Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

And the next stop is… in 200ft! Man recreates rail junction into Britain’s biggest model railway

3

As a boy, Simon George loved watching the trains rumble past at the busy railway junction in a hamlet near his home.

He spent long days during his school holidays in the early 1980s, from the age of 12 to 15, sitting on embankments or perched on footbridges over the tracks at Heaton Lodge Junction, just west of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, as he marvelled at the sights, sounds and power of the locomotives and goods wagons loaded with coal and steel.

It was, he says, his favourite place, and — despite growing up to run a successful supercar driving experience company and own a Lamborghini himself — the happy memories of those innocent days, and the excitement he felt at seeing a train emerge from way down the tracks and waiting to see exactly which type it was, never left him.

So Simon, 52, decided to recreate the scene, as exactly as possible, in scale model form.

Simon George, 52, (pictured) has created what is said to be Britain’s biggest model railway by recreating the Heaton Lodge Junction in West Yorkshire

As a boy, Simon George (left) loved watching the trains rumble past at the busy railway junction in a hamlet near his home

As a boy, Simon George (left) loved watching the trains rumble past at the busy railway junction in a hamlet near his home

The real life inspiration: Simon spent long days during his school holidays in the early 1980s, from the age of 12 to 15, sitting on embankments or perched on footbridges over the tracks at Heaton Lodge Junction, just west of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, (pictured) as he marvelled at the sights, sounds and power of the locomotives and goods wagons loaded with coal and steel

The real life inspiration: Simon spent long days during his school holidays in the early 1980s, from the age of 12 to 15, sitting on embankments or perched on footbridges over the tracks at Heaton Lodge Junction, just west of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, (pictured) as he marvelled at the sights, sounds and power of the locomotives and goods wagons loaded with coal and steel

It was, he says, his favourite place, and ¿ despite growing up to run a successful supercar driving experience company and own a Lamborghini himself ¿ the happy memories of those innocent days, and the excitement he felt at seeing a train emerge from way down the tracks and waiting to see exactly which type it was, never left him

It was, he says, his favourite place, and — despite growing up to run a successful supercar driving experience company and own a Lamborghini himself — the happy memories of those innocent days, and the excitement he felt at seeing a train emerge from way down the tracks and waiting to see exactly which type it was, never left him

Now, more than seven years on, and after laying 2½ miles of O gauge track, taking pains to get houses, factories — and even individual trees and manhole covers in the roads — in the right place, installing 10,000 individual bracken ferns and other exact replica features of the landscape, his masterpiece is 199ft 8in long, 40ft wide, and is said to be Britain’s biggest model railway.

He was — ‘luckily’, he laughs — single when he began. ‘I would’ve been divorced if I wasn’t! It was a long process,’ he adds. He has since become engaged to Marie Oakley, 38. ‘I didn’t tell her about the railway for a few weeks because I thought she’d run away screaming,’ he said. ‘But she was very impressed. She’s interested in art and viewed it very much like a painting but in 3-D.’

Simon sold his 50 per cent share in the events firm in 2018 to concentrate on his railway full-time and turn it into a business. Along the way, it cost around £250,000 to make — helped by sponsorship from Danish model railway company Heljan.

Since then, he has spent up to 12 hours a day building the model, which sits on more than 100 5ft interlocking boards. He had to rent a basement in an old factory after it outgrew his garage, spilled over into a spare bedroom and finally became too big for his home altogether.

Time flies by when you¿re the driver of a train: Simon at the controls of his huge, 200ft masterpiece

Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train: Simon at the controls of his huge, 200ft masterpiece

More than seven years on, and after laying 2½ miles of O gauge track, taking pains to get houses, factories ¿ and even individual trees and manhole covers in the roads ¿ in the right place, installing 10,000 individual bracken ferns and other exact replica features of the landscape, his masterpiece is 199ft 8in long, 40ft wide

More than seven years on, and after laying 2½ miles of O gauge track, taking pains to get houses, factories — and even individual trees and manhole covers in the roads — in the right place, installing 10,000 individual bracken ferns and other exact replica features of the landscape, his masterpiece is 199ft 8in long, 40ft wide

Simon sold his 50 per cent share in the events firm in 2018 to concentrate on his railway full-time and turn it into a business. Along the way, it cost around £250,000 to make ¿ helped by sponsorship from Danish model railway company Heljan

Simon sold his 50 per cent share in the events firm in 2018 to concentrate on his railway full-time and turn it into a business. Along the way, it cost around £250,000 to make — helped by sponsorship from Danish model railway company Heljan

Roll out the barrel: British Rail engineers have a chat by two discarded oil drums. They are just some of the many decorations Simon has created in his model recreation

Roll out the barrel: British Rail engineers have a chat by two discarded oil drums. They are just some of the many decorations Simon has created in his model recreation

Simon spent two years researching the layout of the junction — where the lines from Manchester and Huddersfield meet — via old photographs he found on the internet, including one which, to his astonishment, included his young self.

He told the Mail yesterday: ‘Railway enthusiasts had a poor image for a long time. But since people like Rod Stewart, Jools Holland and Pete Waterman have come out, and people have seen their incredible layouts, it’s become more accepted.

‘Now I just want everyone to be able to see my railway and enjoy it. It is transportable — I designed it so it fits into three articulated lorries.’

Simon, who did nearly all the work himself apart from some help from computer software experts, reckons the model is three months away from being finished. He plans, once lockdown restrictions allow, to put it on display in vacant shops around the country — so people can enjoy the views he so loved as a boy. 

Source

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More