Lit­tle trains at­tract big crowds

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - JA­NINE RANKIN

While wild weather put a damp­ener on steam train rides out­doors, more than 1000 peo­ple took shel­ter in Bar­ber Hall dur­ing the week­end to be­come im­mersed in the fan­tasy world of model rail­ways.

Manawatu Model Rail­way Club sec­re­tary John Sib­bald said club mem­bers and ex­hibitors were heart­ened to see so many young peo­ple en­joy­ing the Rail-X show.

‘‘Per­haps be­cause Sun­day was such a wet day, peo­ple felt they had to take the kids some­where.’’

Aged 70 him­self, he said the club’s old­est ac­tive mem­ber was 82, most of the youngest were in their late 30s, and they were all keen to pass on their skills to school-aged boys and girls.

‘‘Get­ting younger peo­ple in­ter­ested in mod­el­ling is difficult, with all these com­put­ers around,’’ Sib­bald said.

‘‘But then, when some young­sters see the hands-on work we do, they re­ally do get in­ter­ested. ‘‘It’s a good show­case for our hobby.’’ The club’s cen­tre­piece for the ex­hi­bi­tion was As­ton Heath, a fic­ti­tious area in the Mid­lands with its sta­tion and vil­lage, tun­nels and hills.

It is a project that is still un­der de­vel­op­ment, cun­ningly mounted in units that can be quickly dis­man­tled, trans­ported and put back to­gether for dis­play.

As­ton Heath was roughly set in the 1950s, but Sib­bald said some of the en­gines that ran on its tracks were not true to the era.

But then, it was an imag­i­nary land­scape, ‘‘and it’s a fun hobby’’.

The club had cre­ated sev­eral lay­outs over the years, built by mem­bers on club nights, work­ing week­ends, and some­times at home.

They work with metal, wood and plas­tic, with op­tions for as­sem­bling kit­sets, through to cre­at­ing whole land­scapes from scratch.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a joint ef­fort with the Euro­pean Model Rail­way Club and Scale Rails.

One of the an­chor ex­hibitors was the Palmer­ston North Model En­gi­neer­ing Club and Feilding Steam Rail, which ran train rides out­side in the car park on Satur­day, but not on Sun­day when the weather was deemed to be too rough.

Ex­hibitors and trade ex­hibitors came from Tau­ranga, Welling­ton and the lower North Is­land.

PHO­TOS: DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Noah Clapham, 3, and El­liot Parr, 3, watch closely as the model train goes around the track.

Sherry Joe, An­drew Joe and Jay­den Joe, 3, ab­sorbed in the model rail­way world cre­ated at Rail-X.

Kee­gan Jor­dan-John­son, 5, ex­am­ines the dis­play.

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