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Hundreds flock to model trains in Ipswich as hobby becomes popular

PUBLISHED: 19:30 09 November 2019

Peter Williamson and fellow modeller Paul Morris at Ipswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Peter Williamson and fellow modeller Paul Morris at Ipswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Ipswich's annual model railway exhibition brought hundreds of visitors to the town's Rushmere Hall Primary School on Saturday as the growing popularity of the hobby became clear.

Chelmsford Model Club's Haddon Bank layout was one of the most impressive at the Ipswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATERChelmsford Model Club's Haddon Bank layout was one of the most impressive at the Ipswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Building miniature trains is not childsplay with detail reproductions of well-known railway sites - and the construction of stations that were never actually thought of in real life.

There never were stations at Brent Eleigh or Stoke by Nayland except in the imagination of railway modellers - but they attracted impressed glances from the visitors to the show.

Where would a model rail exhibition be without Thomas? Picture: PAUL GEATERWhere would a model rail exhibition be without Thomas? Picture: PAUL GEATER

Railway modelling has recently been enjoying something of a renaissance - and even features in a popular show on Channel Five.

Show organiser Peter Williamson said the numbers had been increasing significantly year on year.

Ipswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich Model Railways' Association annual exhibition 2019. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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He said: "We got more last year than the previous year and I think this will be even better when we have counted everyone through the door.

Ipswich Model Engineering Society brought their miniature railway along to the exhibition. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich Model Engineering Society brought their miniature railway along to the exhibition. Picture: PAUL GEATER

"There has been a small increase in the number of people coming along to our regular meetings and more people are taking part in the hobby. I certainly think the television programme has helped with that."

Rail modelling has always been seen as a male preserve - but Mr Williamson said this was changing.

"We do have a number of women who are also coming along and one of our layouts here has been made by a couple who are members of the association."

Exhibitors and trade stands from across East Anglia and the south east had travelled to the exhibition which is one of the largest in the region and has been held at Rushmere Hall for several years.

As well as faithfully-recreated displays of rail stations, there were also fantasy layouts featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and Nonsuch - an imaginary Tudor-era railway with trains driven by mice!

As well as the displays to watch and the sales stalls selling everything from modelling equipment to railway books, there was the opportunity for adults and children to ride on a miniature rail track brought along by the Ipswich Model Engineers Society whose small version of British Railway's much-loved Western diesel was delighting adults and children in perfect weather.

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