Badgers Mount is a compact portable exhibition layout. It is built on 3 baseboards each 4ft long by about 1ft wide. These link together to create a narrow layout depicting a small outer London terminus set in the Network SouthEast era between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s or possibly very early privatisation and featuring third rail electrification. It was featured in Model Rail’s ‘Great British Model Railways’ in 2018.
Some photos on this page are copyright Model Rail / Chris Nevard, as credited.
The line to Badgers Mount was opened by the Southern Railway as a short branch from Knockholt and running to a terminus built to serve an anticipated local housing development and the nearby Army Ordinance depot at Fort Halstead. The Southern Railway had seen the success of Metroland and wished to encourage growth in the outer suburbs of South London. Growth in the area was not as significant as expected although the area immediately around the station did develop sufficiently to justify the retention of the branch. The line was electrified in 1935 as part of the ‘North Kent Electrification’ programme and saw heavy use during the Second World War when a line feeding the Army depot was added – trains reach this by reversing in the station.
The line remains busy in the period modelled, with regular commuter trains continuing from Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Victoria via Orpington to Badgers Mount. However the short platforms restrict trains to 2 or 4 coaches. The nearby construction of the M25 has led to an increase in ‘park and ride’ commuters from Kent, taking advantage of the fact that the station is in Travelcard zone 6.
Local freight continues to serve the Army depot but freight also ‘sets back’ off the main line during the rush hour period, to be out of the way. This includes the nuclear flask trains from Dungeness power station. Hither Green depot also uses the branch for testing of locomotives following maintenance and mail trains use the station for loading and transfer.
The single track line leaves Knockholt on a rising gradient as the main line descends into a cutting and then a long tunnel. The branch crosses the main line to reach the terminus station after a little over a mile. The terminus has two tracks either side of an island platform, the station being to a similar style to that of Bromley North. A single siding remains adjacent to the station. The track is electrified with the 750v third rail system. The signal box has been abandoned with the signals now remotely controlled from elsewhere.
An attempt has been made to give the layout a Network SouthEast look using appropriate colours and details. All the track is Peco code 75 fine scale with conductor rail fitted. Buildings are a mixture of kit, pre-cast and scratchbuilt. The factory buildings and arches are from Townstreet. The signal box, substation and portacabin are Bachmann. The shops and station building are scratch built and based on real buildings in the Bromley area. The figures and other accessories are from Dart Castings and Montys Models. The signals are by Berco and Eckon. A chain link fence along the front of the layout provides a view of any shunting through the fence.
The layout will fold up for storage under my main layout and is specifically designed to fit easily in a car. The 3 boards are simply bolted together. One board houses a 5 track fiddle yard.
The layout was built as a showcase for an increasing selection of third rail multiple units which did not really fit on my main layout ‘Tedford & Bearham’. The layout can handle 4 coach EMUs as a maximum length. Stock consists of 4-CEPs, 4-VEPs, 2-EPBs, a class 465 unit and class 33, 47 and 73 locos – all of which would have been common at this time in the area.
The layout is DCC controlled using a Lenz system 100. The points are all motorised with Tortoise point motors and these are driven by a Team Digital SRC16 board, which enables advanced control of routes and also interfaces to a hardware control panel. Control software is under development for the layout and a Lenz ethernet interface is fitted which will allow control from an iPhone. Control of the signals is from the SRC16 decoder but via a custom written PIC interface which controls the signal logic.
The layout was first exhibited at the Spa Valley Railway’s Groombridge Station Grand Reopening in April 2014 and continues to appear there from time to time during special events. It has also been exhibited at Tonbridge, Oxted and Oxford. I like to let children operate the layout via a controller connected at the front. This is unusual as most exhibition layouts don’t allow this but I’ve found that most children are sensible and quickly get the hang of it with very few crashes.