The miniature world hidden in Harry Livingstone’s painstakingly built 40-year-old loft


Few can say that they have put as much time and effort into their hobby as Harry Livingstone.

Harry, who turns 80 this month, has spent over 40 years building and painstakingly maintaining an impressive miniature train at his home in Nunthorpe.

His love for steam engines started as a teenager in Marske, but he didn’t start building models until after his wife, Avril, bought him one for £ 15.

“I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ve always been interested in steam trains, but not diesel trains,” said Harry, 79.

“When I lived in Marske as a teenager, I used to go and spot trains at Darlington station, but it was in the Steam Age.

“When I got married I was still interested in trains and my wife bought a set from a friend of mine who had lost interest.

“It included a few engines, a station and a track and we got it for £ 15.”

Harry moved his first set into a spare bedroom, but then moved to Nunthorpe and had two children, Claire, 43, and Michael, 46.

“Michael then developed an interest in trains and we moved into her room, but Avril couldn’t come in to dust or clean the windows, so we took her to the attic.”

After years of collecting coins at Peter’s Spares in Riverside Park, Middlesbrough, Harry’s set has grown into the 17ft by 8ft he owns today.

“I stand in the middle of it all and operate it. It includes a police station, a school, houses, a bowling green and a cricket pitch.

“There are even gypsy caravans and a council man who orders them to leave.

“It’s just a hobby and I really enjoy it.”

Harry, who worked for years as a sales rep for Hintons, named parts of the fictional town after his relatives.

“The station is called Livingston and there is Ramsdale Junction and Avril’s Holt, both of which are named after my wife.

“Most of the time I’m usually in the loft doing something. I have a steam tape so my wife knows where I am when she hears it.

“There are still a few things to do but I don’t have room to stretch out anymore. I’d rather build it than play with it, it keeps me from messing around.”

And with Christmas and his birthday approaching, Harry now knows what gifts to expect from his family and friends.

“I always have a few things to add to my set which is great,” Harry added.

“But what I love most is showing it to people – I enjoy seeing the scenery through other people’s eyes.”

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