The day I received my Hornby 501 train set

I have always enjoyed Christmas and the magic of Christmas Day is still with me, writes Ian Holloway.

While I cannot recall each and every Christmas I am surprised at how much I can remember of one of my earliest Christmas Days even if some of the details leading up to it are now lost.

Fenwick in Newcastle is famed for its Christmas window displays. This year, not surprisingly, it has a Paddington theme!

I was very young when I became keen to own a Hornby O-gauge clockwork train set. I have no idea when I first saw one of these. It may have been in the toy display, which I shall describe presently.

At this time in my life locomotives were red, so far as I was concerned, and I do remember why. One of my favourite bedtime stories was from the book entitled The Story of the Little Red Engine, by the author Diana Ross, first published in 1945 and subsequently reprinted on numerous occasions.

The toy display I allude to was that within the famous department store of Fenwick, Newcastle.

The shop, which was founded in 1882, has since 1971 become well known for its huge Christmas window displays often with themes taken from fairy-tales and children’s stories. The lavish sets feature animated figures – this year it’s Paddington Bear.

These certainly draw in the crowds!

However Fenwick, much earlier than 1971, arranged a window display of toys and a large toy department filled with eye-catching goods to tempt the Christmas shopper and this, together with a grotto where children of my generation could meet Santa Claus, formed the basis for my special Christmas Day.

For the full article, see this month’s edition of Modelling – available now!
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