Rowfant Grange (under new ownership)
Image created using CombineZM focus stack software
NOTE: Layout now sold
Note: Links in bold refer to photographs of the model. Selected photographs are also accessible by clicking on the small images above, and at the start of each section.
4mm to 1 ft scale on 16.5mm gauge code 75 bullhead track with British type sleeper spacing (SMP track is true 00 track as opposed to most 00 which actually uses H0 track; see also 00 Finescale); overall dimensions 12 x 2 ft, inclusive of cassette storage yards and front information display; freestanding; further details available to exhibition managers, upon request (see contact details and e-layouts Directory).
Rowfant Map (modern) – from streetmap.co.uk
To model a passing station on a single track branch of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR), so as to provide a “stage” on which to operate a range of my stock (prototypes depicted built between the late 1840s and early 1900s; photo). The length of the loop had to be sufficient for a loco plus a rake of five 4-wheeled carriages or two bogie carriages to pass, while ensuring the total layout size, inclusive of storage yards, was no more than 12ft long.
In summary, Rowfant Grange is an approximation to Rowfant as it might have looked if it had become a passing station by the mid-1870s, rather than in 1901 (see Timeline). More detailed notes follow; in some cases considerably more detailed as they provide an example of the complications of trying to at least approximate an actual prototype! Although the model is built, the protypical features of the period continue be investigated (Appendices).
The valuable assistance of numerous members of the Brighton Circle, and others, is acknowledged.
Rowfant was originally the only station on the Three Bridges to East Grinstead Railway (opened 1855); Grange Road (for Crawley Down and Turners Hill) was added later (1860); and the extension to Tunbridge Wells [West] opened in 1866. Rowfant Station (in the Parish of Worth) was built across the grounds of Rowfant House (the house can be seen on the back scene to the left of the station building). The House was owned by an American born fur trader, and vice-chairman of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, Sir Curtis Miranda Lampson. A condition in the building of the line was that he be provided a station and the right to stop trains on request! The only other nearby residence was The Hall (believed to be what is now Worth Hall), owned by a Director of the LB&SCR (John Nix), who no doubt supported the building! The 1869 passenger timetable shows that Rowfant soon acquired a regular service. One of the more bizarre features of Rowfant was that Sir Curtis had apparently asked that a shelter be provided for his coachman. A shelter was provided, but it took the form of the intended entrance porch, from which they simply omitted a door into the building (one had been shown on the original plan)! Traffic was limited to five weekday trains each way in 1869, although that doubled by the time motor trains were instigated in 1906. By that time a morning pick-up goods regularly called and another local goods was optionally timetabled between Rowfant and Three Bridges only, presumably to serve the brickworks (said to have opened 1882, although brick making activity was recorded in 1875). The loop would have increased the running capacity of the line, and may have been of use for diverted trains (the running capacity of the main line was also being increased by track quadrupling to the north of Three Bridges), as well as the only regular passing trains (an up early passenger and the down pick-up goods). One of the few recorded diversions was of Dr Richard Beeching’s regular train home to East Grinstead one evening in 1964, but none the less he listed the line for closure, and it closed in 1967, just in time for it to miss out on a potential influx of new commuters moving into the then greatly expanded village of Crawley Down! Of the four lines that originally converged on his home town, he left only that which took him direct to London! However, the Three Bridges to East Grinstead track bed is largely retained as a transport route, as it forms the greater part of the footpath and cycle route known as Worth Way. Most of the East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells section is also retained as a footpath (Forest Way), and the section from Groombridge to Tunbridge Wells West is the preserved Spa Valley Railway.
For a detailed chronology of Rowfant Station development up to grouping see Appendix I.
For a more extensive account of the history of Rowfant Station and the branch see the Rowfant page in the Disused Stations web site. There is a also a Rowfant page in the Southern e-Group’s web site (but note that the “utilitarian platform shelter on the south platform” appears to refer to the structure added in 1901 rather than anything built in WW2).
