When I think back, my model railway journey began when I was given a Hornby Dublo 3-rail train as a boy, back in the 1960’s. It wasn’t a large set, only having enough track for a small oval with a side spur. It had 2 locomotives, a Castle class and an A4 class, and 2 passenger carriages.
I must have really enjoyed that train set, because in later life when I came across it at my parent’s house my Dad advised me it didn’t work anymore – both locomotives were burnt out, but fortunately it hadn’t been thrown away.
I started wondering if it would be possible to repair the trains for “old times sake”, and so sometime in the 1980’s or early 1990’s I began searching on the internet to see if there was any information that would help with this. My searching led me to a web site by a Hornby Dublo enthusiast Bill Mudie who was not very far away from where my parent’s house was. Contact was made, and we arranged to visit Bill one night, so my Dad and I went along with my 2 trains. Bill was most generous, showing us his large Dublo layout, and he also offered to repair the trains for me. After a short period of time he contacted me, and another visit to his house ensued. He showed me my 2 trains running around his layout and I was really pleased that they were once again in working order. I still have those Hornby Dublo trains and parts, they still work, and I get them out of storage every so often to reminisce. The image at the top of this page shows one of these trains against an equivalent N Scale locomotive (both a Castle class locomotives with similar passenger carriages).
Of course, even though these trains were now working again (as wonderful as it was), this didn’t satisfy my desire to have a model railway layout of my own. At this point in our lives we were paying a mortgage (anyone remember the 15% or more interest rates in the 1990’s?) and starting a family, so actually starting a model railway layout was not a viable option. However the bug never quite left me. Every so often over the years I would attend a model railway exhibition put on by one group or another, always loving the detail displayed in these miniature worlds, and admiring the skills of the people who created them. These occasional forays into the model railway world kept my desire alive, even if the ability to actually participate with my own layout was still not realistic for one reason or another.
Years later when I began my retirement, I felt the time was right to see about creating my own model railway layout. I had the time, and felt that it would be something I would finally get to try out and hopefully enjoy. After all, I had been wanting to do this for so long I was slightly apprehensive that my hopes would not be met once I started on this project.
I’m pleased to say though that I have not been disappointed, and I really enjoy the multi-disciplined aspect of creating my own model railway layout. Carpentry, track planning and laying, electrical wiring, artistic aspects such as scenery, and PC integration are some of the areas involved. I have chosen to create a complete layout with scenery, lighting and sounds, as opposed to just putting down some pieces of track and running a train around. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with putting down track and running trains on the dining room table, and I still do that myself on occasions if I need to test something out. Model trains can be as simple or complex as the user wants, making them appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Some people go all out, and create almost perfect reproductions of specific locations and eras with their layouts. Whatever gives the user enjoyment is the right thing for each one of us.
So now here I am, jotting down thoughts and information I have obtained since starting my own layout, and I hope it helps others take the step to trying out model railroading for themselves.