Wel­come to Model rail

Model Rail (UK) - - Front Page - Richard Fos­ter

The ap­peal of the past never fluc­tu­ates. Our de­sire to find out how things used to be is as strong to­day as it was 100 years ago. It’s ar­guably stronger to­day in fact, as tech­no­log­i­cal changes not only en­able us to an­a­lyse his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence with greater ac­cu­racy, but also be­cause as tech­nol­ogy de­vel­ops, many of us feel the urge to re­treat to a sim­pler, less com­pli­cated world.

Time travel is a pop­u­lar sub­ject for film­mak­ers and novelists as they ful­fil the hu­man dream to be able to go back to the past; ar­chae­ol­o­gists and palaeon­tol­o­gists spend their lives look­ing at his­tor­i­cal re­mains to bet­ter un­der­stand the past. Even physi­cists act as his­to­ri­ans as they try to piece to­gether the ori­gins of the uni­verse.

Build­ings can tell us so much about hu­man his­tory - as well as leav­ing us with many unan­swered ques­tions. We can only marvel at Egyp­tian pyra­mids, the spec­tac­u­lar Inca ru­ins at Machu Pic­chu or even our very own Stone­henge. But how were they built?

These are par­tic­u­larly fa­mous ex­am­ples, but we can very of­ten find in­trigu­ing his­tor­i­cal build­ings on our own doorsteps. There’s some­thing very spe­cial and some­how com­fort­ing about know­ing that your lo­cal pub or church was on that site cen­turies be­fore you ex­isted, and will re­main there long af­ter you’re gone.

Chris Leigh, with the help of his son James, has put to­gether a guide to iden­ti­fy­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural styles of times past, not only to help you date build­ings but also to give your lay­out some his­tory. A Saxon arch here or a Tu­dor win­dow there will give your lay­out some­thing ex­tra - a sense of depth.

His­tor­i­cal build­ings play key roles on Mike’s and Chris’ project lay­outs and they act as a mi­cro­cosm of the wide in­ter­ests that we rail­way mod­ellers have in the past. Chris has gone for a cas­tle, the clas­sic build­ing of times past, as it con­jures up im­ages of kings and knights, bat­tles and courtly love.

Cas­tles pretty much went one of two ways: they were ei­ther left in ru­ins or were re­stored by well mean­ing Vic­to­ri­ans. Chris’ take on a 13th cen­tury Welsh cas­tle has been ‘sym­pa­thet­i­cally’ re­stored.

Mike’s in­ter­est is al­most at the op­po­site end of the spec­trum: the Sec­ond World War. It’s strange to com­pre­hend that this event, which had such far-reach­ing reper­cus­sions, is still within liv­ing mem­ory. We’ll never truly know how the sol­diers gar­risoned in Chris’ cas­tle be­haved, but Mike has a truly vast re­source to aid the con­struc­tion of what prom­ises to be a very in­trigu­ing model rail­way.

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