Friday, 23 March 2012

The Old Days!

8404_smrs_expo_019 by nevardmedia
8404_smrs_expo_019, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Earlier today I decided to upload a few 35mm negative scans of toy chuffers taken between 1981 and 1984. Many of them were taken down the long gone Southampton Model Railway Society clubrooms at Sholing Railway Station which housed Newhampton, a huge OO gauge out and back and duck under Southampton Terminus inspired layout. I remember that the standard of modelling at the time was generally a cut above the norm, with the miniature portrayal of the real Southampton Terminus buildings being quite stunning. I believe this layout still exists in private ownership, but would love to know if it is still operational. Newhampton's legacy lives on with Romsey which is built to a similar standard, and only recently retired from the exhibition circuit.

Another nice little SMRS layout featured is Overcombe, a ficticious OO gauge 'could have been' branchline terminus up in the hills above Weymouth, I recall it even had a ball clay working. This layout I gather still exists too, and I wonder if the ball clay transfer shed is still in one piece that I built all those years ago? In those days I used kitchen foil that had been textured with a ball point pen in close parallel lines to create the effect of corrugated iron.

Most of the other photos were taken at various railway exhibitions in the south-east, with the pinnacle seeing Chiltern Green & Luton Hoo in N gauge & 2 mm scale by The Model Railway Club at the IMREX event at Wembley in 1984. This layout really was impressive, and it was the first time I ever saw handbuilt 9mm gauge finescale track which looked incredibly fine and delicate. I've no idea if this layout still exists, but I believe this showing at IMREX was its last.

If anyone can add anything to the captions feel free, you can reply here, or if a Flickr member comment on the photograps directly. Some of the captions I admit are a bit of guesswork, and of course traditional film doesn't contain EXIF data like a digital photo for dating purposes!


  1. Grainy black and white photos, tank tops, sports jackets and sensible haircuts-nostalgia is as good as I thought it was. Did you like the smell of the Railway Modeller? I still have a few old copies and the Model Railway News, and taking them out of the box brings a whiff of paper and ink that attacks the olfactory system and takes me back to those simpler times. Sniff, wipes a tear.

  2. Interesting,
    I wonder if the old guy with glasses still exists!!??
    OR if the youth operating the controls still builds model railways?

    Cheers Chris as always your blog is a good read and entertaining!
    Frank (aka Dukedog on RMWeb)

  3. 'Youf' is still very much around, I still see him from time to time and he looks just the same almost 30 years on. Now he is a middle aged man. As for the old boy who I recall was hugely entertaining, I have no idea. He used to be a British Transport Policeman and had many great stories to tell. If he is still around I imagine he would be in his late 80's or early 90's.

  4. About Chiltern Green and Luton Hoo -

    I first saw this at an expo in Westminster Hall and I think it was 'under construction'. The finished layout was I believe the largest and most finely detailed n gauge layout of the time and featured in Railway Modeller (of course). The layout found a permanent home in a toy and model museum that was/is housed in a country house, possibly in Somerset. Long time ago so I'm unsure but I did visit the museum. I remember the layout was housed in an outbuilding and as the only visitor to it at that monent in time the operator ran the trains just for me! It was impressive.

    As a long time 00 gauge modeller I never imagined that today I would be involved in an 'n' gauge project over at

  5. 'Familiar' layout is North London Group's 'Bodmin'. Still shown from time to time.


All posts will be approved before they go live, posts from spammers will be deleted and marked as spam.