Wednesday, May 7, 2014
For most people, a miniature railway conjures up nostalgic images of a childhood spent playing with model trains.
But three generations of the same family have turned a hobby into a new business, building what is said to be the largest model railway in the UK.
With five displays, ranging from a traditional British countryside scenes to a Japanese city-scape, it took 3,000 feet of track to create Wroxham Miniature World in Hoveton.
And with cities, mountains, waterfalls, snow-covered villages and desert racetracks, the ambitious project took Ray, Sean and Robert Green 25,000 hours, two years and £500,000 to construct.
For Sean, 45, who runs a family coach business with his dad Ray, it was a labour of love, with hours spent constructing the 75,000 brick Lego display and laying tracks.
Working 100 hours a week for three years, he said the railway harked back to a time before computers were part of everyday life.
He said: “It is nice for people to show their children what they used to play with as a child.
“It allows people to experience that warm feeling they once had when playing with their toys.”
Sean said the indoor railway went hand-in-hand with Norfolk’s rich railway heritage, with the Bure Valley Railway steam train from Aylsham to Wroxham close by.
And the complex operating system which keeps the trains running smoothly is monitored under the watchful eye of the youngest Green, Sean’s 24-year-old son Robert.
Robert promised the indoor railway would continue to evolve, with models and animations being added constantly.
He said: “We didn’t want to complete everything because we would never have opened, and we want to give people a reason to come back.”
And with a sixth display in construction, visitors will be able to watch how the vast miniature railway is created.
Already popular with visitors, Derek Cate, 74, of Hellesdon has already been to the miniature world three times.
He said: “I admire the engines and the design, they look wonderful. You can look at it again and again and see something different each time.”
In addition to the railway display, the tourist attraction also features a large display of Sindy dolls, and a selection of traditional childhood toys and models, a cafe and shop.
The railway has been open for previews during April, but it was officially opened by North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.
Wroxham Miniature World is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm during school terms and seven days a week in school holidays. Last admission 4pm. For more information visit www.wroxhamminiatureworlds.co.uk
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