southern in this era.
Weyford on Sea main view of platforms. Picture by Nick Harling taken at Midhurst 2011.
Wording of information panel written to describe the local bus, tram & trolley bus  system,
none of which was unfortunately added to the layout before it was scrapped
In the period modelled, although for short journeys many walked or cycled, everybody also used buses, trams and trolleybuses, for those slightly longer, but local, journeys to work, shops, school, Saturday sports fixtures and frequent trips to the cinema.
 Outside London, many regional bus companies were owned by large undertakings such as BET (British Electric Traction) and Tilling, which were partly or wholly owned, by the railway companies. There was strict government control of route allocation and duplication of routes was discouraged. Many borough and city councils also had their own transport departments, which operated local tram, trolley bus and bus services within their local boundaries.
This was the golden era of public transport, with clean, well-maintained, modern, comfortable vehicles, smart polite staff, serving the needs of their passengers, from early morning to late at night, seven days a week, throughout the year. 
Local people were very proud of their local authority managed transport companies, as the profits they generated kept household and business “rates” low.In the area modelled, it is assumed the local tram, trolleybus and bus service was taken over by the Borough of Weyford as part of the “upgrading” of facilities that many seaside towns embarked on to attract and retain visitors during the depression period between the wars.
The model tramway is based on an amalgam of the tramways still operating in the 40’s and 50’s, a period when many systems were abandoned. Bournemouth and Hastings systems had already converted to trolleybus; Southampton had just survived the war and was then replaced by motor bus routes in 1948 and Portsmouth’s system had also gone before the Second World War.
The Weyford system has been retained as part of the town’s attractions, (as the Blackpool system) with the routes serving the railway station and sea front retained. Other routes have been converted or extended by the use of trolley bus (see the area by the cottage hospital with a trolley bus turntable). 
Both trams and trolley bus were ideally suited to moving large numbers of people in comfort, with the minimum of fuss and were thus ideal for seaside towns with large numbers of visitors.Many of the trams on the model are based on prototypes that ran in London, Blackpool, etc. We have imagined Weyford Borough Council has ensured the future of is remaining tram route, by buying and preserving trams from around Britain because tram manufacture generally ceased in the U.K. in the late 50’s.Look out for the areas of “reserved track” for the trams on the sea front, the cast iron tram stops, and the “street running” in front of the station, together with the support poles and wires for the overhead power supply used in some parts by both the trams and trolley buses.   
WEYFORD ON SEA As viewed from the station end. Photo taken at a Midhurst exhibition probably in 2011. The main building built by Eric King captures the Southern Odeon style of the 1930’s
Description of the fictional location
Weyford is a fictional place but we have given it a geographical location and some history.
The location is west of Bournemouth and Weymouth and east of Lyme Regis, thus Weyford is in Dorset. Weyford was, like Bournemouth, made by the railway, with one company, the Weyford Estate Company being the prime developer and land owner.
As part of the railway terminus being constructed by the L&SWR, sea defences and a promenade were created and later a horse tramway was placed along it. The tramway was extended and electrified in the early 1900’s
The harbour was enlarged in the late 1890’s /early 1900’s with investment and takeover by the L&SWR, who wished to operate a steamer services to the Channel Islands and the Continent, to compete with the GWR services from Weymouth. 
In 1905 a new connection was provided from what had become Weyford Town station to the harbour, with a station constructed at the quayside. Cranes were installed to speed the off-loading of ships carrying the seasonal traffic of flowers, tomatoes and potatoes from the Channel Islands.
The town’s promenade was enlarged and modernised and the tramway improved by Weyford Borough Council, when the Southern Railway rebuilt the station in art-deco style in 1936 & renamed it Weyford on Sea. The company also increased the platform numbers and length and improved the track layout and signalling including replacing a level crossing with a pedestrian over bridge, giving improved access to the promenade and beach. A new harbour station building was also planned at this time but completion was delayed by the onset of war. The harbour facilities were subsequently damaged in Luftwaffe raids and it had to wait until 1946 when the Southern rebuilt the quayside station, now called Weyford Docks, with extended platforms and canopies. The SR also provided covered footways to a new passenger terminal for its own steamer services to France and a new BOAC terminal for their flying boat services to the Mediterranean, Africa, South East Asia and Australia.   
The line serving Weyford Town is assumed to be of L&SWR origin, with running rights, acting as a south western terminus of the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR), which ran from Bath Green Park. In this respect it performs a similar function to Bournemouth West, but is somewhat smaller. The S&DJR line was mainly single line with fierce gradients as it crossed the Mendips.  The Weyford line is reached via a triangular junction with the Dorchester (South) to Axminster line (proposed but never built), at Weyford Junction. 
There is a regular main line service to and from Weyford via Dorchester (South), Poole, Southampton and Waterloo. In the summer season there are through carriage services from and to London and regular through trains are provided to and from Wales, the Midlands and North via the Somerset & Dorset line. There are also connections to Exeter and the Southern’s West of England branches to Lyme Regis, Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth.
We are basing our regular services around the last passenger timetable issued by the Southern Railway in 1948 and some of the early Southern Region (of British Railways) timetables in the 1950’s.

