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Features: Batcombe, BR SR, 1950s

Published 25 September 2018, 16:24

Batcombe represents an attempt by the Southern railway to create a Blackpool type resort on the isle of Purbeck across Poole harbour from the town.

The intent was to increase the Dorset traffic by providing a less gentile resort for the common folk. The Southern tried this a few times, the best-known being Allhallows-on-sea which was supposed to rival Southend. Like Allhallows this resort never developed as it should and the end result is a somewhat enigmatic place.

It’s not that the weather is bad; the sun always shines at Batcombe, but with a brassy gleam that fades paint and makes people fractious. It’s not the fault of the Southern or BR’ Southern Region that the people who have set up restaurants and cafes are the ones public health have not caught up with. Indeed it is said that William the Conqueror forbid the inclusion of Batcombe in the Doomsday book in case people thought the place belonged to him. I’m sure that the rumour that birds migrate round Batcombe rather than over it, or that when the tide goes out it has to be bribed to come back in are not true but I have no proof.

So welcome to Batcombe where the tide is out, the café off putting, the sun shining, the pub closed and above all there is absolutely nothing to do. Batcombe is the place you always never wanted to find yourself holidaying at.

The layout in its most popular form is 22ft long and uses the track plan from Hayling island. All scenes on the layout come from places on the South Coast including Rye, Hastings, Hove and Portsmouth. Operation is as close to Southern Region practice as we can get using a variation on the Swanage timetable. For those less interested in operation there is a find it activity.

Batcombe featured in HM78.

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