Bourne Station was brought back to life as a mock-up as part of a new railway exhibition center thanks to five years of painstaking work by a retired teacher.
The center will feature a wide range of railway memorabilia, a mini “cinema” and two other functional miniature rail networks.
It is located within the grounds of the old Rippingale train station and is expected to be open by next April for pre-booked groups.
The project began about five years ago when former teacher Ken Wainwright began painstaking work on a 160 square foot replica of Bourne Station five years ago.
He spent 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,” said Ken.
“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 that looked like. And I like to create things. “
The station was closed to passengers in 1959, a year before its centenary, when the line fell victim to Dr Beeching’s cuts.
He’s long since vanished from the cityscape, so Ken. de Bourne, first had to put in long hours of research before he could start building a replica of what the station would have looked like to passengers between 1935 and 1949.
For Bourne alone, five voluminous research files, including old photographs, maps and architectural drawings, have been compiled.
In addition to the intricately laid out station buildings and railway furnishings – from the hub to the signal posts – the surrounding buildings from the time have also been faithfully reproduced.
These include the Red Room – during a time the grandest of a station master’s house – the fire station and the Tuck brothers’ garage.
“Most of the time it’s almost identical to the millimeter near the scale – it’s as close as it gets,” Ken said.
“Everything is built from the ground up, so the larger buildings like the engine shed and the Red Hall each took around 100 hours.
“The ability to focus and work with different materials is key. Once you’ve done the planning and the drawings to scale, you’re working towards something.”
However, as the Bourne station grew, a potential problem arose.
“The frustration was that 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 or three years and asked Nene Valley Railway, but they had no room.”
A chance conversation with another member of the Abbey Church choir revealed not only a space large enough for a model train, but the most appropriate and evocative of homes.
Marc Maitland bought the old Rippingale station five years ago, keen to keep nods to its railway past which includes a platform, tracks and even an old locomotive.
And in the old freight shed, a perfect home was found for Ken’s job.
“It combines Marc’s interest with mine,” he said.
“I’m happy to do stuff for Marc instead of the rent!”
Once Bourne Station was completed, Ken set to work on a replica of Rippingale Station and connected the two developments together in their new spiritual home.
It has also included a scale model of Ken’s hometown tram system in Darwen, Lancashire, and is now putting the finishing touches on the final exhibition – an exhibition center that will be displayed on a new mezzanine .
Among the miniature details of the layouts you’ll find scraped everyday items – a domed roof once was 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,” he explained.
“They usually say it can take about 10 years to complete 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 to the public.
In addition to the facilities, enthusiasts will be greeted by a vast exhibition of souvenirs and exhibition panels.
There will also be a mini cinema, showing a film about Bourne station, a beer garden and there are plans to convert the former freight managers’ office into a rail-themed library.
Ken has also researched a typical schedule for the period and will run the correct pattern of trains and numbers at those same times.
Supervised children, for their part, will have the opportunity to take control and operate the models.
They plan to open for reservations only for groups of no more than eight people and to organize tours on Sunday afternoons, to also visit the rest of the old station, from April to September.
There will be no charge, but donations will be returned to the establishment or donated to charities.
“Once people started seeing Bourne’s layout, they said you should open it up so more people can see it,” Ken added.
“It will be an afternoon experience. We just wanted to do it for fun.”
Seats must be reserved in advance by calling Ken on 01778 423905.