Kingstorre in EM gauge

25 October 2018
2-85209.jpg GWR Hawksworth County class 4-6-0
Kingstorre is an EM gauge home-based model railway layout by Robert Dudley-Cooke. Set in post-war South Devon it recreates a section of the Great Western main line. The layout features post-war era rolling stock and locomotives.
  • Layout name: Kingstorre
  • Scale/Gauge: 1:76/EM gauge
  • Era: Post-war
  • Location (depicted): GWR main line in South Devon
  • Owner (club/indivudual): Robert Dudley-Cooke
  • Dimensions (any units): 3ftx25ft
  • Control: 12V DC
  • Run: end to end
  • Goods yard/facilities: yes
  • See more: November 2010 BRM

The branch from Combe and Okehampton (where it meets the Southern Railway) terminates at Kingstorre and a small sub-shed of Newton Abbot houses and services the branch-line locomotives. The main line cuts inland through the red cliffs and crosses a small inlet with Harrison’s Granary at its head. Porthminster Road is laid out in a spacious manner, and here the trains can gather speed on the two through lines, only the local stopping services and the milk trains use the platform loops. The South Devon Dairies and Creamery has a large depot with private siding, part of the dairy buildings being the old pumping house built by Brunel for his atmospheric railway. The branch to Porthminster, a fishing village some two miles inland up the river, is normally operated by a GWR 14xx locomotive and auto-trailer, but a diesel railcar running through Porthminster Road and terminating at Kingstorre can also be seen. As the trains leave Porthminster Road eastwards towards Exeter they again plunge through the red cliffs returning to the sea-wall and the many tunnels leading to reads the GWR publicity of the time.

Kingstorre in EM gauge

After assisting with the war effort, WD 2-8-0 No. 77001 finds itself post-war on mixed-freight workings in more peaceful surroundings. Kingstorre follows typical GWR practise - note the short rake of coal wagons, parked right.

The model of Robert Dudley-Cooke's imaginary area started when the first coach was built for the proposed layout in 1969, although in truth it had its origins in childhood memories. Railways or more particularly the GWR and SR railways have always been a core part of his life. There was a picture of him at two years old standing on a platform gazing up into the cab of a GWR locomotive with child reins on, and his passion for the railway scene and its unifying influence in the landscape have been ever present. For him, the locomotive was only part of the interest. It was the totality of the railway environment which was important when he first found, as a child, the seawall between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth in the early 1950s. It had everything he could want - sea, sand, sunshine and above all a busy steam main line skirting the beach along which proceeded a procession of principally main line expresses going to such exotic sounding places as Penzance at the end of the line.

Kingstorre in EM gauge

A GWR 4-6-0 'Castle' speeds across the viaduct, much to the amazement of the wildlife in the river. Rolling summer-scorched hills are a key scenic element to this layout.

Finding space

The structure and design of the layout was virtually decided upon at the outset. But lack of a suitably sized room (32ft x 25ft) at the time and for many years later, meant that all endeavours were put into producing stock and building in excess of 150 hand-built coaches, copious numbers of wagons and over 30 locomotives, none of which ran sufficiently well to encourage him to have the layout or part of it working.

Kingstorre in EM gauge

A GWR Hawksworth 'County' Class 4-6-0 heads through Port-Minster Road with a through passenger whilst a GWR 14XX 0-4-2 and autocoach awaits in the bay platform on a local passenger.

Starting the build

Baseboards were constructed and detailed scenically with the intention that one day they would be joined together to form the layout in its entirety. EM gauge was chosen as a more viable alternative to P4, bearing in mind the size and complexity of the layout envisaged. The track is either set on butyl rubber over a plywood base or 1in cork to give reasonably quiet running. The first incarnation of the layout was set on insulation board with copper-clad track with real granite chippings, set solid in PVA glue. The noise was unacceptable and a lesson was learned.
The necessity was for part of the railway to be set on the sea-wall. The main town was to be similar to Dawlish. To copy Dawlish in model form would have been too restrictive when it came to architecture and the features he wished to model. The basic layout of Dawlish was followed with the small river running through the centre of the garden square, but the buildings are of an earlier period and design in the main, in accordance with his own tastes. In any event, 32ft wouldn't have been long enough to effect a scale model of Dawlish.

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Kingstorre in EM gauge

Scenery plays a large part in setting the scene on Kingstorre. Robert opted for an earlier style for his buildings on the layout, witnessed here with thatched roof houses and outbuildings. Pre-worboys signs dominate the scene.


The second consideration was to have a four-road through country station and the track layout of Totnes (suitably reversed) was chosen and has worked well. The operation of the trains was to be ‘an ordinary weekday in the life of the GWR’ - set in June 1947. The full summer timetable would not yet be in operation and being a weekday, trains would also be shorter. However, it would be necessary to have sufficient stock to represent a believable timetable both on the Up and Down main line, hence the enormous stock building programme. The scenic side of the railway was arranged in a ‘U’ shape using both sides and one end of the railway room and therefore the storage sidings are underneath on one side. He feels the arrangement isn't ideal and he wouldn't recommend it. It means that all trains must be pre-formed with a locomotive and stock allocated.

There are 17 Up sidings and 17 Down sidings and in addition there are two branches. The main branch for Kingstorre has five hidden sidings arranged on a turntable and the branch to Porthminster from Porthminster Road, only one.

Kingstorre in EM gauge

From its construction to its weathering, the ticket office is a fine model. Note its metal-clad end (left) with roof alterations and the variety of travel posters tempting passengers on holiday. 


A lifetime's dedication to a layout often leads to fantastic results, as evidenced here with Kingstorre. From scenery to rolling stock, all of it matches Robert Dudley-Cooke's high building standards. Though not recommended to those looking to build their first layout, if you have a large railway room and an ambitious project in mind, why not? Though, be warned, projects always take far longer than you might think...

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