Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

It’s a broad church


Railway modellers are a funny bunch. They know what they want and can be vocal when something doesn’t meet their expectations. They can think their flavour is right and other flavours are wrong. And they can say what they think about the other flavours in a most detrimental light not realising that their comments are then used to apply to the whole not just the part they were slating. 

I was saddened last week to read a Facebook comment where someone belittled a model that a modeller had posted a picture of based on the type of construction the modeller used. “Why use that? Anyone can use brass with time and effort” or words to that effect. 

(C) Phil Parker

It’s such a shame that people think it’s ok to voice opinions like that because modelling has so many flavours and they are all acceptable. From the train set with Thomas galloping round at a million miles an hour to Pendon or the Gresley Beat, from the mighty Bron Hebog to a pizza layout, they are all built by people doing what they love and shouldn’t we embrace that whether that is our thing or not? 

For me personally I have some brass kits but they’re at the back of the cupboard awaiting the days when I have time and the mini-mes are more interested in chasing girls than trains. I have a mix of simpleton kits and a Backwoods Double Fairlie which won’t be attempted until I’ve learnt and have confidence – but that takes time, as the Facebook poster said, and I haven’t got that right now. 

(C) Rob Waller

In the meantime I’m happy to run whatever I get my hands on and whatever I can tweak to suit me. Operation is as important to me as the modelling. 

I have been fortunate enough to operate two railways on polar opposite ends of the scale. Firstly the 009 Dduallt which is a scenic masterpiece but is operated very much as a “run what you want” within the confines of the FR operating practice. 

(C) Rob Waller

Secondly Allan Garraway’s O gauge scratchbuilt layout in his loft – scratchbuilt locos and stock, working interlocking frames for both points and signals, bell codes, correct headlamps, and woe betide if you forget to put the tail lamp on the goods train preventing the signalman giving train out of section. But scenically bare- the stations have scenery but the runs between are totally bare. 

Both are a joy to behold and both provide hours of entertainment – I’ve operated both for a whole day and could have easily carried on into the night. They are poles apart but both delight. 

It’s a broad church this hobby of ours and we should embrace all of it not just our flavour; we might just learn something new. 


Author: Chris H

Having now officially reached middle age, I am a rolling stock engineer and have worked in many different locations including a 7 year spell in Sydney, Australia, where I arrived with a suitcase and left with a wife and a son. I am now based back in my home county of Yorkshire where I juggle full time work, being a Dad to two rascally mini-mes, and trying to fit in railway modelling, assisting the GWR 1014 County of Glamorgan project, and visits to the top left hand corner of Wales. In addition to my heavily railway themed life, I am interested in rugby, cricket, reading crime novels, falconry, and medieval re-enactments.

3 thoughts on “It’s a broad church

  1. Very well stated. I couldn’t agree more.

    I’ve read and heard similar comments. Why not focus on celebrating someone participating in the hobby or ask why they chose their approach? We insist on reducing the hobby to a shopping list of what’s currently fashionable and undermine its potential for providing a means to express our ideas and offers so many options for just how to do that. Anyone can use brass. It’s true. Does that mean we all have to?


    • Exactly. I love the options that we have now – brass, plastic, card, 3D, resin, r-t-r; they all have their place. We can do things that the modellers of 50 years ago could only dream of.

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