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Small aboard! Town celebrates model railway exhibition

PUBLISHED: 15:42 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:22 07 March 2019

Richard Doe, pictured at the Bredgar and Wormshill Railway in Kent in May 2018. Picture: Contributed by Richard Doe

Richard Doe, pictured at the Bredgar and Wormshill Railway in Kent in May 2018. Picture: Contributed by Richard Doe

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Loco-lovers descended on Beccles for the Norfolk and Suffolk Narrow Gauge Modellers exhibition.

Tim Williams brought his 009 Welsh slate quarry themed 'Chwarel Tegid' layout from Birmingham. Picture: Contributed by Richard DoeTim Williams brought his 009 Welsh slate quarry themed 'Chwarel Tegid' layout from Birmingham. Picture: Contributed by Richard Doe

The event saw more than 200 people visit the fifth open day and exhibition at Blyburgate Hall on Saturday, March 2.

For this year’s show, the group added a fourth room spanning across two buildings making it the largest show to date.

Thirteen narrow gauge model railway layouts were displayed, with some model railway enthusiasts travelling across the country to share their creations.

On the day, the group held its annual challenge competition which was judged by the public. The challenge was to build a narrow gauge railway vehicle using a die-cast road vehicle or vehicles.

John Dean from Hertfordshire showed his O.16.5 layout 'Grange West Tramway'. Picture: Contributed by Richard DoeJohn Dean from Hertfordshire showed his O.16.5 layout 'Grange West Tramway'. Picture: Contributed by Richard Doe

Six members of the group entered the challenge, the winner was a Fordson tractor locomotive by Chris Seago, followed by the diesel mobile refreshment van by Graham Watling and third place was narrow gauge tram by Stuart Hughes.

After the Beast from the East swept through the region, organisers were forced to cancel the winter event last year and reschedule to September.

The autumn event saw nearly 300 people pass through Blyburgate Hall for the event - the largest turnout for the event yet.

Richard Doe, from Beccles who is a member of the modeller’s group, said: “It is a very popular hobby - it is also very specialised. We were the first group to have an exhibition in Norfolk and Suffolk.”

Lyn and Jim Owers travelled up from the Isle Of White to display their 009 layout 'Woolthorpe Light Railway'. Picture: Contributed Richard DoeLyn and Jim Owers travelled up from the Isle Of White to display their 009 layout 'Woolthorpe Light Railway'. Picture: Contributed Richard Doe

The 43-year-old said the activity is popular with all ages after the Great Model Railway Challenge aired on Channel 5 last year.

As well as the television series, Mr Doe said the advancements in technology are attracting new model fans.

“In the past, it has been spoken about in a derogatory way but it is becoming more mainstream now,” he said.

There are around 20 members in the group who travel across the country exhibit their model trains.

Mr Doe said he has travelled to Wales, Oxfordshire, Mansfield and Bedfordshire for events.

The enthusiast said biggest turnout he has seen was in Birmingham for the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition - where 10,000 fans came together in awe of the model railways.

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