Fairlight Works

Official blog of the High Weald Light Railway (1977) Co. Ltd.


cranbrook layout model-railways narrow-gauge

So here’s why Fairlight ceased to exist a couple of weeks ago.

At the end of April I went down to the new SWING show in Bognor Regis, organised by the Surrey North Downs (Sussex) group of the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association. Although only a small event, the quality of the layouts of display was great and it was well worth the trip. One in particular that I wanted to see again was Cranbrook Town in O16.5, which I wrote about last year as part of a post on inspirational layouts.

Cranbrook in my shed

Cranbrook is the end of a short branchline on the High Weald Light Railway, a 2’4¼”* gauge railway occupying roughly the same geographical space and role as the Kent & East Sussex Railway actually did. Both this layout and its predecessor, Hawkhurst, were built by Dave Holman and the concepts behind them helped with quite a lot of the design of Fairlight.

It turned out – perhaps you’re ahead of me here – that the layout and stock was up for sale by its current owner, and I made a fairly impulsive decision that it would be a great idea to buy it.

Although in logical terms it didn’t make a lot of sense – O16.5 is one of the few narrow gauge scale/gauge combinations I haven’t touched yet – I felt that the chance to get hold of such an inspirational layout, and one that was in working order and a complete package, was too good to pass up.

So that’s what I did. The clear out of Fairlight and a lot of OO9 stock and other stuff was required to make space and money, but I now have a 9′ x 2′ piece of the Kent/Sussex borders stored carefully in the shed.

Cranbrook in my shed

All this leads to a considerable change of focus in my modelling, putting aside the previous range of scales and concentrating for the time being on 7mm. The included stock is mostly in good order, albeit with some of the steam locos in the fleet needing chassis repairs or replacement. But as stock is (for me) easier and more interesting to work on this shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ll post some more about the rolling stock soon, and some ideas for what I’m going to do with the layout as a whole. It also hopefully answers the question of keeping a blog called Fairlight – after all with a bit of tweaking to the High Weald history there’s no reason why it couldn’t be the works for the whole line!