Welcome to Southwark and District Model Railway Club

We are a small club based in Southwark, South East London catering for railway modellers in Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. We have built a number of  layouts over the years including several which are available for exhibitions, these include a large model of local prototype Crystal Palace High Level Station which closed in 1954.

An excursion departs from Crystal Palace High Level.


For visitors coming to the club by car the access arrangements are currently being changed. There will be no direct access off Walworth Road into Liverpool Grove as this part of the road is being pedestrianised. Instead you will need to go along Albany Road, turn up Portland Street and then come into Liverpool Grove from the Eastern end. When you get to the end of Liverpool Grove, turn right and the churchyard access is at the end. Currently (12/11/22), there is no vehicle access to the church yard while road works are taking place, but these should be completed in a couple of weeks.


The club is now open again on a regular weekly basis from 18.00 on a Tuesday evening and we are most pleased to welcome all visitors and prospective new members, whether experienced or beginners to come and see us. But please give us a ring on 020 7732 9675 beforehand to let us know that you will be coming so that we can arrange access to the building.

Southwark and District Model Railway Club are currently located in the gallery at St Peter’s Church, Walworth, Liverpool Grove, off Walworth Road, SE17 2HH. Although not ideal, this does provide us with a secure space where we can successfully progress and develop our layout projects. There is off road parking for cars outside the church and it is close to BR and Underground rail services at the Elephant and Castle, plus numerous bus services serving the Walworth Road. Meetings normally take place on a Tuesday evening from 18.00, but we have to keep the church secure. So please give us a ring on 020 7732 9675 beforehand if you plan to visit us, so we know you are coming.

In the long term we are looking for more suitable club room premises. What we need is somewhere to work on our layouts and space to store them, plus our tools and equipment when they are not in use. We do not have any special requirements, only somewhere to make a cup of tea and the usual toilet facilities. We would like to work with other handicraft and arts related groups and are willing to consider all types of facilities, scout huts, school halls, church halls, community centres or anywhere that can offer us a fair amount of space at a reasonable rent. Ideally we could do with a sponsor. Is there a model railway philanthropist or dragon out there ?

CAN YOU HELP ? – If you can, please call 020 7732 9675.

Our current location:

Andy Arches has a new Home.

One of our old layouts  moved to a new home in Bexley. Originally built as a commissioned layout for British Rail Property Board, it had been re-acquired by the club after it was no longer needed for their refurbished arches promotion. Some work had been done to extend it, but it had not been actively worked on for some time. Declared surplus to our requirements, it was offered for sale and we were pleased to deliver the baseboards and fittings to their new owner in Bexley on 9th December 2018. It is intended that it will be incorporated into a loft layout and we look forward to seeing progress on the project.

See more about this layout in the ‘Our History’ section.

Rest in Peace Alan O’Neill.

John Alan O'Neill 1_001

Long standing club member John Alan O’Neill passed away recently and his well attended funeral took place on Monday 20th August 2018. Alan was one of the early members of the club and took part in many of our activities including developing the layout Clearwater,  featuring a railway dockyard scene, which was most appropriate as he also had a great interest in the research and modelling of cranes of all types. He also researched model railway paints, mixed his own colours and produced his own historic colour charts. He had been a long term member of the Bluebell Railway and his other interests included buses and he was a member of the RT1702 Bus Preservation Society and the Model Bus Federation. Although he had serious health problems over the last five years, he maintained his interest through magazines and DVD’s and he will be greatly missed.

We are pleased to report that Alan’s ashes were scattered on the Bluebell Railway via the firebox of S.E.C.R. 01 class  locomotive 165 on Sunday 28th October 2018. This took place after leaving Horsted Keynes, before  reaching Sharpthorne tunnel. Although it was a wet and overcast day, as the ashes were placed in the firebox and there was a long blast on the whistle, the sun came out and sent Alan on his way in a place that he would have loved to remain in.

Progress at the Palace.

Crystal Palace High Level our largest club layout was exhibited at the Erith Club show at Longfield in January 2018 and we are pleased to attach some new photographs to show what progress has been made.

