I was born in 1935 and
lived in High Barnet, North London, until 1965 when I moved to the
North East of England where I still live. This is an account of my
personal background as far as railway modelling is concerned.
It started just before
World War Two when my dad bought me a Hornby-Dublo train set, although
I was not allowed to operate it, just watch. It was fixed down to half
of a table-tennis table and occasionally, during the war, dad managed
to buy the odd second-hand wagon or piece of track. The layout also
acquired a home-made turntable and a station made by one of my uncles.
After the war our spare
bedroom became the railway room. The doors from redundant air-raid
shelters became baseboards and the same source provided the
electricity supply. My Christmas present one year was a Jamieson kit
for an LMS 2P 4-4-0. Dad made a good job of putting it together
using his massive 60 watt Solon soldering iron. I still have that loco
and it has still not been painted!
Dad also acquired a huge quantity of track made of brass rail soldered
to brass sleepers, so we adopted the stud contact pick-up system for
our layout. I spent years hammering nickel-silver wire studs through
those doors and soldering connector wires between them using that
unwieldy great Solon, acquiring in
the process some impressive burns and a lifelong loathing of soldering
I spent many happy
Saturdays scouring the WD surplus shops in Central London for
electrical equipment and I was a frequent visitor to Hamblings in
Cecil Court, K's in Shepherds Bush and Walkers & Holtzaphel, although I
never bought much.
In about 1950 I joined
the North London Society of Model Engineers who had a large, OO gauge,
2- rail layout located in the attic of the Potters Bar Community
Centre. It was very advanced for its time. I used to cycle there in all weathers. There I came under the
influence of the late Frank Dyer who was a superb scratch builder and
who taught me a great deal.
My dad was a printer by trade and one of his jobs was to take proof
copies from the etched copper plates that his firm produced. Whenever
these proofs were of railway subjects he took off an extra set of
prints for me.
One of these sets was of weird and wonderful shiny black locomotives
and I immediately decided I wanted to model them. I later found out
that the photos were for "The Premier Line" by O.S.Nock, published in 1952, and the locos
belonged to the London and North Western Railway.
I left school in 1953 and took up mountaineering,
sailing and girls; railway modelling took a back seat for several
years. I married in 1965 and we moved to North East England where I
became a partner in a model railway shop for a while and slowly put
together a GEM kit for an LNWR "Precursor", whilst planning a large layout
in the loft of our bungalow.
Divorce scuppered that
scheme and I thought little more about railway modelling until I retired in
1994. That year I went to the York show, my first visit to a model
railway exhibition for many years. I was amazed at the range of etched
kits that were available and by how small motors had become. In
conversation with the operator of a rather nice LNWR layout I remarked
that I had an ambition to build a 4mm scale model of a "Greater
Britain" compound but doubted if I had the skill to scratch-build it.
"You donít have to," he said, "that firm over there make a
kit for it".
I bought one there and then and the rest, as they say, is history.