In the Herald - Exhibition full steam ahead

Date Published 
Wed 9 Feb 2022

Many members of Irvine Camera Club regard themselves as documentary photographers, telling the stories of everyday life and events for current and future audiences. An event at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine, presented an opportunity to record something through a kind of double lens – a current activity which in itself is a window into an earlier time.

The occasion was an exhibition to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Kilmarnock and District Model Railway Club. A generation of two ago, almost every boy in the land, and a good few girls, will have had an experience of a model railway. For men of a certain age, especially those growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, a model railway would have been part of their childhood – often in the form of a Hornby or Triang model railway set, delivered to them by Santa on Christmas day. For most it was a toy, but for many it kickstarted an interest in engineering and for some, a lifetime passion for modelling. Often it was a father and son activity, with some debate over who the set was actually bought for, the parent or the child.

Model railways have moved far beyond the toy stage and a train set will be a rare choice on any youngster’s Christmas list. Model railways today are complex systems with technical challenges galore. At the Irvine exhibition the layouts extended to detailed landscape and townscape modelling, giving visitors a bird’s eye or drone’s eye view of railways in their environment. The attention to detail was astonishing, amply demonstrated in these photographs which give a photo-real glimpse of a mainly earlier age.

Exhibitors came from as far away as Dundee and the North of England. Netherton, a four track layout, was the main exhibition layout of the Kilmarnock Club. Many of the models of the buildings in the layout were donated to the club, the original buildings can still be seen around Irvine. Kyle MRC, who are based in Irvine Railway Station, showed their Mauchline layout, which includes a model of the Ballochmyle viaduct, the longest masonry single stone arch viaduct in the world.     

The exhibition attracted a steady stream of visitors over the two days, the Museum building was busy and the car park packed. It will have taken an enormous amount of effort to mount the exhibition, but from the smiles and general enthusiasm evident throughout, it was clearly a success.   

Photographs by Pete Heywood and Alan Kempster.