As a small child, I lived in Birmingham. In those days, The City still retained much of the infrastructure of the old, Victorian and Edwardian industrial town. The stone buildings were soot black and the air was heavy with the smell of coal smoke. Trams rattled through the streets and Snow Hill and New Street Stations seemed the most exciting places on earth. Walking hand in hand with my mother along a gloomy Midland platform at New Street, I distinctly remember how cosy those coach compartments appeared; their illuminated windows swathed in mists of smoke and steam. From this platform, we took the train to Duffield where my aunt lived, conveniently close to the Midland main line. The photo shows the author and smaller friend trainspotting on this very line near Duffield, Derby in 1954.
I knew nothing of locomotive types; there were just tank engines and tender engines. The ownership of some Hornby 0 Gauge trains did nothing to enlighten me in this regard! To this day I am not especially knowledgeable about locomotive classes. My love of railways has much more to do with the remembered atmosphere of that vanished world.
In an attempt to re-live some of these early memories, I had a growing desire to build a garden railway. A psychologist might have a jolly time analysing this stuff. I had hoped that in some way I would be able to recreate the railway of childhood memory. To the external observer such a notion is ridiculous but in the world of my own imagination I confess that to some extent at least, I have achieved my ambition.
I suppose we all have different triggers for pursuing the model railway hobby but however close to insanity this particular enthusiast has come, I do take great pleasure in sharing my interest with others.
I have had a really good time working with Peter Bicknell and more recently, with Paul Rhodes to produce the little ‘Duck End’ films. These have not only been hugely rewarding to make, but they have also given me the opportunity to share my 'Duck End Railway’ with enthusiasts around the world.
DUCK END RAILWAY