Urban drainage systems are frequently analysed using hydraulic modelling software packages such as InfoWorks CS or MIKE-Urban. The use of such modelling tools allows the evaluation of sewer capacity and the likelihood and impact of pluvial flood events. Models can also be used to plan major investments such as increasing storage capacity or the implementation of sustainable urban drainage systems. In spite of their widespread use, when applied to flooding the results of hydraulic models are rarely compared with field or laboratory (i.e. physical modelling) data. This is largely due to the time and expense required to collect reliable empirical data sets. This paper describes a laboratory facility which will enable an urban flood model to be verified and generic approaches to be built. Results are presented from the first phase of testing, which compares the sub-surface hydraulic performance of a physical scale model of a sewer network in Yorkshire, UK, with downscaled results from a calibrated 1D InfoWorks hydraulic model of the site. A variety of real rainfall events measured in the catchment over a period of 15 months (April 2008–June 2009) have been both hydraulically modelled and reproduced in the physical model. In most cases a comparison of flow hydrographs generated in both hydraulic and physical models shows good agreement in terms of velocities which pass through the system.