Last updated April 2023
The Mid-Sussex 18.83 Group built three exhibition layouts, Pulborough, West Chiltington, and Brighton Road. West Chiltington has been converted to a modern image layout, and Brighton Road has been dismantled. Pulborough is still available for exhibitions, and has been completely scenically refurbished and substantially rewired. The sliding traversers which have given so much trouble over the years have been reconstructed to use cassettes, as on Plumpton Green. Apart from anything else, this makes loading and unloading of stock on and off the layout at exhibitions much quicker and safer. It had its first public viewing, in its refurbished state, at the Bluebell show in 2017.
With the demise of the Mid-Sussex Group, Chris and I have been building our own new layout ‘Plumpton Green’ very closely based on Plumpton station on the Keymer Junction to Lewes line, in East Sussex. This is now complete and operational, and available for exhibition. The layout has appeared at a number of shows since 2014, and won several awards, the most recent being the Peter Denny cup for the most authentically operated layout (Expo EM 2022) and the Signalling Record Society award for the best signalled layout (Warley 2022). Although ‘complete’ there are still improvements and additions to keep us busy over the next few years. You can track progress here. Recent photos can be seen here.
All of our layouts so far have been based on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, at the beginning of the 20th century. This is a superb period for modelling the 'Brighton' - at its height, with a wide mix of loco and stock liveries.
Chris and I are now planning a new layout which will be called ‘Ouse Wharf’, and will feature our collection of small industrial tanks. It will be based on the Sussex Ouse, south of Lewes.
West Chiltington was our first real attempt (an earlier layout called Exceat was scrapped before completion). This was a very simple layout featuring a through country station, based on a prototypical track plan, and incorporating models of real 'Brighton' structures. It has now been retired, and given a new lease of life as a modern image layout - but with a vague promise that it might one day revert to something like its original form.
Pulborough is a real place in the heart of rural West Sussex, modelled as accurately as we can. The track plan is based on a 40ft:1in plan, kindly provided by British Rail. (Could or would Network Rail be so obliging?) The station is modelled true to scale, and features as many real structures as possible, based on what remains today, and a considerable number of photographs. Pulborough has been completely refurbished scenically during 2017, and had its first public showing since 2009 at the 2017 Bluebell MRS.
Brighton Road took us to inner London, to an undetermined location, to give us the opportunity to model an urban setting. The layout was started in 1997, was first exhibited in a fully operational form at Scaleforum 2010, and was retired after Scalefour North at Wakefield in 2014.
Over the years we have exhibited our layouts at many British exhibitions, and have taken Pulborough to the continent on three occasions (Argentan, Orleans and Utrecht). Pulborough has twice won both Scalefour and Scalefour North 'best layout' awards in the same year, and also won best layout trophy at expoEM in 1995. West Chiltington won best layout award at expoEM South in the same year. Plumpton Green was voted by the visiting public as third best layout at its first public showing at Uckfield (2014), and has won several more awards since.
The building of Plumpton Green can be seen here.