Keeping on the right side of the tracks at Bexhill

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The sound of a steam locomotive pulling away greeted visitors to St Richard’s Catholic College on Saturday.

The sound effects were authentic even down to a fireman shovelling coal. But, wait a minute, the station announcements were in German…

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Where model railway enthusiasts are concerned, imagination knows no bounds. Members of the Sussex Area Group of the G-Scale Society formed the welcome party for the hundreds of enthusiasts who arrived at the college for Bexhill Model Railway Club’s annual exhibition.

The big G-scale garden-scale layout, complete with sound effects, was set up outside the buildings.

In the assembly hall, host club chairman Dave Gibbons was exhibiting “Wendover” – 26ft of circa 1930 Metropolitan and Great Central joint line Buckinghamshire in OO gauge.

Dave said: “It took about three years to build but the gestation period was a lot longer. Finally, I moved house and found I had a room big enough to build it. My railway room is 32ft - and there’s a kitchen at the end so we can make tea!”

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For Bexhillians with long memories, local member Peter Bossom’s 12mm gauge “Bulverhythe” involved some geographic “licence.” Warburton’s corn and seed merchants premises from pre-King Offa Way Belle Hill had been faithfully reproduced but in mirror-image and next to St Leonards’ Bull Inn adjacent to the tracks in this 1941 fantasy.

Jorge Gorman was in charge of the host club’s OO-gauge u-drive-it layout while Gilbert Papers from Canterbury was re-living his working days with Wisconsin Central in the USA with his HO-gauge layout evoking the 1987-2001 era.

With nearly layouts plus book, tool and model trade stands to enjoy, no wonder the college was packed for the day.

Tonbridge Model Railway Club were showing 9mm narrow gauge “Wittenden.” City of Canterbury club had mid-Fifties “Bigbury” a OO-gauge look at a Salisbury Plain armoured fighting vehicle depot with tanks and howitzers lining the track.

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“It started with a 50p bit of medium density board..,” said Mike Denwood. His compact OO-gauge “Fawcett Street” shunting layout, he explained, is “Based on Manchester.

“My great grandfather lived in Fawcett Street there. There was no railway there. That bit is pure imagination.”

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