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Club History

Our story begins early in 1963 when two gentlemen with a keen interest in model railways met to discuss the possibility of forming a model railway club.  They decided to post an advertisment in a local model shop asking persons similarly minded to meet with a view to forming a club.

The first meeting, chaired by Ron Simpson, took place in March 1963 when a turn out of around sixty met to discuss the idea and thus the Scunthorpe and District Model Railway Club was formed.  The club elected its first chairman, D Stobbart, secretary Bert Mawer and treasurer J Hewitt.

A railway carriage in Bell Lane became the clubs first home and a grant application was made to the then Scunthorpe Borough Council.  The youth services department offered a more permanent home at the Cottage Beck Road library and a long and happy friendship was formed.

The club soon settled down and early on it was decided to make the club layout in "OO" scale and that an exhibition layout would also be built in "TT".

Work commenced on the layouts with a vigour but soon the membership dropped to a stable twenty or so.  Another lasting bond developed with Ron Simpson, who owned the local model railway shop and allowed the club very generous credit facilities over the years to enable the club to become established.

1964 saw the coming of several events that had an effect on club life for years to come. Early April a letter from another club in the region saw the start of a lasting friendship when we were invited to join the East Pennine Association of Railway Modellers more commonly known as E.P.A.R.M.

The second invitation came to the "TT" members inviting them to join the 3mm society,

The third was an invitation, to attend the Appleby Frodingham Works Childrens Gala, an invitation which was accepted with the first layout being shown in 1965.

John Forman, Colin Harris and Bert Mawer at the Gala in 1965 with the original "TT" Layout
A second meeting room was aquired and an ambitious plan was embarked upon with the railway being connected to both rooms via a tunnel (a hole in the wall). A scale model of the Wearmouth Bridge at Monkwearmouth was constructed and placed in a prominent place.

The bridge was a first of many scale structures that the club members would produce but Monkwearmouth Bridge as the first always occupied a prime spot on club layouts.

Mick Butler broke new ground, when, in 1973 he built an accurate scale model of Tetbury, Gloucestershire which he proudly displayed at the new Scunthorpe Central library when it was opened by Joan Plowright in 1974.

Mick Butler, Peter Elliot and Phil Bootland at the opening of the Central Library with the Tetbury layout in 1974
Harry Porter, Mick Butler and Alan Boothby show Tetbury at the 1976 Gala
The club continued to flourish  throughout the seventies until in 1977 our landlords the Humberside County Council dropped their first bombshell by increasing the rent to astronomical levels.   The cash crisis prompted the club to hold its first show in Charter Hall in 1978 when members layouts were displayed together with one owned by Richard Wood of Gainsborough.  That first show saw Tetbury, Haverdale the new "TT" layout and Harry Porters "EM" gauge.

Cash was raised and whilst the club was still trying to locate mew premises it was announced in the local eveing paper that major alterations were to be made to the library followed by a second bombshell of a notice to quit by 31st December 1980.

With no club room the members decided to stick together and monthly meetings were held in St Paul's church Hall where we had regular films and slide shows.  Interestingly membership grew during this period.

During the latter part of the seventies talks had been in progress with Scunthorpe Borough Council and in 1981 they offered us new premises at the new John Street complex and we moved into the new premises in August 1981.

When all the room modifications had been carried out members were invited to draw up plans for a new "OO" gauge layout.  In October 1982 the first locomotive ran on the new layout exactly two years to the date the last locomotive ran at Cottage Beck Road..

The new layout incorporated the Monkwearmouth Bridge and the old branch line from Cottage Beck Road as feature items.

The layout measuring 37' x 13' was constructed as an end to end termini on two levels connected by a continuous loop with a branch line running off and the pointowrk was controlled from a central "signal box" in the centre of the room.  October saw the first locomotive to complete a full circuit.

1984 saw us attend the first "Hobbies for all Exhibition" at the Baths Hall when all aspects of modelling were put on show for the public.

1987 saw the winding up of E.P.A.R.M

Things were looking good and despite being told by the council that the life excpectancy of the club rooms was only eight years we were still stunned to be told that due to the proposed redevelopment to the town centre we were given notice to quit in 1989.

In the late eighties the club started to hold shows at Sunshine Hall featuring such layouts as Highly, Claremont, Littleroo, Binbrook and Kingstock

1991 saw John Creeks' first layout of Whirboroughbeing shown and closely followed in 1992 by Appleby which he built with Alan Cave.

