I've been into photography, railways and modelling them in miniature for 30
or so years. As well as creating the personal projects showcased on this
website, I also write about model making and undertake photographic commissions
for the UK based Model Rail Magazine, associated publications and books. Other
interests include vintage motor cars, fine ale, social and industrial history.
Now, a bit of Q&A.......
When did you first become interested in model railways?
Back in the late 1970's whilst I was living in Sweden as a spotty teenager.
What drew you to the hobby?
I'm not quite sure really, though I've always had many hobbies and I recall around that time being rather into building and flying model aeroplanes. Quite where the interest in trains came from is a mystery, though I do remember being given a ride around Gothenburg station on the diesel station pilot - could it have been that?
Can you remember what was your first purchase?
A Lima Deltic - the 'Fife and Forfar Yeomanry' in BR Blue bought by mail order from Hattons of Liverpool in 1978. I still have this engine in first class condition too!
What scales have you worked in?
Nothing very ground breaking, just the popular OO and quirky OO9 gauges. I have thought of modelling in EM and P4, but
I'm mechanically inept so I have resisted those - and to be honest even if I
could I really don't have the time.
Which is your favourite prototype railway and why?
I've followed the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway for as long as I can remember. Alas I never did travel on the line, and even if I did, I was only 3 when the line shut so it's unlikely that
I'd remember anything about it. I do vaguely remember just after moving back to the UK from Sweden in the late
1970's, seeing the derelict Radstock and Glastonbury stations still standing before they became landfill. The rest of the obsession I simply have to blame on Ivo Peters, the prolific railway photographer from the post war steam era. Ivo lived in Bath and photographed the line and people extensively. Through his eyes and lens he captured more than just images of trains and stations - he captured the soul behind the railway.
Why the former S&DJR? I'm not sure, but it did and still does (with various preservation projects now on the go too) appeal to me and in my mind at least it congers up the perfect English railway running through my favourite part of the country.
Apart from OO steam era modelling, I currently dabble in OO9 and more recently with modern image (Cement Quay). The latter because the new breed of diesels run so incredible well and because I can also get out to see the real thing for inspiration!
How often do you visit prototype railways to gain inspiration for your modelling?
As much as possible. For me there is nothing better than spending a nice sunny day photographing freight diversions or steam specials with some great mates and then going for a good old knees-up down the pub afterwards!
How many layouts have you built in your modelling life?
Seven layouts in total, though the first 3 only ever got as far as a bit of track and some Superquick cardboard buildings The baseboards from each being cut up and reformed for the next layout. The third layout was sold to make way for Combwich which was my first serious project. I still have this layout, albeit much changed and improved from its original form when I started it in 1980.
Do you work in DC or DCC?
Nope, lost me there, isn't that a place in the USA that has 'Washington' as the pre-fix in front of the
What are some of the good developments that you have seen in the hobby?
Modellers more than ever before are realizing that there is a lot more to realism than
'correct' flange-ways, bolts and exact scale gauge. Influences from the USA and mainland Europe where model makers frequently embrace the overall scene equally, is at last starting to have a real effect over here too. The internet and excellent model railway forums like RM
Web have created a highly effective platform for people to share and exchange ideas. This
'real time' tool is really making modellers push the boundaries, which in turn is producing some really exciting new model railway projects and layouts!
Are there any bad developments that you have seen in the hobby?
The compulsive breed that simply do 'box buying', where the whole thing is
nothing more than a marathon to see how many new loco releases they can lay their hands on, they then leave them in their boxes forever untouched! There’s no skill or model making or running involved and they're usually the first ones that moan about how
'inaccurate' the releases are and how expensive the hobby is. This to me is not what
it's all about- seriously dull!
Which have been your favourite model shops?
Cove Models was a firm favourite, it sadly closed its doors a few years ago though, so bespoke stuff has to be picked up at shows or I have to build items myself!
Are you a member of any model railway clubs?
Donkeys years ago when living in Southampton, I was a member of the highly regarded Southampton Model Railway Society. There, through the teaching skills of the likes of Ian Wilkins and Malcolm Snelgrove plus several others, I learned the art of track building, kit construction and how to make proper scenery.
I'm in dept to these guys for that invaluable knowledge which is a little like riding a bicycle, for despite having a sabbatical away from the hobby
between 1985 to 2000, I didn't forget any of those highly useful skills, even though some of them were a little rusty for a short while upon my return!
Currently, I'm not a member of any model railway club, but I do visit clubs on regular bases when out on commissions to photograph layouts for
publication. Through this privilege, I have discovered some great clubs with fantastic facilities with wonderful people and bonhomie, with all of them making me very welcome during my few hours of temporary
What do you enjoy most about railway modelling.
When I see an inspiring picture in a book, I then want to read about the people and the location, trying to work out what it was really like to live and exist in the portrayed scene. Understanding more than track geometry and what engines were used is vital if
I'm going to have a successful stab at recreating something from the past in miniature which has atmosphere and a feeling of time and place
- to achieve that I need to know about the personalities and the fabric that made or makes up the community.
How can we interest more people to join the hobby?
Don't let the 'odd brigade' of the hobby take centre stage; quite rightly children
and many adults find them scary. Normal people quite like model trains too, and
somehow we need to lure these guys into the limelight and show that the hobby
isn't just about rivets, second hand anoraks, dead mothers in cupboards and body odour!