Advert - This advert for Heasman Brothers (East Grinstead Observer and East Sussex Courier, Nov. 18th, 1905) suggests an outgoing trade in flour, as well as an incoming trade in un-milled corn and coal. However, it should be noted that Rowfant Mills were at Old Rowfant (TQ315377), about a mile north-west of Rowfant Station, and they may therefore have carted corn direct to Three Bridges Station. Their coal depots were also elsewhere, namely at Grange Road and East Grinstead (Brighton Circular 28: 170).
Rowfant Grange (photo) is at a scale of 4mm/ft but uses 00 track (SMP track and points built on copper-clad strip), ballasted with N-gauge ballast to represent the deep layer of beach shingle that would have completely covered the sleepers in Victorian times. It comprises four baseboards (photo of boards being constructed), totalling 12 ft long, by 1.5 ft deep, inclusive of the two cassette storage yards. The station building was based on original plans of the actual station; the station master’s house (photo) was modelled from modern photographs and re-oriented to face the road rather than the track, adjacent the skewed level crossing; the signal box (photo from hidden side) is based on photographs of Rowfant and dimensions were estimated from a similar Saxby & Farmer type 5 box at Isfield (for which there is a card kit produced by Alphagraphix); the goods shed (photo) is also based on the preserved goods lock-up at Isfield (Lavender Line), and although that was not built until 1898 there was a goods shed of unknown design on the single platform at Rowfant from an earlier date (plan 2299); the crane (photo; modified Wills kit) represents Rowfant’s 5 ton yard crane (plan 2299) which was moved to Ockley when the passing loop was added; the platform shelter was based on an early example at West Grinstead (photo); the brick kiln is based on a diagram of a Scotch kiln in Brickmaking in Sussex (photo; and see links). The track plan is that of Rowfant after 1901 but with the omission of one goods siding, and with considerable shortening, particularly of the brickworks siding (which runs in front of the “East Grinstead” cassette storage yard). The double span road-over bridge (photo) is based on the combined stone and brick bridges along Worth Way and elsewhere in the Weald, e.g. Fittleworth and Kingscote; the bridges on Worth Way have been largely re-built with brick (e.g. photo). Rowfant was built in a heavily wooded area of the High Weald (alt. 350 ft), and the line crosses the watershed of the Mole and Medway Rivers. However, the countryside depicted in Rowfant Grange is more typical of the open farmland area to the west, towards Worth, from which there are commanding views to the north, towards the distant Downs.
The layout of the skewed level crossing deserves explanation. The initial plans for the building of the loop at Rowfant placed the point half over the public roadway (crossing V just in the roadway), although the final built arrangement placed the point well clear of the crossing. In Rowfant Grange the point is placed with the crossing V just clear of the roadway. At Rowfant the Station Master’s House was placed between the two crossing gates on the south side of the line. This unusual feature was not replicated in Rowfant Grange as it would have made the crossing (and perhaps the entire model) longer and there was no information on the appearance of the south face of the house. Instead, the house was turned to face the road so that only known elevations had to be modelled. The 1920 signals diagram (Brighton Circular 28: 9) indicates that the road gates each had a travel of approximately 135o, while the other two gates had a more conventional 90o travel, so as to close across the tracks (diagram photo; based on original © D. Searle). The gates are styled on photographs of crossings from the 1880s, when red “targets” do not appear to have been used.
The back scene (e.g. left section) is composed entirely of digital photographs taken along Worth Way, in the grounds of Rowfant House, or at the road entrance to the former brickworks, although for the sake of continuity some are used in mirror image and they are not always in correct geographic order! The photographs also required a heavy degree of editing to remove all post-1900 structures, notably pylons, jet trails and electricity lines (unedited example). However, no attempt was made to edit the agricultural practices and replace “improved grassland” with flower rich meadows! The white building seen at the extreme left is the original crossing keeper’s cottage at Compasses Crossing, about half a mile west of Rowfant Station. The line of trees across the field behind the brickworks is the old course of the actual railway, but in reality the photograph was taken to the west (not east) of Rowfant. A c.1880s slotted post signal has somehow crept into the back scene version of that view!
