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 upside down.

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. 


My dad and me in 1938, the year when he bought me my first train set


  The 'OO' gauge layout of the North London    Society of Model Engineers on display in the   Ewen Hall, High Barnet, in 1951 - Festival of Britain year

Click on the picture to view an enlargement


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