Like many other schoolboys then, my interest in railway modelling started with the present of a Hornby "O" gauge tinplate, clockwork train set, in late 1952.  Progressing to the Hornby Dublo 3-rail electric system in around 1956, an initial fixed layout was constructed on a small portable board set up on the dining room table - or out in the garden. 

   A built-in system all around my bedroom followed; then conversion to a much more realistic 2-rail system, "Great Westernization" and finer-scale trackwork by 1966. Without the great variety of ready-made products that are available nowadays, improvization was the name of the game then.......  

Model Railways notes 1952-74.pdf Model Railways notes 1952-74.pdf
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      Another popular and much-missed pastime of the 1950s was "Meccano".  My collection was handed down from my father and uncles, and contained parts dating from around 1921. To make up a really useful larger set, many parts were added around 1954 for "pocket money" prices.

      Rediscovery of all this lot after a house move prompted sorting, cataloguing & renovation of the parts. It was interesting to see how some of these had been changed subtly over the years of production, and of course several changes of colour scheme were made. A surprising amount of literature was found to be still available, going into minute detail of the Meccano system, which enabled identification and dating of some of the more obscure bits & pieces......     

Meccano notes.pdf Meccano notes.pdf
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......and who remembers that other wonderful model building construction system, "Bayko"? It seems to have quietly disappeared after only a few years, I think probably losing out in competition with the more versatile but less realistic "Lego" range. Here are a couple of pictures as a reminder.......

Bayko.pdf Bayko.pdf
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    Our local club, the Staines Model Railway Society was formed in Autumn 1965 by Terry Wheelwright, Chris Leigh,Tony Dyer and other like-minded souls; I joined as a "junior" at the earliest opportunity. The initial meetings were held in a side room of the main (old) Town Hall building off Clarence Street in Staines, then later at a modern scout hut in Laleham. Here are some pictures of the society's early days....   

The Staines Model Railway Society.pdf The Staines Model Railway Society.pdf
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 The first major layout project undertaken was a scale representation of the GWR terminus station at Staines West, which had just then closed down. Here is a copy of the article which Chris published in his "Model Railway Constructor" magazine, to celebrate its completion and forthcoming exhibition in the main room of the Town Hall, in November 1966......  

MRC 1966 Staines West Model article.pdf MRC 1966 Staines West Model article.pdf
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      As a result of my new club contacts, I was able to get a couple of articles published in the "Model Railway Constructor" during 1966-7. The first came about when junior assistant editor Chris Leigh had a blank page to fill up at very short notice, hence the piece on building a Great Western auto-coach, with a photograph of my model taken before the paint was even dry! 

      A new-found fascination with the narrow-gauge slate railways around Bangor, North Wales led to the second article, somewhat of a diversion from my mainstream modelling activities which never progressed any further....     

MRC 1967 article GW autocoaches in card.pdf MRC 1967 article GW autocoaches in card.pdf
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MRC 1967 Padarn & Penrhyn article.pdf MRC 1967 Padarn & Penrhyn article.pdf
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      After a break of some twelve years, with the usual several house moves, job changes and marriage, I was looking at our large new converted loft space one day around 1979 and thinking "this could make a very nice model railway!"  The planning stage proved somewhat extended and nothing much happened until 1988, when I sent my ideas to the "Railway Modeller" magazine (the Model Railway Constructor" having sadly folded by then). Here is the grand plan.....  

RM 1988 article Bala model.pdf RM 1988 article Bala model.pdf
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     So then I had to do something!   This something took around 11 years of (mainly) winter evenings, and by 1999 "Bala & Bala Junction" was nearly finished. Nearly but not quite - these tthings never seem to be completely finished. Chris had by then started up a new magazine "Model Rail" and wanted to include my effort in the main feature "Layouts that never leave home". This meant that it did indeed need to be "finished" and a check-list of some 50 items needing attention was furnished, together with a deadline for the filming - this was just like being at work!  The end result is reproduced here, with Chris's kind permission......    (there is also a video, made a few months later, which may still be available from the Bauer Media backlist) 

     Completion of the project inevitably led to a period of introspection - where next?  It was interesting to compare thoughts on why I was drawn to modelling the railway at Bala at the outset, with those on completion some 12 years later...........

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