A while back, I posted some photos of some of my old kit and scratch built models. Those posts didn’t include the path that I took to get from there to here. I was thinking about this in the context of where to go next in the hobby, so it’s good to put it all down.
Like many of my generation, my interest in models started on the floor with Hornby clockwork ‘O’ gauge. I remember a green 0-4-0 passenger engine and tender and two 4-wheeled carmine and cream BR coaches and a circle of track got me going. My father understood real railways so a black 0-4-0 tank engine, and some goods stock followed, with some points and extra track.
I quickly developed an early appreciated the benefits of the ‘shelf layout’. If I laid out a circular layout, I had to put it away at tea time. If I built a straight shunting layout down one wall, it could stay there for weeks. No brainer! Shunting with Hornby clockwork was less than ideal, but I had hours of fun with these models.
Age 1o my father and I started out in OO. A little 6′ x 4′ layout in the spare bedroom, using 2-rail Hornby Dublo stock but the newly released Peco Streamline track and points. My first locomotive was O8 diesel shunter. Still an excellent model, 50 years later. My father didn’t really understand why I chose this model. Perhaps it was the influence of Thomas the Tank Engine, and ‘Diesel’ in those stories. The O8 was followed by a BR standard 2-6-4T (another lovely model that still looks good today).
Next came a larger 7′ x 5′ layout, that was not as satisfying as the smaller oval. We considered moving the layout into the third bedroom / boxroom – it would have been about 6′ x 6′ – perfect now in ‘N’ but I think my mother may have put her foot down. The 7′ x 5′ layout was replaced by an L-shaped terminus to fiddle yard layout, although only one leg of the L got built. I was still able to have a lot of fun, using the three engine shed roads as my fiddle yard.
I added one more Hornby ‘locomotive’ to the roster – the 2-EPB electric unit. No doubt I made this choice as I saw 2- and 4-EPB’s every day on the local commuter lines. The trailer car proved very useful, in later days, as a push-pull driving carriage with a small steam locomotive. This is one model I wish I still had – I recently saw one on Ebay selling for £800. However, this was a collectors item – my Hornby models were well used, slightly battered, and in the case of some goods wagons, repainted in pre-nationalisation liveries.
A feature of these years was visits to ‘Hobbytime’ in West Wickham. This was the classic Aladdin’s cave of a model shop, and the further you got back into it the more interesting the kits and bits and pieces got. My father referred to the owner as ‘dog-face’ (I can, I think, reveal this as all parties are safely deceased) – unfair, but I suspect he’s passed his sense of humour to his son. However, said gentlemen was a source of generally good advice, and through him we discovered Romford wheels, copper clad live-frog points, Wills kits and other essentials of the hobby at that time.
I’m sorry there are no photographs of these early efforts. In the 1960’s there were no digital cameras, and money was short enough to think before using and developing film. But that’s enough for today – next time, we’ll recall the ‘shed’ era…..