Although shows had been held in the preceeding three years the members decided at the 1993 AGM to make it an annual event in order that we could have enough money to extend the club into premises next door.  Those premises were aquired in 1994 and became the layout building room for show exhibits such as Barton and Gainton.

In 1995 were where told by the council that once again we would have to leave the premises without a gaunrantee of relocation so once again we needed a serious hunt for new premises.  The impending move did not dampen the members enthusiasm and another successful show was held later that year featuring layouts Chilbury, Appleby, Richmondale, Highly, Gainton and Thomas.

1996 saw seven layouts under construction within the two club buildings and that years show saw Richmondale, Kirton, Kingstock, Lowley, Gainton and Thomas.

Efforts continued to find new rooms and mention of Riddings Junior School and a portacabin on Rowland Road or East Common Lane and at the old police station on High Street East,  No progress was made on relocation but negotiations continued with various options been put to the council.

1999 saw a major first when we held a show at Sunshine Hall with a Lincolnshire theme featuring Appleby, Barton, Stow Park, Binbrook, Kirton Lindsey and Winterton plus Thomas.

The lease on John Street was terminated on the 1st July but we were allowed occupancy on a weekly basis until new premises were aquired.

After long negotiations the North Lincolnshire Council offered us club rooms at Riddings Junior School which consisted of an end classroom and a detached classroom with toilet block.  Work commenced to renovate the premises and it was decided to move into them after the show in November.  All hands were called to action and the move was made one Saturday with no problems.

The members decided to build two new layouts of Scunthorpe in modern image and Stow Park as it was in 1959.

2000 started well but we were soon to suffer the first of our setbacks when on the 9th May Member Colin Harris died. We lost a good friend and dedicated member who served as an officer or committee member from the founding of the club until his death,

Despite heavy rain, flooded building and a power cut we still managed to have a profitable show.  Euphoria was taken over by distaster when on the 12th December 200 the main room was destroyed by a mini tornado.  Members there on the night moved all the surviving layouts into the end classroom.  The full extent of the damage was not fully realised until the daylight hours when most of the recoverable items were moved into another classroom loaned to us by the headmaster. 

The real challenge now started, how do you build two 20'x10', one 7'x5' and one 14'x8' layouts within a 25'x25' square room: the answer is by forbearance, skill, co-operation and pure bloody mindedness.

Following the disaster donations were received and we will be forever grateful to Tagg models, Dr Morton, E H Martin, Carlton Towers MRC, Spalding MRC, Friends of the Barton Line, the GRC Society some of whom we have never met.

We had promised the public that our new layout of Scunthorpe would be on show for 2001 and we kept our promise.

The AGM in 2001 saw John Creek take over as Chairman and Eric Galey made the president in recognition of his services to the club.

Work continued on layouts required for the show but the lack of a permanent club layout was beginning t cause concern as it was evedent that some members wanted to run their stock especially when they had no layout at home.

April 2002 saw another first for a model railway club when Calendar weather and Jon Mitchell decided to do a live weather broadcast from the club with its base theme naturally being why he had not warned us of the impending tornado.  Jon had an interest in model railways but unfortunatly he had a bent for L.M.S and despite best efforts could not be persuaded to support a proper railway - the L.N.E.R.

27th November 1999 to 23rd July 2013 was home to the club that saw us survive the tornado in 2000 and the building of twenty one new layouts. It is unlikely that we will ever again have such spacious premises again at such a low cost but we will have fond memories of those years.

A New start, new hopes and new ambitions

During the middle of 2012 we became aware that things were about to change when a new extension to the school was started and we were effectively locked out.  A meeting was had with the estates department & the school and we were assured that we would be staying until after the 2013 show when the rent would be reviewed.  Events convinced us that we were once again on the move and on 23rd February 2013 the officers of the club met with the committee at the Hobbies Centre and a deal was struck for us to move in.

The members knew that two club rooms would run in tandem with work at the new one taking place other than on club nights.  A great deal of renovation and decoration was required and true to form the workers moved in on Wednesday the 24th February and got stuck in.

Application was made to the Community Development Council for a grant towards funding the work and we were delighted when we were awarded a grant of £2500.

The grant was dependant on us matching that amount in cash terms and man hours worked and that was achieved comfortably.  The transformation of the new club rooms was nothing short of amazing and that was purely down to determination, goodwill, comradeship and hard work of those involved.
We fast forward now to 2022. We have seen a pandemic hit the whole world on a scale not seen before.  We have seen members go either through bereavement or for their own personal reasons. We enter a new phase in the life of the club where we are down to eleven members and our future is uncertain.  We strive to carry on and look forward to new members joining.
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