Ted’s ‘rediscovered’ layout becomes a star attraction at resort’s museum
ON July 28, 1873, Skegness station was opened by the Wainfleet and Firsby Railway and within a decade, an east coast fishing village mushroomed into a booming mass holiday resort.
Now another railway has been brought to Skeggy – in the form of an OO gauge model layout which was ‘rediscovered’ in a static caravan elsewhere in Lincolnshire.
It now takes pride of place in the Village Church Farm Museum, which boasts of being Lincolnshire’s only open-air museum, situated right in the heart of the seaside town.
The layout was built by Lincolnshire man Tim Webb, who spent more than 50 years researching, building, and modelling it.
After he died, the layout passed into the care of Tim and Wendy Seabrook, who hoped that the work of their friend could be seen by a wide audience.
Museum volunteer Grahame Baumber offered to find it a new home. After many photographs were taken to record its details, the layout was painstakingly dismantled, with each piece of track, building and scenery carefully placed into storage boxes.
As the museum offered the space for it to be rebuilt, the project team was donated more track, rolling stock, and locomotives by another county resident, Barbara Chester.
Railway modelling was the hobby of her late husband Roger, and she did not want the equipment to be left stored in the loft.
The original baseboards of Tim’s layout had deteriorated over time and The Toolshed, at The Askefield Project in nearby Friskney, run by Chris and Hannah Blevins, were brought in to build new ones. The project teaches people new, practical skills that are useful in work and dayto-day life.
The project team of Grahame and Dave and June Harding repaired the buildings, track and scenery, while friend Mike Webster worked on additional buildings.
Over 12 months, working at the museum for about three hours a week while negotiating through coronavirus lockdowns, the layout began to take shape.
It was also upgraded to a digital control system, enabling better control over the locomotives.
Thanks to Tim’s research and using his buildings, the layout has retained its late 1950s and 1960s period. The locomotives used also try to reflect this. It features three continuous running loops and an end-to-end shuttle on an elevated section.
The buildings include three stations, rows of shops, houses, a brewery, and numerous sheds and industrial structures.
There are still a number of unused buildings and features from the original layout and these are being prepared to add to the next part of the railway project, which will feature models of local stations. Museum volunteers have been enthusiastic in supporting the project, and running days for 2022 are being planned.
The team is currently looking for trainee locomotive drivers for the layout.
The Village Church Farm offers a glimpse of agricultural life in days gone by. The farmhouse was built in 1760, making it the second oldest building in Skegness. It is furnished in the style of the Edwardian period.
The site also includes Withern Cottage, a classic example of a Lincolnshire ‘mud and stud’ thatched cottage, found at Withern, near Louth, in 1980. Subsequently deconstructed, it was moved and carefully rebuilt on the museum site and opened to visitors in August 1982.
Boothby Barn, another local historical structure which was relocated on the site, now houses ‘Bob’, a steam traction engine built by Richard Hornsby & Sons in Grantham, which was originally sent to Tasmania in 1892.
The museum holds regular events throughout the year, the next being a performance by Boston-based medieval re-enactors the Knights of Skirbeck on April 15-18.
The museum is open daily, except Thursdays, between 10am and 4pm.