Another information panel-in the event, we did not not get all these features built


Virtually alone amongst the “grouped” railway companies, the Southern embarked on extensive replacement and modernisation of station buildings, track layouts and signalling that was unsuitable for the then volume of traffic. Although the majority of this work was in connection with electrification, (Surbiton is one example), it also led to some fine modern “art deco”,“Odeon” or “30’s shopping parade” style stations in other parts of the system. Examples of these on then non-electric lines are Southampton Central (partially destroyed in a WW 2 air raid), Seaton (demolished after closure), Exmouth (demolished), Hastings (demolished and rebuilt) & Exeter Central.
Many used concrete extensively, due in part to what was seen on exchange visits with the Southern’s opposite numbers in France, where concrete was and is used widely in railway station design. Brick was also used by the Southern in many cases as an alternative & Woking is one of these, at least for the platform offices.
The Southern also had an extensive concrete works at Exmouth Jct. which produced all manner of prefabricated items-platform systems, name boards, railings & fencing panels & posts, building blocks, permanent way huts, storage buildings, footbridges, gradient & mileage posts, lighting columns etc., etc.
On the original layout, Eric King built a superb Southern Art Deco station with brickwork elevations- as at Woking.

This section of the layout typifies the work seaside local councils undertook in the thirties to improve the facilities for visitors and to provide employment for local people in a period of high unemployment and economic decline. Concrete was again used extensively, particularly at places like Hastings, Bexhill and Bournemouth.
In the 20’s to the 60’s, most seaside councils owned and operated extensive public transport systems – tram, trolleybus or bus. In this model we show all three, with later an operating tramway system, together with all the sights you would expect in a 1950’s resort- promenade, bathing huts, stop me & buy one ice creams, deckchairs (and attendants), toilets, tea huts and saucy postcard stalls, bucket & spade stalls and of course a pier!

We are trying to recreate a town recovering from the effects of six years of war but working hard to give its visitors a well earned holiday break, when most people worked Monday to Saturdays and had only two weeks paid holiday a year. The town still shows scars of war with several bomb-sites still evident and a reflection on the housing shortages of the time, “prefabs” and new council housing estates springing up. Many streets have guest-houses to accommodate the many visitors. This was the most common form of holiday accommodation with bed breakfast and evening meal provided, but visitors were not allowed to stay in their rooms during the day, whatever the weather! Seafront cafes did a roaring trade particularly when it was raining!

During the late 40’s and early 50’s there was much less private motoring than today. Many of the cars were pre-war and new cars were in short supply, as there was a very urgent export drive to earn much-needed foreign exchange by exporting as many cars as possible.
Many people used coach travel as it was cheaper (but much slower) than travel by train and therefore we have modelled a sea front coach park to reflect some of the lengthy day trips people were prepared to make for a few hours at the seaside. Note also the greater visibility of the police, on foot in the streets, in directing traffic and in crowd control.

