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Saturday 23 June 2018

An Unexpected Find

This posting relates to a visit to Blue Pool in 2018. The owner of the attraction has since passed away and the site sold. It is not currently open to the public (2023). I believe the model railway is on display elsewhere near the Swanage heritage railway?

Blue Pool on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset is a privately owned tranquil landscape open to the public by admission charge. The main feature is a man made lake resulting from clay quarrying. The water takes on hues of green or blue whatever the weather condition, hence the name. The effect is due to light refracted by suspended clay particles in the water.

On the face of it there is not much else there to attract tourists. Not true because there are lovely woodland walks, a tea room, shop, a quirky display of teddy bears set in dioramas and a small museum displaying wildlife and artifacts created from the processing of clay, for which this area is renowned.

Imagine my surprise when I entered the museum to find a model railway display. It is not of the typical displays found at tourist attractions that tend to be fictitious locations full of track and trains whizzing about to entertain tourists. It is a 4mm scale model of The Pike Brothers Furzebrook clay workings and in particular the narrow gauge railways that once served the area.
I was enthralled by the attention to detail of the modeller, R. Dyson. It took him about 10 years of free time to research and construct. It resided in a spare bedroom of his home. When the time came to reclaim the bedroom for other purposes it was donated(or sold?)  to the museum.
Today it is a static corner diorama about 2m by 2m. The layout includes a section of the Swanage Branch line with siding to the works. On the branch line is an M7 locomotive pulling two coaches.
The Swanage heritage railway is well known and a visit to it is essential for enthusiasts when in the area. I have visited several times before. This visit was spent admiring the architecture of Corfe and Swanage stations for real, having recently modelled Corfe station building and goods shed from only plans and photographs. Not much attention was paid to the locomotives and rolling stock, apart from a privileged interior viewing of a Maunsell open 3rd carriage undergoing restoration.

On duty this day was a Class 33 diesel and Class 4MT tank engine, both to be found on the line in British Railway days. This aerial view of Corfe Station (with class 33) is often photographed. I assumed they were taken from a plane or drone but no, I snapped this one from the ramparts of Corfe Castle (scary height)!

Class 4MT 80104 approaching Corfe from Norden.

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