by the MAP Model Railway Group


The model is a 2mm Finescale replica of the GWR railway at the peak of traffic revenues in 1944; showing 3 miles of track and sidings from Kingswear Station to Britannia Halt.

The 6 main base boards, roughly 6' x 2' are constructed with 'L' shaped timber for strength and lightness. The framing is mostly open top, with the landscape and track base of ply. For transportation the boards are stored in 2 specially constructed crates that also double as the main support for the layout.

Trackwork is from 2mm Scale Association components, using PCB timbers and bullhead rail with etched chairplates. Pointwork is constructed using the same method.

Scenery is primarily constructed to contours formed from ply formers with a ply covering for strength, bonded with cloth and covered with Woodlands Scenics products. Trees are built up from electric cable, twisted to shape. All buildings are scratch built using either ply or plastic sheet accurately measured to ensure authenticity. Windows are from either printed sheets or etched brass.

Most of the rolling stock is either Graham Farish or Peco, all stock requiring some work to convert them to 2mm Scale. The locomotives use Neil Ballantine wheels, all other stock wheels are simply replaced with those from the 2mm Scale Association. Kit built wagons are under construction as well as scratch built locomotives. DG couplings are used on most vehicles.

Multi pin plugs and sockets are used to link each board to the three operating positions. Most of the pointwork uses Tortoise point machines, though the carriage sidings still use mechanical methods.


Concept & design

The choice was made to replicate in every detail an authentic Great Western Railway Terminus at Kingswear in South Devon, close to home.

A grant for students to research railways was awarded to one of the group's members by the Historical Model Railway Society. The research included trips to Swindon and York looking at historical archives, documents, plans and photographs of Kingswear. The eventual drawings and articles was a great asset in progressing the model.

A freelance model railway was rejected for the satisfaction of modelling an actual location. The model as completed is an historical visual record in three dimensions of how the village and estuary looked sixty years ago.

The model was initially only up to the sidings (now the centre of model), depicting the station and Forward sidings, representing a length of nearly half a mile.

Later the layout was extended to include the mainline and Britannia Halt, in reality one mile away from Kingswear. This was done to allow trains to actually leave the station and provide a discreet exit to the fiddle yard. The area around Britannia Halt is also authentically replicated to scale. Only the mainline skirting the Dart estuary is compressed, and is only one-third its actual length.

The model is now 33 feet (10 metres) long.

Exhibitions are virtually the only time to set the layout up in full. To achieve this at home the model extends from the kitchen through the dining room and conservatory, with the fiddle yard on the garden terrace!


Working in 2mm Finescale

The preliminary drawings and setting-out showed that it was impossible to model the station in OO Gauge, with a total length of 16 feet. It was decided that a scale half the size of OO gauge was essential.

Kingswear Station

We first chose N gauge at a scale of 1:148, for which proprietary track and turnouts were available. With no previous experience, British Rail archive plans were used to set out an accurate replica of the track layout. Some accuracy had to be sacrificed because the turnouts available were standardised, limiting smooth flowing trackwork, but in time the layout attained reasonable running abilities.

At a visit to an exhibition in Truro, a member of the 2mm Scale Association was allowing people to construct lengths of 2mm Finescale track. This demonstration established our desire for a true replica with track built to the scale of 1:152.4, reproducing the correct alignment of turnouts by hand construction.

To make the change, panels were constructed to fabricate the new track for insertion into the existing scenic boards. This seemingly straightforward operation presented unforeseen problems, requiring extensive time and reconstruction.

Layout plan

Our trackwork uses PCB sleepers and bullhead rail with a small chairplates between them. All rails are aligned using roller and nose setting gauges.

The change to Finescale required replacement wheels in all locomotives, coaches and wagons that were originally N gauge. Small misalignments can easily cause derailments, and the accuracy of the track and new locomotives requires long periods of running and adjustment when partially set up in a dining room. An exhibition is the only time that the complete model is operated and tested.

It is now well understood why people advocate beginners should start with something small!


Britannia Halt & World War II: The history

In 1944 American troops embarked near Britannia Halt for the D Day landings at Utah beach. The line features this historic event whilst at Kingswear the railway operates to its limit.

Embarking for the first large scale landing at Slapton on 27th to 31st March 1943, from concrete landing ramp by the Higher Ferry. Sherman tanks are coming aboard an LTC (landing tank craft), waterproofed for the sea crossing.

The war had changed in the allies' favour in late 1943; there were no more air raids along the River Dart by the fighter-bombers, air space was controlled by the allied air force.

In November 1943 an advanced party of American Servicemen from Scotland arrived on the windswept Kingswear platform. The vacated Royal Naval College, Dartmouth became the US Naval Amphibious base, and Staff Headquarters of the LCI, LST and LCT flotillas (landing craft for Infantry and Tanks).

In 1944 the railway was at its busiest in its history as preparations were made for the logistical requirements of loading nearly 500 ships and craft in the Dart Estuary. The major requirements were to construct several landing hard's, which were for the larger craft the 5000 ton LST were sited on the Dartmouth side of the river.

