There’s playing with toy trains - and then there’s constructing a model railway.
And the two are entirely different things.
Walking into Gainsborough Model Railway Society’s premises on Florence Terrace is like stepping into a miniature perfect world, where the trains always run on time.
The half mile of track is an exact replica of the King’s Cross to Leeds Central line as it was in the 1940s to 1960s, the great days of steam.
The attention to detail is staggering and what makes it all the more impressive is that everything has been made by hand.
Secretary Mick Clapham, 76, has been a member since he was a schoolboy of ten.
He said: “I went along with some friends and got interested in it and it’s become a lifelong hobby.”
GMRS was set up 65 years and moved to its current home, a former girls’ school, two years later.
The model railway has been a work in progress for all those years and has earned the society recognition from enthusiasts all over the world.
Trevor Pinyoun, 74, who has been a member for 40 years, said: “We get people visiting from all over the country and from abroad. There aren’t many places with a track as big as ours.”
“We’ve already had an enquiry from some people in the Netherlands who are coming over in October and we’ve had people from America. We’ve also got people from Fort William who come to help work the railway at Easter.”
A glance at the visitors book shows the distances people are prepared to travel to see the railway in action.
It takes ten signalmen to operate, working to a timetable and using bell codes to indicate the position of trains on the system, just as on a real railway line.
Members have to be trained on how to use each of the signal boxes, which is usually done at Monday night meetings when the railway is put into action.
Mick worked on the railways in Gainsborough and Trevor in Doncaster and look back fondly on the days of steam.
Their contacts within the industry have also helped them to secure memorabilia such as old station signs which hang above the model railway.
There are more than 160 engines, all handmade, running on 7mm ‘O’ guage track. The oldest locomotive was built in 1947 and there are replicas of famous engines such as the Flying Scotsman, Mallard, and Oliver Cromwell.
There are nine stations, all based on real locations, three goods yards and five locomotive depots with turntables.
Mick said: “Our model of King’s Cross station is built to the actual plans and is as authentic as possible. There are three tunnels leading out of the station and above them is Regent’s Canal and that scene is based on how it was in the 1960s.” Details include advertising bills on walls.
The society’s president is Alan Pegler who saved the Flying Scotsman and still attends meetings occasionally.
GMRS will be opening to the public on various dates from 7th April. For more information on joining call Mick on 01427 615871.