Christmas memories

A train set under the Christmas tree can sometimes be the start of a life-long hobby. In RMM’s November issue some readers and writers recollect their first model railways.

Ian Lamb, RMM writer: My childhood in the rough and tumble of Edinburgh in the 1950s meant regular Christmas shopping in Glasgow, especially spending most of the time in the large Lewis’s store (now Debenhams) in Argyle Street.

As a family, we children and parents would head off excitedly to Leith Central (now a large Tesco retail outlet) to board the train for Queen Street that had been stored overnight at the Leith terminus. Usually it was a Gresley V1/V3 2-6-2 tank loco that hauled the train up to the Waverley, where it was quickly changed for a 64B Haymarket A4 Pacific, to lead the 65-minute run through to Glasgow. This local link service continued until Leith Central was converted into a diesel depot.

Photograph from an in-house publication by British Railways to promote the success of the real LMS 10000, the model of which the boy is holding. I think this encompasses the true spirit of Christmas; the Santa sack, the apple and (of course) the loco model. The image is scanned from a magazine cutting I’ve had in my archives for more than 60 years. TAKEN FROM AUTHOR’S OWN COPY.

On that one major occasion in December 1954 I do recall my mother struggling with large boxes, eventually stacking the lot on top of her wardrobe. No lightweight plastic in these days. At that moment I did not realise it was my first Hornby Dublo train set. Until then I had enviously admired friends’ and relatives’ model railways, and could only hope that one day I might have my own.

Well 13 may be superstitious to some, but that was my age when I discovered the Hornby Dublo 3-Rail BR Standard 2-6-4 tank loco and three tin-plate suburban coaches at the foot of my bed on Christmas Day 1954.

I can’t remember my feelings and emotions of the time, but I do recall that at least two days had passed before I could really appreciate what I was now in possession of, as other family members and relatives all wanted to show me how to operate the set!

It was only recently that I found out from my elder brother that he and my beloved late elder sister had been asked to forego their Christmas presents in order that I could have a train set. Quite a humbling thought, but reflected the realities of postwar Britain.

All I can do now is simply hope that many youngsters will find themselves with a Bachmann, Dapol or traditional Hornby train set greeting them when they wake up on Christmas Day; the start of a life-long love of trains and railway modelling.

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

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