Troops have embarked in the nearest of the Landing Craft Vehicle and Personal from "C" position and others are moving from "D" position on the hard assisted by US Naval personal on both amphibious vehicles. Operation Duck preparations.

The Americans constructed the Hards for loading by using various materials, with jetties of timber and simple scaffolding to facilitate the loading operations.

The tanks and troops would have negotiated the road leading to the Higher Ferry to be loaded as part of the amphibious force of 485 craft that sailed out of the River Dart on 3 June 1944 for Utah Beach, Normandy, France.

Churchill said, "The destinies of two great empires seem to be tied up in some god dammed thing called LSTs."

On the LCTs the tank crews language would have been strong, two days wallowing in the stormy seas, without adequate food. Rampant sickness and one shared toilet was the preparation for the landing on 6 June.


Britannia Halt & World War II: The model

Julian Seal has accurately modelled from photographs the scenario of the Americans loading the landing craft. This included scratch-building the scene and changing miniature figures into the US soldiers, and thereby showing how it was in this quiet corner of Devon in 1944.

Loading a landing craft at Brittania Halt

Tanks wait at the crossing

Brittania Halt from the air, June 1944



Currently all our locomotives are Graham Farish or body kits with Graham Farish chassis. The Farish locomotives have been converted to 2mm Finescale; this involves replacing the wheels with Finescale ones produced by Neil Ballentine. These are retained with a new keeper plate and improved pickups from phosphor bronze wire. The locomotive/tender drawbar is also shortened and the wire pickups hidden.


Class Wheels Designer Built Use Details
King 4-6-0 Collett 1927 Express Passenger Converted Graham Farish
Castle 4-6-0 Collett 1923 Express Passenger Converted Graham Farish
Hall 4-6-0 Collett 1928 Mixed Traffic Converted Graham Farish
Saint 4-6-0 Churchward 1911 Express Passenger PD Marsh Body kit on converted Graham Farish chassis
43xx 2-6-0 Churchward 1911 Mixed Traffic PD Marsh Body kit on converted Graham Farish chassis
61xx 2-6-2T Collett 1929 Mixed Traffic Converted Graham Farish
8750 0-6-0T Collett 1929 Light Mixed Traffic Converted Graham Farish
57xx 0-6-0T Churchward 1929 Light Mixed Traffic Converted Graham Farish


There are plans for several new locomotives and considerable improvements to those already running. Currently on the workbench is a model of a "Collett Goods" or 2251 Class. This uses the Langley Body kit as a starting point, but is undergoing considerable improvement to produce a scale model. The locomotive will run on a split frame chassis from the Dean Models range and wheels plus other components from the 2mm Scale Association.

As a first step to improving the running of our converted locomotives it is planned to replace all tender chassis with split frames and 2mm Scale Association wheels. It is hoped that this small step will improve the running quality considerably.


Making it happen

A few scenes from the construction of Kingswear. Behind the exhibition spotlights and glossy magazine pages, railway modelling is about real people and a lot of hard work!

Soldering track

Baseboards taking shape, with turntable in evidence

Working outside on a sunny day


At the the time of writing, we have taken Kingswear to some 17 exhibitions and events around the country. Here's a few photos from some of them.

Alex caught shunting in the goods yard while he wasn't looking! This photo was taken at an outing at Thornbury – the layout is now 7" higher! Oh, and that's Paul popping his head over the backscene.

Lee with the Fiddle Yard, taking his eyes off the stock while posing for the photographer!

Paul and Alex caught just after our Vans Battery had been recharged due to going flat while not in use! Some day we'll have our revenge on the photographer!

Fact sheet

The layout is available for exhibitions throughout the United Kingdom. However we have limited its appearances to around five per year. If you're interested contact us now!


Layout Name: Kingswear 1930s–40s
Group Name: M.A.P. Model Railway Group
Brief Description: Authentic replica of Kingswear Terminus and Britannia Halt on the River Dart, Devon, England
Scale: 2mm Finescale
Space Required: Minimum 11 metres x 3 metres (see plan)
Viewing: From front of model only
Support: Free standing, no support required
Operators: 4-5 attending
Electric Sockets: 1 13A supply required
Tables / Chairs: One table and 2 chairs if available
Barriers: To be provided by Exhibition Organisers
Insurance Value: Model: £8000 Rolling Stock: £1000 – No single item (For both transit and exhibition)
Transport Costs: 1 hired transit van & fuel (layout) 1 car & fuel (model parts and operators)
Accommodation: Required over 30 miles.
Tourist board standards, Non Smoking
Contact: Mervyn Seal (Secretary)
Higher Lincombe Road
United Kingdom
Telephone: (+44) 01803 214566
e-mail address:
M.A.P. Represents founding members: Mervyn Seal, Alex Seal and Paul Edwardes. Further modellers and operators in group: Lee Roper, Richard Salter and Julian Seal