‘Austerity’  2-8-0 works a freight over the Portsmouth Direct in 1944

The village of Rowland’s Castle, Hampshire lies 8 miles to the north of Portsmouth on the ‘Portsmouth Direct’ railway line which runs from London Waterloo down to Portsmouth. The railway line was built in 1859 and was electrified in 1937.

In 1944, at the height of the second world war, the station was chosen as one of the de-training stations for allied troops who camped in nearby forests in preparation for the D-Day landings in Normandy.  Troops would arrive from all parts of the country, de-train and travel in convoys of lorries into camp.   A 10 mile deep restricted civilian movement zone was enforced all along the south coast of England and the troop camps were sealed off.  Blackout restrictions applied and petrol and food rationing was at its height.

Amazingly the picture at the head of this post is not a photograph of the Southern Railway in wartime, but a photograph of the Rowlands Castle Model Railway. The model buildings are based on real buildings that existed in 1944 in the village and include the station, a chapel, 3 pubs and several cottages. The colouring of buildings and landscape is based on colour photos taken from a book of USA servicemens’ photo’s taken in 1944 which are probably the first colour pictures of Britain ever taken.

Thanks to the inspiration of Roye England’s Pendon the quality of railway modelling in England has improved by light years from the standards that were the norm in the 1950s and 60s. In those days a model railway was judged by the quality of the model locomotives wagons and coaches. The landscape and buildings very much took second place. Nowadays you can take it for granted that the quality of the rolling stock will be superb, the aim is to make the scenery that the railway runs through as realistic as possible.

Peter Goss’s Rowland’s Castle is very, very good. If you can get to the Trainswest model railway exhibition this weekend (16 and 17 May) in Melksham you can see Peter’s work yourself and also see 31 other model railway layouts. Highly recommended.


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3 Responses to “Trainwest”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    I have MUCH earlier oringinal colour transparencies of Britian in my own collection than WW2. Some from as far back as 1913. Even Polish colour photographs are available from pre 1930 as Krakow museum has a large collection of Autochromes.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      Maybe you would like to share one or two such photographs with us and write a few words about your collection for BTWT?

  2. Phil Says:

    I was operating the other WW2 layouyt at Trainwest, Overlord. You can read about here:

    or skip to the photos here:

    and Rowlands Castle is a VERY nice layout.

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