Figures are mainly from the Aidan Campbell Miniatures range, from which some mixed bags of Victorian figures were purchased, leading to unusual choices! These included a man down on bended knee, for which I could only think of one purpose (photo) and several undesirable looking individuals, probably bound for Lingfield races after a liquid lunch in the nearby Compasses Public House (photo). Most specialist figures were from Dart Castings, e.g. the entomologist (photo) and boy fishing (photo). The station staff have been posed in the manner of a c.1890 photograph of Rowfant (photo; original in Disused Stations web site and see Brighton Circular 29: 200); both they and their photographer (photo; his bag reads “Bedford” and “Lewes”!) are from Langley Miniature Models.
Scenic materials were mostly from Set Scenes, East Grinstead (now Realistic Modelling Services).
Panoramic scenes were stitched using software called Panorama Factory (v.1.6 © John Strait; see web site).
The front of the model is protected by a narrow border of display boards (photo). Storage uses the cassette system.
The running sequence used for Rowfant Grange is loosely based on timetables from 1910-12 except that extensive use is made of the passing loop. In addition to moving through a “day”, the sequence moves through the decades, reflecting the development of LB&SCR stock from the 1840s to the motor train, introduced in 1906. The collection reflects personal interest as well as stock appropriate to the Three Bridges – East Grinstead branch.
Scratch Built Locomotives
These are described in another web page: Some LB&SCR Scratch Builds for “00”
Kit Built Locomotives
Ready to Run Locomotives
Signalling underwent major changes during the Victorian era and these had to be considered before Rowfant Grange could be provided with signals and operated in a manner that shows a reasonable resemblance to prototype practice. It was decided that the signals should be of the two-position slotted post type appropriate to the mid-1870s to very early 1900s period.
The signalling is based partly on Rowfant (1878 and 1900) and partly on the almost identical plan of Forest Row (1897). The original signals diagrams and inspection reports were consulted at the National Archives (see Appendices for details).
The signals shown in most of the photographs were based on etched parts from Model Signal Engineering but have now being replaced by specifically LB&SCR styled signals largely based on etched parts from E.B. Models. Most signals (diagram) powered by Fulgurex point motors. Signals are electrically interlocked with the point motors (points 2-4).
It is important to note the following:
Four semaphore signals are modelled, three of which are powered (photo).
Signal A, the Up Home (photo) is extra to the prototype but useful to the model (powered by a Fulgurex motor). It shows that the loop should be protected while the down train enters (see presumed operating rule below). The Rowfant Up Home was a 45ft signal and that same height is used here so that it can be seen over the bridge. The modelled signal also includes a “ground” signal part way up the post to allow shunting into the down line (under board linkage made but not yet motorized).
Signal C is the Up Starter; note that some photos show an earlier temporary model signal placed closer to the signal box. The ground signal allowing up shunting on the down line is not yet motorized, although an under board crank is installed ready to accept a Fulgurex motor.
Signal Y is a ring-arm signal modelled on a proposed signal at Forest Row labelled on the diagram as “Goods Down Starter”. It is not motorised and is not required for the present operating sequence of the model. It could allow Down goods working through the Up line to proceed past the bridge to the hidden Down Advanced Starter.
Interlocking was easily provided using switches and relays and the basic layout is shown in this wiring diagram. Each signal switch is two way; one way provides +ve to the point switch (via a second pole of another signal switch if the point is locked by more than one signal); the other way may activate a relay coil and so the signal. Thus when a signal is cleared the appropriate points have no power (they are locked) regardless of point switch (lever) setting. The signal is wired via a DT relay; one relay coil wire goes via a switch on the motor of the locked point (or points if multiply dependent). This ensures that if the correct track is not set the relay remains in its default setting and the signal stays set at danger. This wiring system ensures that the operator must follow a proper sequence: set point - clear signal - reset signal - reset point.
