One feature of the ‘Shed’ era that I forgot was an interest in narrow gauge railways. A few Model Railway News articles were supplemented by a copy of Don Boreham’s seminal ‘Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling’ and a history of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. Also at that time, Eggerbahn, Minitrains and Peco Crazy Track appears. I produced a number of models with varying success – including L&B coaches and goods stock in Plastikard – and models of a Glyn Valley tram engine and L&B ‘Lyn’ on early ‘N’ chassis. And predating these, an ‘O’ gauge Glynn Valley coach in card with thread beading as described by Don Boreham. This model fitted perfectly on a Hornby Dublo 10′ van chassis removed from its donor vehicle. Unfortunately, none of these vehicles exist today.
So, off to university in Cambridge, that logically generated a new interest in the Great Eastern Railway, and less logically in EM gauge. And an uncertainty whether I was interested in 1900, 1950 or 1990 as a period to model. I still have my rather nice detailed Will’s Finecast kit of a J69 0-6-0 tank, in GER blue as the Liverpool Street pilot. I haven’t got my scratch built GER 2-2-2 express locomotive. Not finished (sounds familiar) but it looked the part. I build one or two ‘O’ gauge GER wagons in plastic, that are still tucked away somewhere.
1976. After university came work and flats in Kennington and Clapham. Not much time or space for a railway, but I started to build an EM version of the classic ‘Minories’ layout. It didn’t get far, though I found an unbuilt EM point kit recently. Marriage in 1979 and children followed. I had plans for a small EM shunting layout, based on John Allison’s Selbury Works Sidings, there wasn’t really room in our flat for it.
We spent 1984-5 in Hong Kong, and the modelling muse picked up again, as I took enough modelling materials and etched kits to build a number of ‘O’ gauge pre-group wagons. Then in 1986 we moved to a house in Redhill, with a lined loft space and room for a 12′ ‘O’ gauge layout, a work bench, and a chance to build a few models and even finish some of them.
All this came to an end in 1993, when it was all put away to move house again (from one end of the road to the other, to gain more space). The loft was lost to a conversion to a bedroom for my eldest daughter. But a foot was kept in the door by keeping the landing outside as a workshop area.
And then in 1997, the ESNG approach Earlswood Baptist Church with a request to hire the hall for their meetings. The church leadership made the fateful suggestion – ‘Jon, you like trains, can you liaise with them?’ I did and that has started 18 years of ‘N’ gauge modelling, and three layouts that were really pretty well finished! And an interest in the USA railways, specifically Lehigh Valley and interurbans, especially Pacific Electric.
As you can see from the last three posts, I am not one of those people who spend a lifetime building one line or one company. Too much of a magpie mind I guess. But as I review my modelling activities and the drawers of models at home, I am trying to ask myself, ‘What do I really enjoy about model railways?’ Writing this series of posts has been one way to think through that question. I’ll think some more, perhaps as I go on holiday, and write a final post with some thoughts in that direction.