Friday 1 July 2022

Missing Miniature Mystery (1)

Where Is Wadhurst? and Why

The mapping web site "Where's The Path" - fbb's fave - doesn't think it exists; but Streetmap does!
And there it is, on the wiggly railway line between London and Hastings. As you would expect, the station is some distance from the settlement from which the station takes its name. Both are in East Sussex.

The next problem was caused by an item for sale in one of Seaton's Antique shops, a sign which fbb spotted as he went for coffee with "the girls" (all aged!) last Saturday.
Clearly it was a windscreen label for a bus route, one which ran to or from Wadhurst.
Traveline offered nothing helpful with all its 784s being nowhere near Wadhurst; indeed nowhere near East Sussex. But then a second challenge to the old man's brain arose. Where, when and what is "The Birchley Railway".

fbb's encycloaedic but rapidly decaying leeedle Poirotesq brain cells could not dredge up a Birchley Railway.

YouTube offered a few videos, this from 1989. We first get a trackside view, then take a ride round as a passenger.
It is worth the five minutes plus to appreciate this delightful layout.

But where is it? One source suggested Biddenden in Kent ...
... which seems a long way from Wadhurst. Ashford looks nearer and has a better train service! But there it is, Birchley House - near Biddenden.
Google Streetview offers no mention of a railway thereat, just a finger post to a farm ...
... and a pair of decidedly uninviting gates, possibly to the "big house".
For the record, Google Maps seems confused. It shows "house" against some farm buildings and "farm" against the big house.
But there was no sign of the sunshine jollity shown in the 1989 video. And not one yard of miniature railway track.

Further on-line searches brought a clue.

Birchley Railway Open Day 4 August

Birchley railway is up for sale and our estate agent is trying his best to find a buyer – see our website

In consequence Sunday’s Open Day may well be the last under the present management.  Depending on whether the future owner wishes to keep the railway running is an unknown factor and all the equipment may be removed sometime soon.

Our Final Day will be supporting Action Duchenne again.  Duchenne’s disease is a form of Muscular Dystrophy which affects only young boys who rarely reach 20 years of age.

Please come and help us support this really worthwhile Charity.

There will be a barbecue and refreshments including Jennifer’s home made cakes (Eat your heart out Mary Berry).

Free parking and unlimited train rides

Admission  Adults £5;  Children £2.50;  Family 2+2 £12.50

Other interesting stands arranged by Action Duchenne themselves.

See you Sunday,


August 4th fell on a Sunday in 2013 and 2019. Is that a clue?

More tomorrow!

Matford Models 2
Of course, end-to-end layouts are fascinating, but often with less happening. One example at the Exeter show was a substantial model in "P4".
Protofour or P4 is a set of standards for model railways allowing construction of models to a scale of 4 mm to 1 foot (1:76.2), the predominant scale of model railways of the British prototype. 

The P4 standards specify a scale model track gauge of 18.83 mm for standard gauge railways. The standards were published in Model Railway News by the Model Railway Study Group in August 1966.

Just as in the prototype railway, on a model the wheel-rail interface is the fundamental aspect of reliable operation. So as well as a track gauge, P4 also specifies the wheel profile and track parameters to use, which are largely a scaled-down version of real-life standards with some allowances for practical manufacturing tolerances.

The accurate track gauge and scale sleeper spacing does look much better than conventional OO gauge (16.5mm). Contrast and compare P4 ...
... with OO.
As well as striving for accuracy, you would need to fit P4 wheel sets to all rolling stock and locos. 

The layout has used a neat touch to save too much trackwork, namely a double track line that has been "singled", the reduction to one track including a bridge ...
... and a station.
The one platform halt is surprisingly busy!

Models of real locations are rare, largely because real locations are large. This is an N gauge (9mm track) representation of a location not too far from the Marford exhibition centre.
Below is the full-sized view back from near the top left of the above picture, showing the parked "holiday" carriages.
It is, of course, Dawlish Warren.

And fbb Nearly Forgot ...
The seagulls are already planning their invasion of the new Exeter Bus Station. Advance Party "Hissing Sid" was casing the joint last Saturday. Sadly he found no chips!

Tomorrow -  more on both topics.

Auntie Frances to the Rescue
The withdrawal of Stagecoach 9A between Seaton and Lyme Regis is a big cut, removing an hourly service ...
... but local reports suggest that Axe Valley Travel (based in Seaton) will operate a replacement service, although no timetable has yet been published. The boss, Frances Searle, has always been keen to support the local community, but, fbb suggests, her offering will not be hourly!

 Next Miniature Mystery & Modelling blog : Sat 2nd July 


  1. Axe Valley is being paid to run four or so services by Devon CC with no Sundays or morning peak.

  2. You can actually still see the Birchley (Farm) Railway track on the Google satellite view, but FBB has largely clipped it out of the satellite map snipping in his blog. It runs in a loop just to the north of the house. There is a bridge under the main drive (north-west of the house) and an engine shed and turntable (to the north-east) - both just outside FBB's clipped image.

  3. I can help you with that bus blind! My Grandfather (Drummond) owned an RF bus for a period during the 1970s, and used it to transport his locos about while doing a portable railway at local fetes. He had painted that destination blind with destinations that he drove the railway to, and would add destinations to the blind as he visited them. One destination is even Private Edward's Party (my Dad). It was sold when they moved out of Birchley, quite how it ended up in Seaton is beyond me!

    1. Shall also add that the railway is still intact and maintained by the new owners, just a very private affair nowadays