CP at Longfeild 2018 Paul Hamley 2a

Sections of the new roof spans laser cut from MDF with laser cut clear plastic glazing can be seen from the terminus end. These are supported on new curtain walls, (the ones on the outside), and for the first time the central wall, which divides the two halves of the train shed. Also the houses on Farquhar Road are making progress.

CP at Longfield 2018 Paul Hamley 3b jpg

The extensive coal yard is also being developed with the coal bins, which are made mostly from hand cut scale timber, now in their first stage of weathering.

Out of sight to the left, a completely new fiddle yard area has also been constructed.

CP at Longfield 2018 Paul Hamley 2.ajpg

A closer look at the coal yard. Much of the cobbled approach visible on the right side of the picture has now been painted and and weathered and the remainder will be completed in the near future. The area surrounding the signal box is having the location of the point rodding plotted, and this feature will also be added in the near future.

CP at Longfield 2018 Paul Hamley 4.ajpg

Finally a view of the approaches from the London end of the station.

It is hoped to have much of the outstanding works completed making the layout available for regular exhibition appearances towards the end of 2019.

All pictures by Paul Hamley.

Southwark becomes ‘Southwark and District.’

At our Annual General Meeting on 22nd February 2018 we gave further consideration to the name of the club. As we are the only club representing the inner south east London boroughs of Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, apart from our friends at the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Railway Society who specialise in the study, research and modelling of narrow gauge railways, we thought that it would be more appropriate to adopt the name ‘Southwark and District Model Railway Club’ to cover our full catchment area. This change was agreed by a majority vote.

Southwark M.R.C. reaches 30.

We are pleased to advise that the club reached its 30th anniversary at the end of February 2016. Members and guests celebrated the event on Wednesday 20th April with a special birthday curry night at our favourite restaurant Karri Twist in New Cross.

30th Anniversary Cake 230th Anniversary Cake 3

Club Chairman Steve Rogers, Gary Cross and Secretary Ray Blanchard can be seen with the special birthday cake and a good night was had by all.

17 Responses to Welcome to Southwark and District Model Railway Club

  1. Brian Barrett says:

    Very impressed with your efforts, especially the Crystal Palace High Level – a stunning achievement. Being originally from Kent (although I spent my formative years in Catford) my particular interest is in the Southern Region but living in West Wales now has its disadvantages: almost everyone around here wants locos to have copper topped funnels.

    My “Retirement Plan” is to build a model of the Hawkhurst Branch, from Hawkhurst to Paddock Wood (I have a very long attic!); hence my attraction to your Club’s model. I have Brian Hart’s book, which should be of great help with regard to gradients and bridges etc. However, If any of your members would like to contact me with advice about this project then it would be much appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    • 8southwark9 says:

      Hi Brian. Thanks for your interest and favourable comments on Crystal Palace and Hawkhurst.
      My Hawkhurst layout is now over thirty years old and gradually being refurbished as I think that it still has a few years left in it.
      I think that your plan to build the whole branch is a bit ambitious, even in a long attic. Perhaps Hawkhurst and Goudhurst would be more practical, bearing in mind that Hawkhurst was a terminus and Goudhurst an attractive passing station, plus a fiddle yard at the other end would make a more viable proposition with some space to let the trains go by. Could I refer you to some other books which would provide you with more useful information: Branch Line to Hawkhurst from Middleton Press – lots of photographs and copies of Ordinance Survey Maps. Selected Southern Stations – G.A Pryer and G.J. Bowring, Oxford Press. Out of print, but readily available second hand. Hawkhurst is one of the featured stations and has a track plan with a scale you can work from. There is also Peter Harding’s excellent self published small softback book on the branch now in its third edition and still available. Each issue has a slightly different selection of pictures which are very useful.
      Using the plan in Selected Southern Stations, I calculated what a 4mm scale foot would be on the plan and made up a square foot grid on tracing paper. This was then offered up to the plan rotating it to get the best possible angle for the track plan to fit onto baseboards. This was then copied on a photocopier, or these days could be done on a flat-bed scanner. Once you have made the the copy, you can blow it up to a larger size to get more detail for plotting your track plan onto the baseboards. I am not aware of plans with a scale for the other stations, although looking at those in Brian Hart’s book they look like they may all be to the same scale, so using the one already made from the first book as a guide and matching it in size to that to the Hawkhurst one in Brian’s book, you may be able to produce those as well.
      Building the layout in a loft rather than as an exhibition layout, you should be able to juggle the position of your baseboard framing to avoid having any points over joints. I had to move two or three points slightly to avoid this happening.
      I used PECO code 100 track on the layout employing almost entirely large radius points and the three catch points as this was the only type readily available at the time. You could do it all now with code 75 or possibly EM or P4 if you were into fine-scale. The new PECO bullhead track might look good as well, but there is only a limited range of this available at present.

