Crowds of people have been flocking to Uckfield Civic Centre today as the town’s model railway club exhibition gets under way and about 2,000 are expected to call in over the weekend.
One of the attractions is the latest layout from Gordon Gravett and enthusiasts are travelling from across the country to see his Arun Quay – one visitor this morning came from Sheffield to see it at the earliest opportunity.
Gordon, and his wife Maggie, who helps with construction, have bookings running through to 2022 with this layout.
Their last layout, a French one called Pempoul took 17 years to build. They were quicker this time because some parts had previously been used in another Sussex layout Ditchling Green.
Everything that can be seen – bar the people – is hand-made, including the locomotives and the wagons, and the couple are known to work to the highest of standards hence the special interest in their work.
Uckfield Model Railway Club was founded by president Roger Bradgate in his front room in 1972.
A photographer was there taking pictures of his baby daughter for a local newspaper competition and when he heard about train layouts in the garden shed asked to photograph those too.
At the time Roger was a fireman working at the old fire station in Keld Avenue and that was where club members first met, having come together because of the publicity.
Now they meet at premises in Framfield Road where the late Keith Nock – who was involved with the club for many years – used to run a model shop. His family are allowing the club to continue there and Roger said they were very grateful to them.
Roger and one of the club’s newest members Fred Carter said today’s model railways are much finer and more detailed than they were when the club was first formed.
Many club members now use a digital command instead of an old analogue system – but Roger is upholding tradition.
He told Uckfield News: “There were no computers in my working life or when I had my first train set for Christmas in 1959 and my sets are still analogue.”
A layout Roger remembers from a previous show was brought by an exhibitor from Holland. A swan came out of reeds, snaked across the water, circled under a bridge and came back into the reeds. Electro-magnets were responsible for the magic.
Also intriguing in the same layout was the way seagulls circled overhead – the exhibitor eventually revealed he had separated one strand from a piece of dental floss and the seagulls were dangling on this from a camshaft. It could not be seen however hard people looked.
Uckfield Model Railway Club exhibition will be open today and tomorrow at Uckfield Civic Centre from 10am to 5pm.
More Uckfield News pictures from the exhibition can be seen below.
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