Category:East Sussex Countryside model railway layout

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Display Area

Area 41.jpg

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41 - East Sussex Countryside model railway layout
Arch Three

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The museum has two interlinked 00-gauge model railway layouts running along the museum's back wall -- a depiction of the East Sussex Countryside in Arch Three, and an urban scene in Arch Four. Currently, two trains run through both layouts, and a third train shunts between a siding and a tunnel on the countryside layout (new as of 2014).

End view of the layout


The section of the layout in Arch Three is designed to represent the East Sussex countryside, and includes loose representations of the Ouse Viaduct, the entrance to Clayton Tunnel, and the Jill Windmill, Clayton.

The display also includes a typical local London, Brighton and South Coast Railway station based on components from Bachmann's Bluebell Railway "Sheffield Park" station set, and The Long Man of Wilmington.


Although the countryside layout was a popular part of the museum, some of the buildings and scenery had gotten a little grey and faded-looking, and it was high time for an update and refresh. It was decided to rebuild and redesign large parts of the layout, and to relaunch the display on Saturday 7th June 2014, as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the inauguration of the Brighton to Seaford line.

2014 restoration and rebuild

Brian Bennett – Brighton Toy and Model Museum 00 Restoration Volunteer Project Leader:

Stage One

" I first started volunteering at the Toy Museum in October 2013 having ceased full time employment the previous month. I was asked if I would like to take on refurbishment of the 00 gauge layout, which was looking very tired and unloved. It seemed a mammoth task and I approached the project with some trepidation although I was given a free hand to do whatever I thought needed to be done. The basic track formation was to be retained and track possessions kept to a minimum, as the layout is popular with younger visitors to the museum who enjoy watching the trains run round. It was decided to keep a Sussex theme to the entire layout as the northern portal to Clayton tunnel and the Ouse Valley viaduct were already the primary features.
The store cupboard at the rear of the layout contained a number of new model buildings from the excellent Bachmann Scenecraft range, including the superb Sheffield Park station. I selected some of the buildings to form a village scene and farm below the embankment on the up side of Clayton Tunnel, most of the scenic items were sourced or adapted from the "junk" boxes behind the layout. The existing cardboard station buildings on the down side of the layout were life-expired and looking very drab, if the model of "Sheffield Park" station was to be incorporated into this site the whole area would have to be cleared and a new platform constructed. The new platform was built from plywood and faced with Plastikard brick, fine sandpaper was used to form the platform surfaces and the new station buildings were installed. Sheffield Park station was designed by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway architect Thomas Myers who also designed the second station at Hassocks (1880), although not exactly same design, the similarity makes its location on the layout quite fitting. A scratch-built signal box to a standard, "Brighton" design and similar to the one which once stood at the south of Hassocks station was installed at the end of the platform. The upside platform on the layout was rebuilt at the correct height and made the same length as the corresponding downside one. The style of timber frame work and wooden platform is reminiscent of Wivelsfield, the platform waiting room is from the aforementioned "Sheffield Park" range from Bachmann.
The Brighton Belle electric train is a popular feature on the layout and given the museum’s association with Pullmans and the Brighton Belle, would be a regular performer on the layout. But running on unballasted track without the third rail just did not look right. Another job was thus created, install the third rail and ballast the track. I looked at various options for the insulators that carry the conductor rail and decided to make them from 10BA brass cheese head screws with a "U" shaped piece of wire soldered on to each, (200 done 100 to go!) code 75 rail was then fitted onto these. With the third rail well on the way to completion, I noticed, on ebay, that there was a Southern style substation model available, this was purchased and now really looks the part sitting next to the track by the rebuilt tunnel mouth on the downside of the line. There was still an empty space near the station which I was looking for inspiration to fill. Whilst travelling back and forth by train to Burgess Hill I remembered that at Hassocks there used to be a Southdown bus garage right outside the station, it is actually still there but in use as a car repair and MoT centre, could this be incorporated into the vacant space? Southdown Motor Services, who provided the majority of bus services in Sussex until deregulation of the bus industry in the 1980’s had several, dormitory depots "dormy sheds" around the county housing just one or two buses overnight, one of these would be perfect to fill the space and keep the Sussex theme within the layout. "

Stage Two

"With nearly 150 hours of work so far, the layout is gradually taking on its new persona. Colour light signals are to be installed by our qualified electrician, volunteer Pete Bryant, and more scenic work is to be done, continuing the Sussex theme.
Getting back to the layout itself the ballasting of the track and installation of the third rail has greatly improved the appearance but has taken longer than I had hoped with nearly 300 conductor rail insulators made at home then fitted into place on the layout. The original (sloping!) river was replaced with a hill leading up to the re positioned "Jill" windmill. The new hill, formed from wire mesh covered in paper maché and then coated in static grass material, has completely transformed the area and added to the Sussex theme of this layout but has taken a considerable time. The former branch line station at the far side of the layout has been removed and replaced with a tunnel. The tunnel mouth is approached by an embankment and chalk cutting, typical of many lines around Sussex. All other ground has been or is about to be covered with traditional fine foam scatter material. With the help of volunteer Sean we are well on the way to completing this ground cover. The depth of colour has brought the layout to life.
The installation of one experimental colour light signal was very successful and a decision was made to fit more of them to recreate a more realistic railway scene. We should eventually be able to run more than one train in each direction thus increasing the appeal to all ages of museum visitor. The branch line shuttle train will be more reliable when a "Relco" track-cleaning unit is fitted.
Over two hundred hours have been spent on the layout so far and with several more hours of work to complete, the layout is, unfortunately, not ready for June 7 due to lack of resources.
On a more positive note a 2-BIL, Southern Railway, electric unit with head code 28 (Brighton-Seaford) will be running on the layout on June 7. These units had a long association with the line from the withdrawal of the 2-NOLs in the mid1950s to British Rail blue era in the late1970s, one of these 2-BIL units survives in the National collection at Shildon Railway Museum.
As well as giving the texture of the scenery a much needed revamp and improving the shaping of some areas, another focus of this project has clearly been to more closely relate it to the Sussex countryside that so many of us know and love, adding a more personal and special look to the layout. The addition of small details and activities in farming and at the railway station have added more life also. "

See also:

External links

Media in category ‘East Sussex Countryside model railway layout’

The following 17 files are in this category, out of 17 total.