Last week I had noted a sign in a shop for the annual model railway exhibition at the Methodist Church in Romiley. Like most (all?) young children, Mr D and Miss E are slightly mesmerized by all things trains so I decided that it would be a nice thing to take them to today. We had lunch with a friend earlier in the week and the children were all mesmerised by the display in a shop window advertising the event.
Damian was in work so I had planned to head to Romiley first thing, wander in the charity shops, pick up some dry cleaning and have a play in the park. In typical fashion it was throwing it down so we didn’t get to play in the park as planned but we did have a bit of a look in the charity shops and picked up a toy bike for Mr D to paint with his Grandad when he comes back from his holiday soon.
We had a walk around and Mr D is very much into spotting letters at the moment and took great delight pointing out the letters he knows on this road sign.
We were a little early for the exhibition but as it was, by this point, really raining quite heavily, we took shelter in the church and they did let us in five minutes early. Entry was by donation and there were quizzes for older children to do (looking for different lego figures) and I was given a voting strip to choose our favourite layout.
In the centre of the room was a brio Thomas play set which the children instantly went to – they were quite literally jumping up and down with excitement and it was lovely to see. I then managed to convince them to come and look at the model at the back of the room that had a number of engines going around the track. They were both mesmerised by it.
They then spotted another Thomas one so quickly headed to that and were thrilled to be able to control this one! The exhibitor on this one was superb with the children and was very encouraging of them to press the various buttons which lit up the station, set the windmill spinning or let certain trains move on. Mr D’s favourite was the button that set off the Thomas theme tune. It really was a superb display and the gentleman responsible for it even thanked me for having such in-depth knowledge of Thomas – including some of the more minor characters. I was secretly quite pleased!
We then moved on to another one (which was in fact the one that was in the shop window earlier in the week) which was manned by a young lad – again he was brilliant and very encouraging of Mr D and Miss E controlling the Toby engine – and they even got a certificate each to say they had controlled the train. One of my favourites was the gentleman who let Mr D switch the engine on and off using the switch in the cab. I think all too often older and younger generations don’t interact but this gentleman was superb and very keen to let Mr D switch it on and off, and was much more relaxed than I was when he set it off in reverse and nearly caused a mini crash!
There was a second one that was manned by two older gentleman and it was lovely to see them lift Mr D onto a chair and show him how to turn the dial on the controls as the train went around the track and through the tunnels.
Northern Rail also had a stand (Northern Vale) which was quite good and Mr D instantly recognised the trains as ‘Daddy’s train’.
The exhibition really did surprise me. If I’m honest I thought it would be a bit naff but it was actually brilliant and it’s the sort of thing I’d encourage Mr D and Miss E to take up as a hobby in the future if their love of trains continues. Mr D often asks for his wooden train set and is getting better and better at building the tracks. I’m hoping they get a few more pieces for Christmas and Birthdays such as tracks that split and turntables so that we can build more complex tracks. They do have my brothers old Hornby train set which they like to watch too.
What I really liked about this was the range of ages. From middle aged people, teenagers and older gentlemen it was a real example of hobbyists coming together and creating something superb. I think all too often we tend to not socialise enough across generations and this was a fine example of when this can work. