Sturminster Halt is now in its second phase after its recent rebuild.
The layout is based on Sturminster Newton in Dorset which was on the Somerset and Dorest line just north of Blandford. Today nothing is left of the station or yard but the Blandford & Webb animal feed warehouse which was rail serverd survives as a Carpet shop. There is some information on display in the park built when the cutting the railway runs through just after the station going north was filled in along with a memorial gate.
The layout follows what I've been able to establish the trackplan and layout was at the end of the 1950's early 60's which is when the layout is based. .
The layout is based on Sturminster Newton station on the Somerset and Dorset line north of Blandford in the Stour Valley. The layout is set in the final decade before the line closed in 1966. There are a number of pictures of the station available in the many books about the S&D but I’ve not been able to find many for the surrounding area. The station buildings do I hope reflect the look and feel of the station in the last years of the line.
At this time the range of motive power consists of 4F, 7F, Black 5’s and the standard BR classes 3MT, 4MT, 5MT and 9F’s. West Country’s, Pannier Tanks, Colletts and other engines are occasional visitors many of these are available as models along with an increasing range of coaches.
The S&D Line ran from Bournemouth West to Bath over the Mendips climbing to over 811 feet at Masbury in Somerset. The line was mainly doubled in the north but Templecombe to Blandford in Dorset were single and relied on Whittaker Tablets and passing loops at the principle stations. The line hosted the Pines Express from 1910 to 1962 when it was rerouted away setting the line-up for closure.
Sturminster Newton station was opened in 1863 as part of the Dorset Central Railway. The station was on a single line section and the station had two platforms which are staggered with a dip on the up side to allow passengers and staff to easily cross to the down platform. The main station buildings and 16 lever signal box were on the up platform with a small shelter on the down platform. The Yard included a cattle dock, pig pens, goods shed and offices as well as a bay for the Blandford and Webb warehouse and a passing loop.
The gates now sit over the in filled cutting north of the station. Whilst the station area is now a car park. The Grain Warehouse is now a Carpet Shop and the last recognisable landmark in the station area. The track bed going south is clearly recognisable and now a cycle path which runs all the way to Shillingstone.
Sturminster Halt – The layout
The layout is based on a 8 by 2 foot base with the scenic area around 7 feet by 18 inches. The layout is designed to sit in my study at home and is operated from the front. For shows the information boards are fitted at the front and control is undertaken from the back.
The layout is DCC operated and currently operated using the Hornby Railmaster software and eLink for the power. The laptop has a full mimic panel which controls routes for each Fiddleyard road and the main routes through the station. The Points are all controlled by Cobalt point point motors with attached accessory decoders.
The baseboard is Sundela which is braced along the length of the board but even so still has warped a little. The Track is all Peco Code 75 and soldered onto copper strips at the baseboard joins. The main station board was designed to include the whole station with the two end boards aligned to be removed when I get back to the larger space the layout was intended for.
The track is ballasted with a range of different ballasts blended together for the different covers. The majority of the buildings are scratchbuilt from card using mainly scalescenes papers. Sizing the buildings was a challenge as the only building left was the Blandford and Webb warehouse so this was used as a base and the rest based on that and other similar buildings.
The trees and hedges are a mixture of different products again blended together to create a range of blended greens. The grass areas are a mixture of Static grasses and flocks applied using a static grass applicator and puffer bottle.
The signals are from Dapol with a Train Tech controller which isolates the signals from the main track power.
The track plan shown here from the "historical Survey of the Somerset and Dorset Railway by C.W Judge and C.R Potts is not dated. The plan shows a Water Column at the end of the south band platfrom and a cattle yard behind the main station buildings. I've not found any photographic records that support this so can only assume the plan is from a much earlier date.
Also of note is that the Signal box diagram below doesnt reflect all of the sidings shown on the plan at the top,