A nostalgic project that spanned six years has grown into Britain’s largest miniature railway – and it may be going on tour soon.
Businessman Simon George, 53, yearned to recreate his favorite childhood spot from 1983 – a railway junction near Mirfield in West Yorkshire.
Over the past six years he’s been tweaking his £ 250,000 ‘Heaton Lodge’ model – faithfully recreated after downloading hundreds of railroad maps in the 1980s.
Now the model is expected to be on display at Wakefield Market Hall from December 4-19, with the possibility of a UK city tour after that, The Observer reports.
Simon George, 52, (pictured) created what would be Britain’s largest miniature railway by recreating the Heaton Lodge Junction in West Yorkshire
As a child, Simon George (left) loved watching trains go by at the bustling railway junction in a hamlet near his home.
Real-life inspiration: Simon spent long days during his school vacation in the early 1980s, aged 12 to 15, sitting on embankments or perched on catwalks above the tracks in Heaton Lodge Junction, just west of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, (pictured) as it marveled at the sights, sounds and power of locomotives and freight cars loaded with coal and steel
It was, he says, his favorite place, and – although he grew up running a successful supercar driving experience company and owning a Lamborghini himself – the happy memories of those innocent days and the ‘excitement he felt seeing a train coming off all the way down the tracks and waiting to see exactly what type it was, never left him
Mr George, who lives in Ripon, North Yorkshire, said: ‘I used to spend a lot of time there, watching trains go by, and it left an indelible impact on my memory.
“I don’t think there is anyone foolish enough to go to the extremes that I went to in some of the details built in.”
The model, which started in 2015, even features a miniature 12-year-old Mr. George, watching intently as the cars pass.
Two and a half years ago he sold his share in an experienced supercar driving company and embarked on the project – called Heaton Lodge Junction, built in O gauge or 7mm at 1 foot – with extra time spent during the lockdown.
Other painstaking details include a small 1980s Tesco carry bag caught in a tree and 5,000 custom made brass fern leaves, each individually placed and twisted into shape. The model even emits fake diesel fumes and has all the sounds of the railroad.
Mr George said: “I think if you want to do something you have to give it 100%.
“When people walk through the door, they are faced with a very well-lit basement with a huge model as far as the eye can see. It sometimes repels them. It’s a great reaction.
Time flies when you’re a train conductor: Simon at the controls of his huge 200-foot masterpiece
Over seven years later, and after laying 2½ miles of track to O track, taking care to place houses, factories – and even individual trees and manhole covers on roads – in the right place, in installing 10,000 ferns of individual ferns and other exact replicas. of the landscape, his masterpiece is 199 feet 8 inches long, 40 feet wide
Simon sold his 50% stake in the events company in 2018 to focus full-time on his railroad and turn it into a business. Along the way it cost around £ 250,000 to manufacture – aided by sponsorship from Danish model railroad company Heljan
Roll out the barrel: British Rail engineers chat in front of two discarded oil barrels. These are just a few of the many decorations Simon created in his model recreation.
“It’s funny because when it’s up and running and you look up it makes the hairs on your neck stand up because it’s like you’re back in 1983.”
Mr George plans to take the model on tour to cities across the UK, although it will take three trucks to transport it.
George Dent, editor of Model Rail magazine, said many people are shy about their passion for model railroads, with many large ones hiding in barns or large houses across the country.
He said: “We know some very famous people who are very interested in model railroads, but they don’t seem eager to share them.”
“Rod Stewart may be open about his passion, but not everyone is ready to admit it, which is a real shame – especially in today’s climate, as we realize the full benefits of the crafts and recreation. ”