Another information panel from the old layout
To save having to take your luggage with you on the train the railways offered a LUGGAGE IN ADVANCE scheme, which allowed one suitcase per fare paying passenger to be sent to your holiday destination station for your collection on arrival- all for the princely sum of half a crown (two shillings & sixpence- twelve & a half pence in today’s money). There was a return service as well. This was a very popular service & for large resorts special trains were run just for the luggage!
Look out for our special holiday luggage train on the operating sequence.
The railway system in the 40’s and 50’s was the transport method of choice to get perishable products from its port of arrival or production area in the UK to the London markets.  For the Southern Railway these included: strawberries and watercress from Hampshire, fresh milk from Devon and Somerset, crabs and lobsters from Devon and Cornwall; and landed from ships at Southampton, frozen meat from New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, bananas from the West Indies, fruit from South Africa, butter from New Zealand, Wheat from Canada etc.  As Weyford Docks has been imagined as the Southern’s port for the Channel Islands, their ships bring in flowers, potatoes, tomatoes and occasionally the famous breeds of milk producing cattle, Jerseys and Guernseys.
As most of these items were seasonal the railway had to be very flexible in handling the many special trains which, to ensure speedy arrival in London, were run at express timings.
Look out for the perishable specials on the layout’s operating sequence.
Pigeon racing has long been the sport of the (mainly northern) working man and vast numbers of clubs were established in industrial areas of the UK in the Victorian era. As the railways could (and were required to do so) carry livestock anywhere in the country and keep them safe and in good condition, pigeon fanciers latched onto this and thus the dispatch of pigeons in wicker baskets to stations many miles away for release, became very significant traffic for the railways.
The traffic was full baskets out, safe release of the pigeons and recording of time released and returning empty baskets back to home station. For premier events, whole trains filled with racing pigeons were not unknown- sometimes special vans were used.
Look out for the occasional pigeon special!


The Southern Railway owned and operated many small and large ports on the South Coast.
Chesil is an “imagined” railway connected docks that serves the Channel Islands and St Malo in competition in with the GWR at Weymouth.
(In reality the Southern operated its Channel Island services from Southampton)
Chesil is located geographically to the East of the “English and Bristol Channels’ Ship Canal” and is the entry docks to that system which gives the Southern a slice of the traffic that is destined for the Bristol Docks.
(The Ship Canal was proposed and received Royal Ascent in 1825 to run from the English Channel at Seaton in Devon to the Bristol Channel at Bridgwater in Somerset, to reduce shipping times for goods bound for or coming from Bristol to the Mediterranean, Africa, India, the Far East and Australasia.)  For the sake of our model we have moved its entry from the English Channel some miles east.
The Ship Canal would have been 90 ft wide and 15 ft deep suitable for ships of 200 tons; not large by today’s standards but in 1825 huge against the narrow boats of the rest of the canal system. The estimated cost was about £2 M (£266 M at today’s prices). It was unfortunately never built.
For our model we have assumed it was and that it was improved subsequently along the lines of the Manchester Ship Canal)

We have assumed that Weyford was an important port during World War Two, being attacked on numerous occasions, as can be seen from the several bomb sites in the surrounding model of the town. It was also used as a flying boat base with unarmed passenger planes operated to the Mediterranean, Africa and beyond; first by Imperial Airways (pre war), then later known as British Airways (during part of the war) and then as British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). A model of an art-deco passenger terminal is incorporated into the model, served by Southern Railway trains. This gives an excuse to run Pullman trains into the Docks to connect with the seaplane arrivals and departures.
(Southampton was the base for such airline services pre-war and this was moved to Poole and Hamworthy for the duration. They returned to Southampton in the late 40’s with a new, rail-connected, purpose built passenger terminal at Berth 50 in the Old Docks. Services ceased in 1958)

