Back to Buntingford

Pete Fowler first thought about building an OO-scale layout of the former Buntingford branch terminus in Hertfordshire 30 years ago, but was put off by the lack of information then available. The internet has changed all that – and Pete Kelly brings this progress report on a charming and atmospheric layout in progress.

Imagine the scene as a former Great Eastern Railway J15 0-6-0T, its steam dome characteristically close to the chimney, busies itself on shunting duties around a branch terminus on a quiet summer’s afternoon, the constant ‘thump, thump’ of the little tank engine’s Westinghouse air-brake pump and the clanking of the fireman’s shovel intruding above the bursts of birdsong and the drones of insects as he occasionally adds a little more coal to the firebox.

Zemo sound-fitted Hornby OO-gauge J15 0-6-0 No. 65475 backs on to the branch train on Pete Fowler’s in-progress ‘Buntingford’ layout.

Other sounds are heard, too, as the J15 goes about its duties – the short whistle blasts; the sharp hissing of steam as cylinder drain cocks force condensation from the inside cylinders or safety valves crack open; the squealing of flanges on tight radii…

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Close your eyes and listen, and thanks to an excellent Zemo sound system you’ll be transported back in time to the long-lost terminus station of the former Buntingford branch line in Hertfordshire.

A three-cylinder BMC lorry with its well remembered ‘threepenny bit’ arrives in the coal yard.

Pete Fowler’s ‘Buntingford’ is an end-to-end OO-gauge layout representing the former Great Eastern Railway station that opened early in July 1863 and was closed to passengers by the Eastern Region of British Railways in November 1964.

All that remains today is the former main station building, which Pete has scratch-modelled to perfection – but that might not seem much to go on if you’re determined to replicate the entire station and its environs.

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What was once the main Buntingford station building is all that’s now left of the branch.

Pete first thought about modelling Buntingford more than 30 years ago, when information about the long-closed branch was incredibly difficult to obtain – but thanks to the internet, and especially the Bunt Preservation Society, which was formed in January 1995 specifically to keep the history of the Buntingford branch alive, he managed to find everything he needed, including a comprehensive collection of photographic material.

Why ‘The Bunt?’ Well, that was what those who worked on the line always called it.

For the full article and to view more images, see the January 2019 edition of Modelling – available now!
For a complete list of stockists and how to get your copy, visit:

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt