My journey with model trains started when I was a little boy when my dad made me a little push along train from an old telegraph pole (yes, that’s a much younger me in the photo) and I first saw trains on the railway line at the bottom of my parents garden in Wimbledon.
The sights, smells and sounds that these huge and magnificent machines made as they flew past my garden and the goings on in the mysterious signal box just down the road stirred something deep within my childhood imagination.
I was hooked.
My fixation was compounded by the discovery of Ivor the Engine on TV.
To the little me, the railway works and buildings of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway on which Ivor’s adventures took place were wonderful, exciting and fascinating to watch.
And even today my layouts usually feature an engine shed, mine and signal box. (The photo above is yours truly on a day out to Canterbury Museum where there’s a fantastic display about the creator of Ivor, Oliver Postgate).
A hobby for life
As soon as I was old enough, my dad bought me some trains and a lifelong passion for tiny trains was set in stone. I still have some these and in particular the Tri-ang models and especially Tri-ang wagons and locomotives.
The dining room table went from home for the family dinner to a busy railway interchange with miniature versions of the trains I’d seen in the garden, racing from plastic station to plastic station.
My railway progressed from the dining room table to baseboards in my bedroom and into the loft as the layout grew in size and complexity. I would spend hour-after-hour-after-hour designing and building wonderful — well I thought so! — OO gauge railways and visiting the local model shop on Wimbledon Broadway.
If I remember correctly, this was called Platform 1 and being a child on a limited budget I’d spend most of my time in the shop picking through the displays of scatter and tools that I could afford with my meagre pocket money. I still get a buzz whenever I see tools and scatter material displays in model shops!
Sadly, I left these behind when I left home but my love for trains stayed with me and I took — and still do — every opportunity to travel and commute by train rather than drive and I try to find time to visit heritage and light railways whenever I can.
When my sons were born, I wasted no time introducing them to the joy of toy trains and some of my happiest times were playing trains with them, building elaborate layouts first with wooden trains and later with plastic trains.
After a short gap, I returned back to model trains myself and now spend much of my spare time rebuilding the model railways of my childhood, complete with signal boxes, and dabbling with Mamod engines.
I’ve built dozens of layouts of the years and have just recently moved into a new house where I’m in the process of building a layout in the loft. This is based very loosely on a narrow gauge Cornwall (Pentewan) and is 009 scale. Although I also regularly build small, micro, layouts on different themes.
The techniques, experiences, tips and reviews of products I use to construct these constitute much of this website.A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.