      I am currently progressing details on the new Badgers Oak Tunnel board and gradually working through the features on the layout, replacing some buildings and refurbishing scenery etc and will add some more blogs on our website as I go

      Hope that this is of interest and assistance.


  2. John Keane says:

    Dear Southwark Model Railway Club members
    Just to bring to your attention that Network Rail have teamed up with mediastorehouse.com to publish plans and drawings from NR’s archives. Rather like BR did with OPC Railprint back in the day. It’s early days yet for the new venture. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of, plans and drawings from the best part of 200 years of British railway history.
    However you’ll be pleased to hear that one plan drawing that is available, up to A0 size poster, is the Southern Railway station plan of Crystal Palace High Level.
    See: https://nr.printstoreonline.com/non-operational-railway/crystal-palace-high-level-station/sr-crystal-palace-hl-station-plan-station-14755236.html?prodid=73041.
    I’m still trying to persuade Hornby to model the Maunsell coaches for special traffic 8 coach Set 430, in carmine/cream livery, as running on 19 September 1954. One FK in the set, S7666S I think, was replaced on the day by one of the Maunsell buffet car conversions, diagram 2666, which were rebuilt from Diagram 255/1/5/6 RFs in 1953/54.
    Hornby of course do the RF. So if the underframe equipment did not change as part of the buffet conversion, then only a new body needs to be tooled to model the buffet. I’m at the Hornby Open Weekend on Saturday 17 August, and meeting with Simon Kohler.
    Kind regards
    John Keane
    East Dulwich

    • Looking for that plan for the dimensions of the Crystal Palace upper railway station for the Crystal Palace video reconstructions. – http://www.heathcaldwell.com/the_crystal_palace

      • 8southwark9 says:

        Hello Michael.
        Many thanks for the links to your video recreation of the Crystal Palace. They are truly impressive and very inspirational. It is a pity that we do do not have the space to build a model as a backdrop to our layout, or the time to build it. I note that you have not covered the Palace Parade side of the building yet. I presume that it is still in the pipeline. I look forward to a further update.
        Keep up the good work.

  3. 8southwark9 says:

    Hi John.

