New Show for the Capital

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Model Railway Exhibition returns to Edinburgh after many years

Back-to-back announcements in early 2024 about the closure of Hattons, a well-known Merseyside model shop, and that the Warley Model Railway Club (MRC) would no longer be arranging an annual exhibition at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), led some newspapers to paint a downbeat picture of railway modelling as a hobby. However, the hobby is far from decline in Central Scotland.

In 2023, Rainbow Railways, arranged a new show in Linlithgow focussing on N gauge, while the Pentland Model Railway Group (MRG) arranged the inaugural Lothians Model Railway Show at Dalmahoy. Both events had successful second shows last month. Brian Thomson, Exhibition Manager for Pentland MRG, said, “This year’s show was very successful, with attendance up on last year. Now it’s onwards and upwards to 2025”. Pentland MRG have now announced they are moving to a larger venue at Heriot Watt University Student Union for their third show, which will be held on 12 and 13 April 2025.

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Continuing this trend, the Edinburgh and Lothians Miniature Railway Club (E&LMRC), will be holding their first model railway exhibition for many years in the Senior School Assembly Hall at George Watson’s College, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5EG on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June 2024.

Oil train passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch BridgeOil train passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch Bridge
Oil train passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch Bridge

This new exhibition will be open between 10 am and 5 pm each day and will feature 13 layouts from across Scotland in five different scales/gauges. Six traders and two societies are also supporting this new venture. The club’s secretary said, “I’m grateful to all our traders for their support and confidence in helping launch this new exhibition in Edinburgh. This has allowed us to create a fun day out for collectors, enthusiasts, and families alike, with something on offer for all ages and interests”. Two of those traders are Linlithgow based Rainbow Railways and Dunfermline based Lathalmond Models.

Colin Rae, one of the directors of Rainbow Railways, said, “it’s been a very busy few years for us building up our business in Linlithgow and expanding our local and national show calendar, which we support and attend”. He added, “The number of Model Rail Exhibitions in central Scotland has never been stronger, with great exhibits on show for those looking for a fun day out. It’s also great to see an exhibition return to Edinburgh and we are very pleased to be a part of this return”.

Ross Cameron, owner of Lathalmond Models, said, “it’s great to be able to support the Edinburgh & Lothians Miniature Railway Club to bring a great hobby nearly back into the centre of the city and show that it’s for all ages and can suit all budgets and levels of modelling. The friendships built and memories from these shows is priceless, seeing smiles on faces from the elderly to the young. This is just how I felt when I was young, and this hobby is still very much alive. My advice would be to join a local club, there are many throughout Scotland, and all are looking to help and inspire our new modellers. As a trader we have a selection of models to suit all ages and budget, so please come along, enjoy the layouts, and speak to the clubs who will be more than happy to help”.

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There will be a chance to operate one of the layouts yourself thanks to the Dundee Model Railway Club, who will be bringing Dain’s Yard: a small layout to allow you to practise your shunting skills.

The station building at Tulloch BridgeThe station building at Tulloch Bridge
The station building at Tulloch Bridge

The venue is fully accessible for all and there will be an on-site café serving a selection of hot and cold food and drinks to allow you to make this a great day out. There will also be a raffle with over £400 worth of models from Popup Designs and Rapido Trains UK as prizes, with the star prize being a Great Eastern Railway tram pack – will you be the lucky winner? The prototype was the inspiration for Toby the Tram Engine in the books about Thomas the Tank Engine: a character known to and loved by millions.

Tickets can be purchased on the day at a cost of £8 for Adults (16+), £3 for Children (5-15), and a Family ticket (2+2) will cost £18. However, advanced tickets can be purchased on-line at a discounted price through https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/elmrc until 31st May 2024.

Full details of the layouts and traders that will be attending are on the club’s website at https://elmrc.org.uk/elmrc-exhibition/, but photographs of three of the layouts that will be on display are shown below.

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Tulloch Bridge – Inspired by the West Highland Line in the period 2004-12 presented by Martin Stewart from Scottish Modellers

Caledonian Sleeper passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch BridgeCaledonian Sleeper passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch Bridge
Caledonian Sleeper passes a passenger train to Fort William at Tulloch Bridge

‘Tulloch Bridge’ is the work of Martin Stewart, a talented Midlothian railway modeller, who has built a highly detailed model of a typical station on the picturesque West Highland Railway to a scale of 1:76, the most popular scale for model railways. The model features bespoke items made using both 3D printing and laser cutting technologies and is operated using models of the trains that traversed the line between the years 2004 and 2012. Although Martin has exhibited his layout at several model railway exhibitions since he completed it in 2022, June 2024 will be the first opportunity that the public will have to view this excellent layout in Edinburgh.

United Mills – Scottish industrial yard in the 1950s/60s presented by Ray Nolton from the East of Scotland 4mm Group.

‘United Mills’ is the work of Ray Nolton, a member of the Scalefour Society’s East of Scotland 4mm Group, who has built a highly detailed model of a typical rail served Scottish industrial site, as it might have looked in the 1950s/60s. Although Ray has also adopted a scale of 1:76, all of Ray’s track has been hand built and uses an accurate track gauge for the scale, without some of the compromises of ready to run models.

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Eastern Steel and Iron – A North American industrial site in the 1950/60s presented by members of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire District Model Railway Club.

United MillsUnited Mills
United Mills

‘Eastern Steel and Iron’ is the work of a group of members of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire District Model Railway Club to present a condensed snapshot of the iron making stages of a large integrated steel plant somewhere in the northeastern United States. The layout features a blast furnace and coking plant, power plant, coke load-out, ore grading and sintering, coal tar by-products, engineering shop and background buildings representing an open-hearth steel plant and rolling mills.

The club secretary said, “we hope all of the layouts provide inspiration to all budding modellers”.

If you are interested in taking up the hobby, membership of the Edinburgh and Lothians MRC is open to all, regardless of specific interests and abilities, and new members are always welcome. The club was founded in 1951 and has been supporting railway modelling in the capital for 73 years.

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