Lost railway station is recreated in miniature
A lost railway station has been brought back to life in model form as part of a new rail exhibition centre.
Thanks to five years of painstaking work by a retired teacher Bourne Railway Station will feature alongside a vast array of railway memorabilia, a mini 'cinema' and two other working model layouts.
It is housed in the grounds of the former Rippingale Railway Station and could be open by April.
The project began about five years ago when former teacher Ken Wainwright began working on a 160sq ft replica of Bourne Station five years ago.
He has spent well over 1,000 hours on the heritage project, creating his 1:76 scale masterpiece from scratch.
"It was fascinating to find out how it all developed," Ken explained.
"I'm not an anorak for steam engines or pressure valves or anything like that.
"I'm just interested in heritage and preserving things, and letting people know what it was like. And I enjoy making things."
The station was closed to passengers in 1959, a year shy of its centenary, when the line became a victim of Dr Beeching's cuts.
It has long since disappeared from the town's landscape, so Ken from Bourne, first had to put in long hours of research before he could start building a replica of how the station would have looked to passengers circa 1935 to 1949.
For Bourne alone, five bulging folders' worth of research was compiled, including old photos, maps and architectural drawings.
As well as intricately laid-out station buildings and rail furniture - from turntable to signalboxes - surrounding buildings from the period have also been faithfully reproduced.
These include the Red Hall - for a period the grandest of stationmaster's houses - the fire station and Tuck Brothers Garage.
"Mostly it is identical almost to the millimetre to the scale - it is as close as I can get it," Ken said.
"It's all scratch-built so the larger buildings such as the engine shed and the Red Hall each took about 100 hours.
"The ability to concentrate and work with different materials is key. Once you have done the planning and the scale drawings you are working towards something."
But as Bourne station grew, a potential problem arose.
"The frustration was I knew I could make the models, but I just didn't know where to put them," he said.
"I had been looking for two to three years and asked Nene Valley Railway, but they didn't have room."
A chance conversation with a fellow choir member at Abbey Church uncovered not just a big enough space for a model railway, but the most fitting and evocative of homes.
Marc Maitland bought the former Rippingale Station five years ago, keen to retain the nods to its railway past which include platform, tracks, and even an old locomotive.
And in the old goods shed, a perfect home was found for Ken's work.
"It combines Marc's interest with mine," he said.
"I'm happy to make Marc stuff in lieu of rent!"
After Bourne Station was completed, Ken set to work on a replica of Rippingale Station and connected the two layouts together in their new spiritual home.
He has also included a scale model layout of the street tram system in Ken's hometown of Darwen, in Lancashire, and is now putting the finishing touches to the final exhibit - a fairground which will be displayed on a new mezzanine floor.
In among the miniature detail of the layouts scrounged everyday items can be found - a domed roof was once part of an old ice cream container, for example.
"All the time you have to be on the lookout for things to use because you can't buy them," Ken explained.
"They usually say it can take around 10 years to finish a layout like Bourne so I'm ahead of schedule.
"In a lifetime they say you can make two models of this ilk if you're lucky, but I've already done my two and I'm working on a third."
Then came the idea of opening it up to the public.
Along with the layouts, enthusiasts will be greeted by extensive displays of memorabilia and exhibition boards.
There will also be a mini cinema, showing a film about Bourne Station, an outdoor café and there are plans to convert the former goods manager's office into a rail-themed library.
Ken has researched a typical timetable from the period and will run the correct model of trains and numbers to those same times.
Supervised children, meanwhile, will be given the chance to take the controls and operate the models.
They plan to open for bookings-only for groups of up to eight and run Sunday afternoon tours from April to September.
There will be no charge, but donations will be ploughed back into the facility or given to charity.
"Once people started seeing the Bourne layout they were saying you should open it up for more people to see," Ken added.
"It will be an afternoon experience. We just wanted to do it for the fun of it."
Places must be booked in advance by calling Ken on 01778 423905.