A GROUP of model railway enthusiasts are harking back to the golden days of railways with an ambitious project to recreate Wokingham Station as it was in the 1950s.
Members of the Berkshire Area Group of the N Gauge society revealed their plans at an exhibition of their work held in Sindlesham Baptist Church on Saturday, April 22.
The diorama will be 16ft by 3ft when completed and showcase what Wokingham town looked like before the demolition of the original railway station in 1973. By focusing on the post-war period, it means that members of the group can create a layout that can be used by steam, electric and diesel model trains.
Working with The Wokingham Society, the group have identified 20 buildings and features from the old townscape that they intend to recreate.
And to the ensure that the plans are as accurate as possible, the group are looking for help to find pictorial references of Wokingham town centre as it was 50 years ago, including The Terrace, the old town hall and, of course, the train station itself.
At the well-attended exhibition, visitors could see group member Dave Wright painstakingly create sections of the footbridge that will go over the railway tracks. Like much of the diorama, the work will be created by hand and not from model kits.
It is being overseen by group member David Calderwood.
He said: “It’s new project for us, it’s been running so far for about 18 months. We held a competition for a stand-alone exhibition – we went for the local station. It covers the period of Southern Railways, early British Rail and middle-era British Rail.
“The research is time consuming as nothing ever falls into your lap when you need it. So for a project like this, you take a long run at it and say this is what we’re looking for.
“The design as a concept was mooted about 12 months ago, early part of this year we got a drawing on a CAD, we can print it at 1:1 size, put trains on it and ask if it will work. With any model like this you always have to compromise, our priority is an actual layout of the track and the station.”
The group is looking for as much help as it can get to recreate the glory days of Wokingham’s railways.
Mr Calderwood said: “The best source of information we can get is photographs either taken on the ground or in the air of the buildings. It gives us a sense of the colour – I mean the culture, the way the homes were dressed and set up, what you would expect to see in the sides of the streets. Any photograph of the town centre from about 1930 to 1970. We’re talking about the triangle that basically goes from the station to St Paul’s Church and up to the Town Hall in Market Place.”
Wokingham’s landscape was quite different 50 years ago meaning that they’ll be recreating yard buildings, the signal box, St Paul’s church, stables and, a godsend for modellers, plenty of green fields.
Mr Calderwood joked: “We’re quite lucky that in the 1950s there was a lot of grass and trees.
“We’re trying to give an impression that that’s what it was like. We’ll go as accurate as we can, especially with the footbridge, which is a rather unique structure.”