A model ride through Rolleston-on-Dove, by rail:
To best view the line, settle down in one of the two non-corridor carriages that make-up the “Tutbury Jinny”, the train that gave its name to the nature trail following the route of the line between Rolleston-on-Dove and Stretton and Claymills after closure. Having left Tutbury, the auto coach leading, the “Jinny” has taken the right-hand track at Marston Junction. After crossing the River Dove, Dove Junction is traversed, before travelling over Station Road Bridge.
The original road bridge, built 1848 had stout supporting brickwork tapering upwards with buttresses on each side, to compensate for the roadway not being at right-angles to the track. Four capped wings retained the earth embankment. A photograph taken in 1965 shows the original span replaced and the brickwork taken down to track level. It is reported that the steel work was replaced during the early 1920's when a forge was established in the roadway below and the blacksmith would throw the white hot rivets up to the men re-building the span. The original bridge was selected as the prototype to be modelled; a photograph taken around 1910 being the main source of information for the plans.
To the right, adjacent to the shunting spur, the simple brick-built plate-layer’s hut comes into view. Two photographs, taken by a camera pointed at other subjects, were the only reference for this building hence detail on the east and south sides only is accurate. There is no evidence of a chimney although a coke stove was usually an essential item in such a building.
Immediately to the left is the signal cabin. Built for the opening of the station - 1st November 1894, this typical North Staffs cabin contained 26 levers, but would only be opened for the shunting of the goods yard. An excellent reference photograph of the cabin, taken shortly before its demolition in 1952, by F. W. Shuttleworth, appears in a number of books. The viewpoint was ideal for preparing the elevations from which the model was constructed.
Once past the signal cabin, the platforms begin and the train draws to a halt. The prototype up line platform remains complete with rear brick wall, the gap to accommodate the shelter having been filled with brick from the opposite platform wall when the buildings were demolished during the sixties. What better reference could one have! Measurements were transferred directly to the model with little need for shortening; the North Staffs were generally modeller-friendly when planning the length of platforms.
Both platform buildings were timber framed with overlapping fascia boards, as the plans indicate. These plans were developed initially from a handful of period black and white photographs. The current models are in fact the second attempt as more accurate reference materialised. The booking hall was thought to be made-up of three main rooms - booking office, waiting room and ladies room. Due to the position of the goods loop to the rear, entry to the building was from the platform. The waiting shelter was simply one room containing a wooden bench and stove.
Re-starting from the station, a glance to the right reveals the goods loop with accompanying hand-operated crane and loading gauge. No reference is available for the crane, loading gauge or store shed and weighbridge, which the official plans indicate. The model ignores the latter two items. Both crane and loading gauge are built from commercial kits and considered as accurate as possible to their originals. A little delving along the path of the present day nature trail reveals a stone circle - the foundation for the crane.
Behind the goods yard an iron fence marks the boundary with South Hill and remains today, almost in its entirety. Four gateways give access to the railway company dwellings occupied by stationmaster and staff. One gateway is wider and gives access to the "drover's road", a track for the herding of livestock from Craythorne Lane to the station cattle dock. A later resident of the stationmaster's house reported that this building included a ticket window so either passengers had a choice of where to purchase a ticket or the facility may have been used for freight/parcels documentation.
Leaving the platforms, to the right, the cattle dock spurs off from the goods loop. A short dock, it accommodates four wagons and adjoins a milk dock serving the main down line. Again these platform faces survive along with the buffer stop, so reference gathering could not have been simpler.
In reality the line entered a deep mile-long cutting before the next station, Stretton and Claymills was reached. During the building of this line, earth dug to create the cutting was transferred to the other side of Station Road to create an embankment or beyond Stretton for that of the Hawkins Lane branch.
Rolleston’s original compliment of signals was four lower quadrant home units, products of McKenzie and Holland. These would only be turned to danger when shunting operations were in progress. All were replaced with upper quadrant types in 1951during the BR period.
The final feature is the footbridge built for the Thornewill family to link Dovecliff Hall with Craythorne Hall, both in their ownership. Only the brick piers remain, the lattice iron span, possibly a product of local engineering company Thornewill and Wareham, having been removed during the sixties. Advantage has been taken of "modeller's license" by moving this structure close to the milk dock due to restricted space.
Next stop: Stretton and Claymills.