Detailed Notes on Protoype Signals and Working
1. First consideration was type of signal, i.e. three position or two position slotted post, and where to place them; the development of block working, interlocked signal frames, and two-position signals placed at the stop positions, represents a watershed in the development of railways which cannot be straddled by a “period” model.
2. Rowfant had an unusual track layout in terms of its yard orientation
3. Rowfant lacked an over-run siding or trap at the up or west (Three Bridges) end of the loop (as did Forest Row).
Worth Way is a well maintained cycle and walking route between Three Bridges and East Grinstead, which largely follows the 7 mile former railway line. The model uses a back scene composed entirely of photographs (© Ian M. White, 2005) taken from, or close to, Worth Way. The following photographs were taken during walks along various section of the route in 2005-6 and are arranged from Three Bridges to East Grinstead.
A question asked at the first exhibition was “How do you start modelling a railway when everything has to be kit or scratch built”?
The most common question at Pratts Bottom (Orpington) was “how were the back scenes printed”?
· Brick making, Bellingdon, Bucks – The brick kiln in the model was based on a drawing in Brickmaking in Sussex, but that gave no detail of the style of temporary roofing used; that was taken from a photograph on this web site, showing a Scotch kiln from the inside. The roof appears to comprise planks of wood supported at the apex by a scaffold pole (a section of rail was used for the model).
· Grange Road Station
· Gullege, area notes
· Imberhorne Farm had a private siding
· Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867 gives an account of the Parish of Worth (which includes Rowfant).
· Rowfant House parts of which date from the 14th century.
· Rowfant House is now a commercial concern.
· Rowfant Mill, a water powered corn mill (TQ315377).
· Rowfant Station (includes recent photograph of platform aspect)
· Southern E-Group, describe and illustrate Rowfant Station in its later years; other items in same site:
· Southern Railway Net photo of two trains passing at Rowfant in 1961; also shows oil installation; one is hauled by ex LB&SCR C2x
· Standen – A National Trust property at which this brick (photo) was found embedded in the drive; Standen was built soon after Rowfant Brickworks were opened and is close to Imberhorne Siding; if Rowfant bricks were used in its construction they could have been transported by train as far as Imberhorne.
· Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society summarise the history of the route.
· Three Bridges Station
· Worth Way Route Guide produced by West Sussex County Council
· Yew Lodge at Felcourt is an example of a house decorated with Rowfant Bricks. They are described as being purple/brown flecked.
Links tested and updated 13 April 2007
Branch Lines to East Grinstead
K. Smith & V. Mitchell. Middleton Press, 1984. pp. . (ISBN 0 906520 07 X). [Ottley 18418].
120 photographs. Covers Oxted, Hurst Green, Lingfield, Dormans, Three Bridges, Rowfant, Grange Road, Lewes, Barcombe, Newick & Chailey, Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, West Hoathly, Kingscote, Tunbridge Wells West, High Rocks Halt, Groombridge, Withyham, Hartfield, Forest Row and East Grinstead.
Brickmaking in Sussex; A History and Gazetteer
M. Beswick. Middleton Press, 1993. pp. 242. (ISBN 1 873 793 197)
November 2007; Vol 58: 754-759 – Rowfant Grange; The ‘Brighton’ in Victorian and Edwardian days
The Brighton Circular
Journal of the Brighton Circle
Vol 7: 50 – Rowfant map
Vol 7: 52 – Rowfant brickworks
Vol 19: 62 – goods lock-up drawings used as basis of model shed
Vol 22: 40 – Grange Road Station running-in board (post-1900 style)
Vol 27: 33 – an account of Mrs Freeland’s train (Pullman excursion; used passing loop)
Vol 28: 1 – Rowfant Station; photo of crossing showing Station Master’s House between gates!
Vol 28: 4-7 – “Romance at Rowfant”
Vol 28: 8 – Rowfant map
Vol 28: 9 – Rowfant signal diagram
Vol 28: 10 – photo of Olive Robbins, booking clerk, Rowfant
Vol 28: 77 – Rowfant Station; comments on the photo on page 1
Vol 28: 80 – coal wagon of W.T.Bonnell, Forest Row
Vol 28: 82 – Rowfant Brickworks; opened 1882; closed 1911
Vol 28: 166 – coal merchants of Forest Row
Vol 28: 170 – coal merchants in East Grinstead and Three Bridges; mentions Heasman Bros.
Vol 29: 153 – Rowfant; photo of station from level crossing
Vol 29: 164-165 – Compasses Crossing
Vol 29: 180-181 – Rowfant; staff photos 1924
Vol 29: 200 – Rowfant; staff photo c.1880
Vol 30: 50 – Rowfant Station; query about c.1880 photo
Vol 30: 71 – Rowfant Station; answer to above query
Vol 32: 9 – tow-rope operation of Grange Rd. yard; mentions interlocking of branch 1877/8
Vol 33: 3 – Notes on building, staff and track layout history
Vol 33: 60 – Signalling Rowfant Station
Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells (Locomotion Papers No.144)
D. Gould. Oakwood Press, 1983. pp 64,  pl. (ISBN 0 85361 299 4). [Ottley 18413].
Walking the Disused Railway of Sussex
D. Bathurst. S.B. Publications, 2004. pp 132 (ISBN 1 85770 292 1).
Describes both the well maintained cycle-footways such as Worth Way and The Cuckoo Trail, as well as numerous smaller paths which allow exploration of almost every former LB&SCR route in Sussex.
Specialist sources are listed in Appendix II.
Rowfant Grange is now taking a long “holiday” so that I can concentrate on the new layout, East Grinstead Town.
18th March 2006 – North Downs Model Railway Circle, Woodmansterne
Orpington Model Railway Society, 10th – 11th March 2007
Crawley Model Railway Society, Horsham, 14th – 15th April 2007; Rowfant Grange voted best layout!
Norbury and South London Transport Club, Croydon, 10th – 11th November 2008
Astolat Model Railway Circle, Guildford, 19th January 2008; voted best visiting layout.
North Downs Model Railway Circle, Tadworth 2008, 15th March
East Grinstead Model Railway Club, 19-20th April 2008
Epsom & Ewell Model Railway Club, 26-27th April 2008
Uckfield Model Railway Club, 18-19th October 2008
Brighton Model Railway Club, 8-9th November 2008
Crawley MRS at Godstone Village Hall, Godstone Fete, Surrey, 31st August 2009
Wight Model Railway Group, Medina Leisure Centre, Newport, Isle of Wight, 7-8th November 2009
Croydon MRS, Croydon, 2nd – 3rd October 2010
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I. Chronology of events in the LB&SCR period:
Historical Directories (other selected entries):
II. Specialist Sources:
Building plans, station plans, goods working timetables and transcription of Engineering Minutes (Nov.1882-1923) [original in The National Archives, PRO 414/153-162], were consulted from copies held in private collections (not available for reproduction).
Links found by searching through The National Archives (formerly Public Records Office, PRO)
Selected items found by found by search on “Rowfant”:
Selected items found by search on “Grange Road”:
Items found by search on “Forest Row” in series MT [the other passing station]
1878 – Forest Row Station (PRO – MT 6/201/13)
1897-1898 – Forest Row Station (PRO – MT 6/829/11)
Selected items found by search on “East Grinstead Railway”, or “East Grinstead” in series MT
1866 – East Grinstead, Groombridge and TW section (PRO – MT 6/41/21)
1911 – Working Timetable – PRO RAIL 951/41
1912 – Working Timetable – PRO RAIL 951/43
1900 – Rule book PRO RAIL 1134/297
1917 – Rule book PRO RAIL 1134/298
1883 – New works (Engineering committee April 1883) (PRO RAIL 414/241) [NOT seen]
© Text, photographs and diagrams (save those linked from other web sites), Ian White, October 2006-2009