The first of two model railways donated to Bexhill Museum by our patron, internationally renowned actor and performer Eddie Izzard, is the Izzard Family Model Railway.
The 00-gauge model railway built by Eddie, her brother Mark and their father John, was originally begun in 1959 when John was working in Aden, Yemen, and he and his wife Dorothy were awaiting the birth of Mark.
The work on the layout continued when the family returned to Bexhill after Eddie was born in 1962. John decided to extend it as a project to occupy Eddie and Mark during Dorothy’s illness and tragic death in 1968.
The restored railway was unveiled by Eddie and John Izzard in 2016. A row of scale properties evokes Laburnum Cottages, John’s home and from where for eight years from 1948 he rushed daily to Sidley Station to catch the commuter train to London on the Bexhill West-Crowhurst branch line.
An industrial unit recalls the old Chiltonian Biscuits packing factory behind the cottages, a model garage represents Smith & Humphrey, which is still in business. Sidley Station however is long gone, cut off from the rail network by the 1963 Beeching Report, and its track embankments absorbed into the 2015 Hastings-Bexhill Link Road project.
Museum visitors young and old can send two trains around the double track via press-buttons. The layout sits in the technology gallery alongside steam, petrol and battery-powered cars of special Bexhill significance.