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Tanks for the memory as junior modellers show wartime railway

JUNIOR railway modellers travelled back to wartime to delight visitors to a Bognor Regis exhibition.


Bognor Regis Model Railway Club’s section for young people used its latest annual show to depict a nearby scene from the Second World War.


Their layout of Fordham was based on Ford railway station in the build-up to D-Day in 1944.


The now rural station was a key staging post for military equipment and troops based at the Royal Naval Air Station.


Climping beach was also used for training before the invasion of Europe.


One of the club’s young members present on the exhibition’s first day last Saturday was Peter Nicholson, 14.


He said: “Some people today have related to this display. One man said he remembered the area at this time.


“He remembered the tanks going through Ford and the planes flying over. It’s good that people can remember scenes like this and it shows the accuracy of our layout.


“Creating a layout like this gives you the pleasure of completing something.”


The 4ft X 2ft section on show at Felpham Community College is one of four which make up the complete layout and showed trains using the tracks between the railway station and the airfield.


Fellow junior modeller Johan Keitser-Petch, 15, said: “We wanted to make this layout because it’s local, it’s a time many of us are interested in and there are also a lot of models available.


“It’s interesting to carry out the research when you are making a layout like this. You imagine what it’s going to be like and you transfer that from your head or a computer on to the layout.


“The war is also a good time to depict because there were a lot of unusual train formations and different liveries.”


A third young modeller, Daniel Nash, 15, said: “I find history interesting and you learn a lot from building a layout like this.”


Well over 1,000 visitors went along to the exhibition weekend to view the 15 layouts in a range of scales and gauges and some 20 trade stands.


Model railway club chairman Adrian Taylor said: “We seemed to have half of Bognor Regis here on Saturday morning. People were queuing up to get in and we opened the doors 20 minutes early.


“The mayors of Chichester and Bognor Regis came along and it was brilliant to see the Bognor Regis mayor in his railway waistcoat. It showed it had a real interest in what he was attending.


“I’m really pleased with the exhibition. This is the second year for our exhibition manager, Mark Gallant, and he has done a brilliant job.


“There’s a really good mixture of layouts and trade stands and plenty to interest visitors of all ages.


“I’m really proud of our members. It’s hard work putting on this event but they have done very well.


“It’s a nice community event and we’re grateful to the community college for hosting us. This is the perfect venue for us and people have come out to support us again.”


A donation from the exhibition was likely to be given to St Wilfrid’s Hospice, which had its first stand at the event, said Mr Taylor.


Another first time visitor to the exhibition was Mike Le Marie, of the Farnham and District Club, with his N gauge depiction of Garsdale Head high in the Pennines.


He said: “I enjoy the challenge of making the layouts and talking about them to the public. It’s about showcasing the hobby.


“It’s all about making the scene as realistic as possible.”


At the other end of the country, a 00 fine gauge scale fictitious 16ft x 2ft layout showed a section of track from the Meon Valley Line to Southwick House, just north of Portsmouth, and the headquarters for planning D-Day.


It was put on show by Fareham Model Railway Club’s Geoff Elliott for the second time at the exhibition.


“I came here in 2010 with it,” he said. “But it’s slightly different. I buy something new for every exhibition I attend.


“It was the yellow flowers for the last exhibition and the pair of cleaners on the platform the time before.


“It’s good to go out a few times a year with it and nice to get the comments from people.”

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