Crowds flock to Dereham model railway show

The model railway exhibition at Dereham Memorial Hall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The model railway exhibition at Dereham Memorial Hall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dereham was transformed into a bustling railway town once more, albeit one in miniature, as it held its 17th model train exhibition.

There were layouts large and small crammed into the Memorial Hall - along with more engines and accessories than you could blow a whistle at.

Rosemary Cooper, from the Mid Norfolk Railway, said: 'We've got a good crowd here. It's a pity there isn't anywhere in Dereham they could form a model railway club.

'There are several people who have layouts. It would be nice if someone offered a nice well-heated barn they could go in.'

Peter Willis, from Norwich, presided over the giant Hornby Dublo layout he has been collecting since receiving a train set for Christmas in 1952.

More than 25 locomotives and 200 coaches and wagons circled its ovals of track named Binns Road, after the factory where Hornby built models for generations. The vintage layout takes four people to operate and keep its trains running on the right lines.

At the other end of the scale, Graham and Caroline Watling, from Costessey, were exhibiting the finely-detailed narrow-gauge layout which took them nine months to build.

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A tiny heron stood by a resin stream, while tiny rabbits hopped in the fields beside the tracks.

'I'm not interested in the trains, I just like doing the scenery,' said Mrs Watling.

Mr Watling said the layout was the 16th the couple had built since becoming interested in the hobby in the 1980s.

Realism was taken to even greater extremes on Coastal Digital Command Control's stand. The Ipswich-based firm builds computerised control systems for driving trains, which provide authentic sounds.

Enthusiast Nigel Locke, who was helping out on the stand, said: 'In the old days, you had 12V DC, the further you turned the knob, the faster it would go. This is completely different.'

Mr Locke, 65, added the system, where a £130 chip is fitted to each engine, enabled multiple trains to be controlled at a time. But he declined to speculate how much he had spent installing it in his own engines.

'I'd rather not keep count to be honest,' he said. 'A lot of money, a few thousand.'

Retired railway signal engineer Roger Kingstone, 74, from Norwich, was displaying a selection of steam locomotives scratch-built from sheet brass and white metal. He admitted to spending months, even years perfecting every detail.

'I've got no idea why I do it, I just enjoy it,' he said. 'I've been modelling since I left school.'

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