Little trains attract big crowds
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.
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.