The original broad gauge line to Kingswear was built by the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway to serve the deep water natural harbour at the lower section of the River Dart.  The railway opened as a broad gauge branch line in 1864, but this permanently installed layout has been done in P4 scale, depicting the well known South Devon terminus station as it looked and ran in the 1940s. It’s been done as a diorama presentation, very much like a museum exhibit, and it features a full height 3D backscene for maximum impact and distance illusion.

All stations and their approaches have a distinctive character, and this well known and often photographed location benefitted from far better than average reference.  Inevitably, little gems of information come to light during the sifting of recorded local history, so passages and pictures that help describe the character of the surroundings bring an added interest and authenticity to the modelling work.

It is still an ongoing project, and this page shows a few captioned pictures, but a new website to catch up with more details and progress on ‘Kingswear for Dartmouth’ can be found

We’ll expand it as the job progresses, but there’s already some interesting modelling to see, some ‘process’ pictures and some of the research is also included.

A number of relief houses appear looking South East over the quay, depicting the sought after ‘Ridley Hill’ area of Kingswear. These really contrast with the humble working dwellings and quayside businesses, which overlook the station further to the left of this point. They have been produced to a smaller relative scale, and are just rested in place for now because they still need to be wired up for lighting before being permanently installed. All share a westerly view, over to the opposite bank, and the most southerly houses of Dartmouth are just becoming visible to the right. The entrance to Warfleet Cove is portrayed  in the wooded riverbank before the promontory at One Gun Point with Sugary Cove just out of sight behind, and then further still, the backscene shows a view out over the English Channel with Jersey & Cherbourg beyond the horizon.

Generate a Panorama, with a south east view at 160 degree sweep.

A postcard view, seen from the tidal inlet of Waterhead Creek. It’s this view that we have reproduced in 3D, providing a landscape context for the layout that is in the process of being restored and finished as a permanent exhibit. It’s the late 40s, and the small village of Kingswear is spreading north from it’s headland opposite the larger settlement of Dartmouth, about a half a mile to the south of where this picture was taken. The upper half of the steep riverbank is still wooded, but many of the trees have been cleared away for houses and gardens. Small lanes have been cut, and stone retaining walls now provide step plateaus for new houses and hotels. The carriage sidings are visible near the shoreline to the right and just see how relatively small the trains appear in the landscape.

This sky panel will appear above the Hoodown riverbank and it features a breezy look, with the cloud tops dissipating, and a subtle high altitude mackerel vapour layer behind.

A small section of the village as it used to look

The new harbour tug, a stunning build from an Artitec kit, again by Brian McCulloch, of Braeside models. We are indebted to Brian for this and two other vessels which now contribute to the maritime scene at Kingswear. Paul Woodward

A corridor clerestory brake third, built from a Mallard kit, and a Rocar LMS passenger brake van. The latter was apparently intended for an eventual Bradford train. 

Wharf crane, with goods shed behind.

A small section of the east side of the Dart valley above the retaining wall for the station cut as it was.  The gardens and allotments are nearly all built over now, with posh holiday homes reaching almost to the tree line.

The stone retaining walls and narrow roadways allow access between the buildings, (some are merely footpaths), and the cleared gardens are simply represented as a patchwork quilt running down the steep sides of the creek. The small four windowed building at the centre of this thumb is the school, and it’s right hand gable was extended over the wooden brackets that hold the bell top pivot.

Early period OS map

One of Gordon Gravetts fantastic electric cranes, which ran for most of the length of the wharf. When timber loads came in from Scandinavia they unhooked the double acting coal buckets and just used a simple sling to lift the timber onto the quayside in neat piles.

First photo of the sidings and completed background, with a single LED strip on just behind the pelmet. Great even warm daylight and no pesky shadows.

Beyond Kingswear, the trackbed follows the river beneath the steep slope of Hoodown, rising as the eastern bank of the Dart valley.  Even though the trackbed hugs the lower shoreline, it has still required the re-engineering and occasional surface levelling of the natural contours, so we can show the local features and character, as well as some of the engineering work enabling a workable single track route as far as Greenway, where the line is cut into the riverbank, and enters a tunnel.  Due to space limitations, there has been some foreshortening and some sharper curves introduced to get the job done.

The water surface has now been done by Neil, and the scenic break is basically ready. There’s a run of fencing still to do, and maybe some children playing near the Bath house.


The drab looking Riverside wharf buildings were built from local grey limestone, but they have now all been rendered over and painted in bright colours, then converted into posh apartments with magnolia interiors and fitted designer kitchens. The Kingswear Wesleyan Methodist Chapel seen behind was closed in the seventies and also converted into dwellings, (luckily escaping the rendering fashion). At the modelled period, the Pastor came from Dartmouth and at least two services were held, plus Sunday school. There was an evening meeting for children during the week which sometimes featured a magic lantern show about missionary work in Africa, as the Wills family were running a hospital in Africa for leprosy. Other prominent chapel members were Mr Powlesland, the dairyman, who was a lay reader, John Roberts, Mr Eckhart of Jubilee terrace and the Tucker family of Kircum Park. The headmistress of Kingswear School, Miss Hayward was also a member and very involved. Reg Little.


Greenway House was set into landscaped gardens overlooking the River Dart, built between 1780 and 90 to replace a nearby Tudor structure, then remodelled and extended in the early 19th century.

View looking North East over the wharf


A view of houses built on the lower slopes of Ridley Hill, looking out over the English Channel in the direction of Jersey and Guernsey.


The original Signal Box gradient card from ALLER JUNCTION to KINGSWEAR for DARTMOUTH, also showing the Brixham Branch.


Village backscene and wharf foreground. Cranes and details in the foreground will follow soon.


This is the line’s only scenic break, and we decided to capture the ‘Greenway’ riverbank to disguise the entrance to the storage sidings and traverser. The house and skyline are done in forced perspective to imply distance as usual.


We have a few very elderly early P4 loco conversions, which seem to be well up for the job for now, pending the eventual provision of some new motive power more appropriate to our location and period. The trains really make the views come alive, and some areas are quite close to being finished now.

Greenway House and skyline with farm buildings further on to the north west,  Hare Wood out of sight to left, and Brim Hill at skyline to right.  Bear the elevation in mind, as this simulates the view from just south of Dittisham, looking over Lords Wood from the top of Fire Beacon hill on the opposite bank. The view of Greenway from the river and railway would be entirely different.