What Made Me Become

a Railway Modeller

A Reprint of an Article in The Coupling of May 1999 - by Mark Stapleton

It started with my grandmother in Jersey sending Tri-ang train sets to me here in Canada for Christmas.

The first one was the Connie 0-4-0 set with a ring of Super 4 track, 2 wagons and a brake van; the next year, it was the Engineering Dept. set with the Jinty and crane. I still get a feeling of excitement when I see those red boxes with the yellow tissue paper.

I always liked the sound that the little 4 wheel wagons made while hurtling around the layout behind the churning 0-4-0 at a scale 300 mph, wheels sparking.

My older brother (who had Canadian Tri-ang), and I had an 8 x 4 baseboard in the basement for the trains, and with our boxes of Airfix soldiers mixed in gave us hours of pleasure. Somewhere along the way my Gran sent a Minic car set with the level crossing, and this was used to push the enemy soldiers into the oncoming train using the cars.

We continued with this mix of UK and Canadian Tri-ang until my brother came back from his first year of school in the Isle of Wight. He announced that all the North American equipment had to go (and the soldiers!), so we swapped it for a bunch of British Tri-ang at the local hobby shop.

Sometime that summer, we discovered that another local hobby shop carried Model Railways and Railway Modeller. The April 72 Model Railways showed me a whole world of British model trains that I did not know existed. It also had an interesting article on ProtoFour.

Soon I was on my way detailing my rolling stock, changing the wheels and learning the tricks of building kits, both plastic and whitemetal. I was becoming a railway modeller, of the LMS variety.

Why LMS? Well, the Flying Scotsman that I wanted (I went on the footplate when it visited Montreal during the North American tour in the late 60 s) turned into a Princess by the time Gran ordered it for my Christmas present.

Through an advert in Railway Modeller, I contacted the BRMNA in Ottawa and connected with other British modellers, discovering that my efforts were on par with most of those around me. All I had to compare to previously were the magazines that I had been collecting and emulating.

The influence that turned me into a 'real modeller' was MRJ #9, the Scalefour edition. (Does this mean that modellers of OO are not real? You tell me.*) The wheels and gauge just 'look' right. I joined the Scalefour Society and sold off my OO that could not be easily converted.

I decided at the time that I would not have room for a large layout for some time so P4 was ideal. Lots of details, a small amount of well-detailed rolling stock, S&DJR/LMS, life would be grand.

Then I got married.

Life was still grand, but with a lot less modelling. Now that I am a father, I m finally (but slowly) building that layout, my 6-year-old daughter wants to paint the farm animals, and my 4- year-old son is looking for some Airfix soldiers.

(* Here is my opening shot. If you build your trains, then you are a modeller, if you buy them you are a merely a collector. :))

© Mark Stapleton - 1999

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April 2001