"For me, the perfect branch line layout has to transport one into a rose-tinted parallel universe. Sheer accuracy is not important, it's more about atmosphere and taking me to another past world, maybe something akin to The Titfield Thunderbolt. That aside, I don't want something glossy and twee; I want rail tops just poking out of the weeds, peeling paint, rust decay, neglect - the look of a line that should have closed decades before, but has somehow escaped the chop."
- Mr Chris Nevard
Great Coles Wood Halt was inspired by the September'17 issue of Model Rail (#239) - the 'Plan & build the perfect branch line' feature rekindling interest in the hobby. Editor Mr Richard Foster wrote "avoid the clichés" and courtesy of Mr Nevard, Great Coles Wood Halt challenges the expectations of a conventional layout.
Confined by space, capturing the essence of a rural branch line proved difficult at the planning stage, eventually settling on a preserved railway which would offer a degree of flexibility in both track plan and purpose. Inspiration came from the Bluebell Railway which in 1960 constructed a primitive halt just south of the still British Railways (BR) owned Horsted Keynes - a rural terminus with limited facilities, Bluebell Halt offered a plausible base from which to expand.
Shortly after purchase of a baseboard and handful of accessories, Mr Nevard announced his intention to undertake model making commissions - having admired his own collection of layouts it was a timely opportunity despite the minimal size of build. Given a modest brief, Mr Nevard created Great Coles Wood Halt in his own characteristic style over a five day period (circa twenty-one hours total); the late summer look created using a mix of autumn and winter colours.
The name Great Coles Wood is entirely fictional and an amalgamation of two woodlands near East Grinstead, West Sussex. Great Wood (TQ 3718 3783) and Coles Wood (TQ 3751 3764) can be found between the former Three Bridges & Tunbridge Wells West and Lewes & East Grinstead lines.
Future plans include a separate station diorama incorporating the 2020 Scenecraft by Bachmann Bluebell buildings. Designed by Preston-based architect Mr Terence Harrison Myers, the 'Queen Anne' or 'Tudoresque' style buildings are based on the Bluebell Railway's Sheffield Park and have been purchased in Southern Railway (SR) green and cream.