In 1996, when our son, Stuart, was 11, I built a board on which to put his train set. It was about 8 feet by 4 feet and too big for any floor space in the house so it was suspended in the garage on a pulley system so that it could be raised and lowered, allowing the car still to go in the garage.
Like many people during lockdown, I decided to tidy the garage and in doing so, wondered if the train set still worked. I don’t think it had been down for at least fifteen years! So I lowered the board, cleaned the track and tried a train and, “Yes”, it worked. Stuart had three engines and several buildings, most of which were card kits that Sharon had made for him. We had also inherited a box of railway ‘stuff’ and in looking through it realised there were four engines, several trucks and coaches, some scenic materials and a large amount of track. Having helped Richard Kasher with his model railway over the last three or four years, I decided I could develop Stuart’s train set by designing a more complex layout and adding scenery.
In my study, I have two model “Venture” buses which, some of you may remember, ran in the Consett and Stanley area. I realised that they were the correct scale for the layout so decided to use them and to put other items on the layout reminiscent of my youth. For example, one of the buildings Stuart had was an Infants School, so I made a zebra crossing to go on the road outside, just as it was in Annfield Plain, outside of the Infants School I attended. An unmade kit in the box was a set of brewery buildings. Sharon made them up and I made an entrance based on the Cameron’s Brewery in Hartlepool, but I have named it The Mordue Brewery, as there is a brewery of that name in North Shields and also Mordue was my mother’s maiden name. Last year for Father’s Day Stuart and Sarah gave me some money to buy something for the layout so I bought some cars – a mini (my first car) and three Cortinas (Mks 1 ,2 and 3). My Dad had all three models, (not at the same time!) and I learned to drive and took my test in his Mk3.
I have really enjoyed employing the variety of skills needed – joinery: to extend the board and strengthen the pulley system; electrical work: soldering wires onto the point motors and then routing the wires to a bank of switches; craft work: making model buildings and painting scenery and, of course, lots of “thinking”: planning what is possible and deciding in what order the various tasks need to be done.
I have included in the photographs a picture of the dusty board as it was before I started and then a selection of pictures showing the various stages of development. There is still plenty to do and I look forward to the day when it is possible for other people to visit and see it for themselves. Hopefully, not too long now.
Best Wishes to all,