    Thanks for advising us about this new venture with the plans.
    Nice to hear from a local enthusiast. Have we seen you at an exhibition, we get to most of the local ones ?
    I think that we have a copy of that plan both on tracing paper and positive print, in fact we have two versions, the earlier one (L.C & D.R.) showing more point work ! I have tried to enlarge it to see if it is exactly the the same, but it is fairly low resolution so you cannot see any fine detail. I will forward the details to Gary our main Crystal Palace man, so he can decide if he wants to order a nice new copy on shiny paper which could perhaps be mounted up as part of our eventual set of display panels once the layout progresses to full exhibition standard. We would certainly be interested if any other items related to the branch turned up, including Lordship Lane Station, as Gary has started his own layout of that as well.
    Crystal Palace High Level is progressing towards completion, if still a little slowly. One of our members Paul has started installing the point rodding having tracked down a copy of the HL signal box diagram. Gary has started work on the large mansion ‘The Knoll’ by the tunnel mouth and I am preparing a number of items to complete the road works scene on College Road which includes the working steam roller. We are also hoping to make some leaps forward including the final weathering of the arches, retaining walls and tunnel mouth, putting down the ground cover and finishing the coal yard and allotments near to the turntable. I am trying to finish the painting of the cobble stone driveway into the coal yard, but am currently suffering from shingles, which being very uncomfortable is making a slow process even more difficult.
    The layout has one exhibition this year at Gravesend in November and potentially three next year, so we might hope to have the first parts of the station building at the turntable end assembled and painted in November show what it will eventually look like.
    We are interested in the composition of the last train which Gary would like to model and have been trying to identify the various coaches from the pictures available. He already has the two C class locos, one a South East Finecast Kit and the other a re-numbered Bachmann, complete with the headboard and wreath which was carried. This will be run towards the end of the second day on an exhibition weekend. There is virtually nothing available for the electric stock which ran on the branch, but I have started to build a couple of the SE Section cut and shut 3 Suburban sets plus a two car trailer set. These will not be super accurate, but using Mike King’s drawing as a guide, cut and shut using Ratio Midland Railway all third sides, ex Ian Kirk 2 Bil cab fronts and sides and I was intending to use pairs of Parkside utility van roofs for these 8ft wide coaches. However, having watched and spoken to Isinglass Models, I might now get these 3D printed at a reasonable cost which would include the sloping of the cab front.
    I will not be going to the Hornby open day due to my current condition, plus the fact that I think it will be very busy and I do not think that there is that much to see in the One to One area yet. I did see the Bullied 4 Sub up in Coventry about seven or eight years ago and it was in pretty poor condition, so I hope that they may have started to give it some remedial treatment to get back looking how it should be.
    I hope that you have a good chat with Simon Kohler. The one Maunsell coach I am hoping that Hornby will do is the 1st series Open Third which is the correct one to run with the Restaurant Car, but any others will of course be most welcome. I recently purchased two sets of the new Bullied coaches which are very good, but they seemed to have got the malachite livery on the Southern ones wrong. Why they could not have just used the same colour as they did on the previous Maunsell coaches I don’t know.
    Anyway, as you are so close to us perhaps you would like to pay us a visit on a club night Tuesday from 18.00 and come up for a chat. If you ring me before hand on my home number 020 7732 9675 I can arrange access, and you will be able to see Crystal Palace HL set up. Well three quarters of it, as Gary has one one board at home and I have another at the moment.
    All the best
    Ray Blanchard

  4. Steve Byers says:

    Hi there, CPHL is very impressive, well done for patience in building all the arches. I am taking an interest in the station myself, how it was allowed to be demolished I really don’t know.
    I think today it would be listed. Anyway, I notice from ordnance survey and other maps the track layout changed. Was that in 1925 with electrification?

    • gramr2mm says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thank you for you kind comments! You are quite right, the track plan was simplified in 1925 when the line was electrified. They removed a number of diamond crossings and extra pointwork when they “simplified” the tracks. Having said that, there are still over 20 points in the station throat area! We were lucky to get copies of the original South Eastern & Chatham Railway plan from the British Railways Property Board before privatisation and post electrification plans from various local studies libraries in Southwark, Lambeth Lewisham and Bromley.

      Had the station survived. It could well have been turned into a shopping centre, rather like the old station at Bath with possibly a shuttle service with DLR type trains between Nunhead and Crystal Palace. I do know for a fact that after closure, there was a campaign to turn the station into a transport museum, but this was turned down. The museum opened at Clapham instead, then later moved to York. The station was in a sorry state after closure with virtually every pane of glass smashed in the roofs and the wooden platforms absolutely rotten. BR was more concerned about how much money they could make from the sale of the site (and the line), than providing a service.

      The layout was booked to go to the Bluebell Railway exhibition at the end of June this year. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the show has been cancelled, but we hope to have it there next year!

      If you live in the Southwark area or nearby, maybe we could arrange a visit for you after this pandemic is over.

      Kind regards,


  5. Sarah brain says:

    Hello, I wondered if there is a direct email for the club that I could use to ask advice on my late father’s model train collection?
    Many thanks

  6. Catherine Gedny says:

    Hello there, it’s time for my dad to say goodbye to his model railway layout, built from scratch since 2006. Any advice please? We are in Bromley.

  7. Steve Byers says:

    Hi I was curious about the local Crystal Palace area. I was told you guys might know. Along the CP Parade, next to the TV tower there’s a road junction, College Road, can you tell me if there were traffic lights there in the early 1970’s ?
    Local councils are unable to help and CP foundation chap isn’t certain either … many thanks.

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