Batcombe represents an attempt by the Southern railway to create a Blackpool type resort across Poole harbour to Poole, in order to increase the Dorset traffic by providing a less genteel resort. The Southern tried this a few times, the best known being Allhallows on sea which was supposed to rival Southend. Like Allhallows the resort never developed as it should and the end result is a somewhat enigmatic place.

30566 entering Batcombe station with the local goods.

(Photo Trevor Jones/Hornby Magazine)

It’s not that the weather is bad, the Sun always shines at Batcombe but with a brassy gleam that fades paint and makes people fractious. It’s not the fault of the Southern or BR/S that the people who have set up restaurants and Cafes are the ones public health have not yet caught up with. Indeed it is said that William the conqueror forbid the including of Batcombe in the Doomsday book in case people thought the place belonged to him. I’m sure that the rumour that birds migrate round Batcombe rather than over it, or that when the tide goes out it has to be bribed to come back in are not true, but I have no proof.

So welcome to Batcombe where the tide is out, the café off putting, the Sun shining, the pub closed and above all there is nothing to do. Batcombe really is the place you always NEVER wanted to go on holiday to.

30693 crossing the estuary on approach to Batcombe

(Photo Trevor Jones/Hornby Magazine)

Technically: The layout uses modular standards from the DOGA south east area group. This allows it to be from 12 to around 30 feet long and in both straight and L shapes. The track plan for the station is based on Hayling island with net sheds from Hastings it then passes over Batcombe creek (based on Rye) before exiting the modelled scene (in the most popular setup) through the walls of Fort Batbridge ( based on the Portsmouth forts). Before curving round to the fiddle yard mounted behind the layout giving it its width of 7 feet. A minimum crew of 4 is needed for a show to operate the layout. To add to the potential there is a find it activity (for those less interested in operation) and areas which change regularly to allow patrons to see something new at each showing. The line is operated to a time table based on Swanage.

The most famous cafe on the south coast

Town square

Contact: Colin Snowdon at by phone on 02082449410 or by post at 62 Dowanhill Rd. Catford SE6 1SX