Flying Boat Arrivals and Departures as in 1948
1145 am BOAC Hythe Class to Australia
3.00 pm BOAC Plymouth Class from Hong Kong
1145 am BOAC Solent to Johannesburg
1230 pm BOAC Plymouth Class to Hong Kong

1145 am BOAC Hythe Class to Australia
1.00 pm BOAC Hythe Class from Karachi
3.30 pm BOAC Hythe Class from Australia
1145am BOAC Hythe Class to Karachi
3.00pm BOAC Plymouth Class from Tokyo
3.30pm BOAC Solent from Johannesburg

1145am BOAC Solent to Johannesburg
1230pm BOAC Plymouth Class to Tokyo
3.30pm BOAC Hythe Class to Australia
1145am BOAC Hythe Class to Australia
3.30pm BOAC Solent from Johannesburg

Some background information on the era in which WEYFORD ON SEA layout was set 
Some background information on the era modelled
The decade after the end of the Second World War was one of severe austerity for Britain; the country was broke after fighting a war for six years, coupled with the USA suddenly demanding re-payment for lend-lease goods supplied during the war.
It was essential for Britain to earn foreign currency and the whole of industry was given over to producing products for export.
Export or Die was the slogan of this period.
Food rationing (including sweets) continued until 1953, at some periods being more severe than during wartime. There was a housing shortage caused by the large number of houses destroyed or damaged by aerial bombing. There were a number of severe winters, which strangled the transport network for many weeks preventing coal getting to power stations and homes, with frequent power cuts further adding to the discomfort. They were severe floods in Devon, East Anglia and Essex. Few households had a telephone, a refrigerator or central heating
Britain’s involvement in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 severely put back the post war recovery.But there were many positive things.
The National Health Service came into being in 1948 and the Education Act of 1944 meant free schooling from five to fourteen for all.
There was full employment and although wages were low, demands on expenditure were limited to the basics as there were few, if any luxury goods available. Rents for houses and the prices of staple goods like bread were strictly controlled.
There was free school milk, (a third of a pint per day) and low cost school dinners.
In the decade following the end of the war over 156,000 prefabs and 1.5 million council houses had been built.
There were over 1,600 million visits to the cinema per year, which approximates to 32 visits a year by every member of the population!Most men worked five and a half days a week, Monday to Mid-day Saturdays, from which they went on Saturday straight to watch or play sport. Many shops closed for lunch and had a half-day closure on one day a week. Many food shops closed early on Saturdays. Banks were only open for about 5 hours a day,
10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Most people did not have a bank account.Virtually all shops were closed on Sundays- the only exceptions being newspaper/tobacconists in the morning.
The hours that pubs could open were restricted along the lines of 11am until 3pm then 6 pm to 10-30 pm with shorter hours on Sundays.
Sunday, a day of rest (for most working men), family dinner time; listening to the radio “Two Way Family Favourites”,” Billy Cotton’s Band Show” and going out for an afternoon walk-smartly dressed of course!
The full scale introduction of paid holidays meant whole industrial towns shut down and went on holiday, many to the same British resort, holiday camps or to a guest-house for bed, breakfast and an evening meal. Most went on holidays in “Sunday best” clothes with, of course, a raincoat and hat.
Boys wore shorts, summer and winter until they were 12 or 13 to save them wearing out the knees of full trousers.
Trains ran 365 days a year, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the latter being particularly busy with families visiting relatives or going to major sporting events. On many seaside lines on summer Sundays there were more trains than on a weekday!
What cars there were, were mainly pre-war and were often “laid-up” (i.e. not used) during the winter!
The most popular hobby amongst boys was train spotting with the help of the Ian Allan ABC guides.
Some of us have survived…. to build this layout, to remember hard but happy times.
Weyford MPD
The baseboard including buildings, turntable and track has gone  to the club group building a new Southern layout.