UK’s largest model railway display ready for opening in Hoveton

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 February 2014

Model Railway Museum in Hoveton as it was taking shape last year. Project leader Sean Green.

Model Railway Museum in Hoveton as it was taking shape last year. Project leader Sean Green. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

The family who run one of Norfolk’s largest coach businesses are preparing to take the wraps off their new venture - Wroxham Miniature Worlds.

Sean Green, his father Ray and brother Mark, all directors of Semmence Coaches in Wymondham and Ambassador Travel in Great Yarmouth, have been leading the development of what is billed as the UK’s largest indoor railway adventure.

After more than two years of design and construction work, involving the laying of nearly 3,000ft of track, the Broads’ newest attraction will open opposite Wroxham station, in Hoveton, on April 4.

The family have invested more than £500,000 in the venture, which was the dream of Sean, 45, whose passion for modelling was born during a visit to Great Yarmouth’s model village as an eight-year-old.

Sean’s son Robert, 23, has been involved from the outset and staff from the coach business have also been drafted in to help, including Keith Wakefield, who drives a school bus morning and afternoon and builds models during the day.

Sean said: “It fits well with the coach group as that is busiest during term-time and the attraction will be busiest during the holidays. It means we will be able to provide full-time work for more staff.”

His father said: “We hope to attract 40 to 50,000 visitors a year but it will be all down to the public.

“As well as visitors to Wroxham we hope the local population will support us; we have been supporting the community by using local suppliers as much as possible.”

He said they would be launching the museum with about 10 staff but it was likely that number would increase sharply when they progressed from four days a week to seven day opening in May.

The rail displays include a European scene - the largest HO scale layout on public show in the UK - sweeping from a busy city, complete with moving cars and trucks, past a castle into the mountains.

There is also an OO scale layout capturing British scenery and an N scale Japanese layout featuring the famous Bullet trains.

Visitors to the museum, developed on part of the site of Eric Bates and Sons furniture business, will be able to see up to 28 locomotives running at any one time.

The attraction, which will have a cafe and model shop, also features a large Scalextric layout, a massive Lego display built with more than 75,000 bricks and the largest ever collection of Sindy dolls to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Sean said: “We have aimed to create a smorgasbord of attractions so there is something for everyone and people won’t get bored.”

He said they were giving over a section of the museum to collections donated by the public.

“We want to give a chance to people to display their treasures that might have been gathering dust in attics,” he said.

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