Layouts we love: Famous trains at Derby – three days a week!

Colin Boocock, president of the Famous Trains layout at Markeaton Park in Derby, relates the achievements of a novel idea – a model railway charity open to the public!

Visitors to Derby’s most popular park, Markeaton Park on the north-west side of the city, can come into the Famous Trains building and see 00 and other scale trains running every Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 11am and 4pm.

The centrepiece of the exhibition area is a large 00-scale model railway based on Derbyshire’s Chinley station in the 1950s and 60s, when four main line tracks ran through it as well as loop lines and a freight yard.

The Darley Green branch terminus layout was built by members in 2012, and toured modelling exhibitions. It represents an imaginary Derbyshire village station and yard, and the level of scenic detail sets the standard that will eventually be achieved on the Chinley layout after several more years’ work! All photos: Colin Boocock

One main line was that from London St Pancras to Manchester Central via Derby, and the other was, and is, the Hope Valley line from Sheffield to Manchester. The station was busy with interconnecting passenger trains and heavy freights, and this is reflected in the model railway.

In late 2006 Peter Stanton and I, who were both retired railway engineers, started looking for a site where we could build a large model railway that could be opened to the public. We found an ideal semi-derelict building in Markeaton Park, and when we contacted Derby City Council, unprompted they suggested the exact same building!

A visit to Famous Trains makes the perfect family day out – and the scenery is wonderful.

We drew up designs for a model railway with four continuous main line tracks that would occupy much of the 22-metre building. It would need a new roof and lots of money spent on it, but hopefully this would come from grant funders such as the Big Lottery Fund.

The group gained registered charity status in October 2008 because it planned to train volunteers in useful skills and educate the public with displays explaining the historical importance of Derby as a railway centre, and of the railways in the development of the Derbyshire limestone industry.

When a report in a model railway magazine in 2010 about the aspirations of Famous Trains reached Derek Chandley, an enthusiast in Australia who was planning to dismantle his large 00-scale model railway and rebuild it in 0-gauge, he offered our charity his unwanted but relatively new 00 layout, insisting that if we wanted it, we’d have to visit his other house, which was in Derbyshire, take the model railway apart and remove it.

For the full article and to view more images, see the July edition of Modelling – available now!

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