Layouts we love: Callum’s modelling bugle call marks the Battle of Amiens

Somerset modeller and lately TV star Callum Willcox, 24, describes the inspiration behind the building of his First World War 009-scale military trench railway layout ‘Amiens 1918 – Tracks & Trenches’ that recently took a top award at a Swansea model railway exhibition.

The Battle of Amiens marked one of the final major battles of the First World War, with the opening phase of the Allied Offensive beginning on August 8 1918. The battle, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, ultimately led to the end of the conflict. 

Callum Willcox – a young railway modeller with a big future.

With more than 75,000 troops, 2000 aircraft and 500 tanks, the Allies advanced more than eight miles on the first day alone, recapturing German-held fortifications and equipment.

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Set during the battle, my layout scene depicts a recaptured artillery battery that has become an Allied field headquarters and supply depot, with a narrow-gauge field railway serving the troops and tanks being prepared for the next offensive. 

Supply trains, hauled by a mixture of British, US and French locomotives as well as captured German rolling stock, stream through the Battery with tons of equipment and material that will lead ultimately to victory on the Western Front.

The layout

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The layout came about through a personal interest in both railways and military history, and I wanted to design a display that would incorporate both of these interests seamlessly – and with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War just around the corner, it seemed the perfect time to do so. Construction started in the spring of 2017, with the aim of getting the layout finished for the start of 2018, ready for the commemorations.


The baseboard for the layout is a pre-cut 4ft x 2ft MDF sheet from a local DIY store, braced with plywood battens around the edges. A separate MDF sheet, again braced with ply, provides support for the scenic backdrop and lighting rig that’s just back from centre of the main board.

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A Bachmann Baldwin locomotive model moves troops along the trench railway, every single one of them painstakingly hand-assembled and painted by Callum.

Legs for the layout are provided by two adjustable trestle stands, again purchased from a local DIY store. The legs are perfect for the layout as they fold flat for transportation, and also allow me to adjust the overall height of the display.  

As all of this has to fit into the back of my Small VW Fox, making sure that the layout and all its equipment fitted was key to the build.

For the full article and to view more images, see the December edition of Modelling – available now!

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