Bygone age at Uckfield railway station brought to life

Trains are still leaving Uckfield railway station bound for Brighton and Tunbridge Wells.

No, the Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) project has not come to fruition over the weekend because these trains are in miniature.

They are part of a detailed model railway owned by David York who contacted this website after reading our feature on the 50th anniversary of the closure by British Railways of the Uckfield to Lewes line.

uckfield railway station model

A train leaves Uckfield railway station for Tunbridge Wells on David York’s model railway. All that remains today on site is the signal box plus the telegraph pole and phone box. The footbridge can be found today on the Mid Hants line.

Mr York is a 71-year-old retired engineer who started his career in Crawley with a company that made wind-tunnel aircraft research models.

He said: “I worked on many military and civil projects including Concorde and the Tornado [which is being withdrawn from service by the RAF this month].

“In the 1970s, a friend and I started to show our collection of 8mm railway films at clubs and exhibitions, among them the Uckfield Model Club.


“The layout was started in the early 70s by an individual as a project, I am not sure if he was a member of the club, but it was passed on to them as a club layout.

“It was completed to a standard showing the main buildings and exhibited I believe about five times.

“It was also fitted by the late Keith Nock with the prototype of his electronic crossing gates.”

Mr York said that while doing a show for the Uckfield club in about 1980 he was asked if he knew anybody who would like to take on the layout.

 A Brighton Atlantic on a special to Brighton passing the shunters box for the goods yard at Uckfield railway station on David Yprkl's model. The box today is in use at Lewis nature reserve where it is used by bird watchers.

A Brighton Atlantic on a special to Brighton passing the shunters box for the goods yard at Uckfield railway station on David York’s model. The box today is in use at Lewis nature reserve where it is used by bird watchers.

“The main reason the layout had been out of use for some time was the original base board construction was on two levels to get in the river and bridge. This meant modular construction was not used and as the layout is 6.2metres long, made up of just two boards.

“This meant each board was very heavy and needed a large van to transport them plus four other boards that make up the whole layout.

“Another reason as the width is only 1.22 metres the curves are tight which restricts stock that can be used.

Mum’s loft

“I offered to take on the layout and I installed it in my mum’s loft at her house in Crawley where some work was carried out.”

Mr York moved to Uckfield in 1987 and the loft in his home was not large enough to accommodate the layout, so it remained in Crawley until 1989 when his mother moved to Uckfield.

“The layout was taken apart mothballed and stored in the loft here and remained there until I retired in 2013.”

Mr York then had time to find a proper home for his layout which he went on to renovate.

New ballast

“It became apparent time had not been kind to it.

“The foam underlay had degraded so all the track had to be refurbished and new ballast.

“The glue holding the hand-built buildings together had given out so they were taken apart cleaned refurbished and put back together.

“At the same time all the details left off were put on and the errors corrected using all the photos I took in 1987 and the vast collection found online,” he said.l

The station currently is in the period 1962 to 1969 but Mr York is in the process of adding the canopy over the entrance which will make it correct to pre-1962.

Never finished

He commented: “As the station altered a lot over the years, I have made the decision that if there photo evidence I will put on the layout even if this means they were not all there at the same time.

“As any modellers will tell you a layout is never finished.

Ancestry note:

When Mr York moved to Uckfield with his wife and two children he began an ancestry search and found his family have been in East Sussex since 1602 – 22 of his ancestors are buried in Dallington churchyard, which is between Heathfield and Battle. His great aunt was in service with Lord Nevill, here in Uckfield.


50 years of hurt – Uckfield to Lewes line closure feature

Lavender Line marks 50th anniversary since last train ran

What is BML2? (external link)

See also:

Uckfield audience hears of the women who flew for Hitler 

Uckfield shopping tips for March

Weald Hall figures down again

Find local organisations in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on



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