A brief history
I thought i’d start this site with a small introduction to the history of model trains. So many of us have been modelling since childhood, but know little about the background.
Train modelling is almost as old as the era of steam trains themselves. Beginning in the 1840s with carpet railways – crude reproductions of engines that required no tracks, running on simple steam boilers that left behind them pools of water!. However it was in the 20th century with the advent of electric trains that model trains also improved. Initial crude reproductions often not to scale ran on trackside batteries, over the years the art of model trains slowly evolved to the detail we see today.
Model railway clubs brought about significant improvements, while putting on lavish displays to entertain and enthrall the public. One such club at MIT created automatic control of track switching in the 1950s.Others were responsible for what would beome worldwide standards in gauges. As popularity for modelling grew manufacturers became increasingly interested, investing money in research and development of everything from the tracks and engines, to accurate reproductions of scenery. By the mid 20th century, with the mass production of models, individual householders were able to enjoy creating their own model sets at home often giving over whole rooms to their hobbies.
The popularity of train modelling has been further cemented by its inclusion in popular culture during this time, the Eigth Doctor kept a train set in the TARDIS, while James May confirmed it as an icon for lads in his own shows. With continuing advancements there is little chance of this hobby that was once the preserve of rich Victorian gentleman dying out soon.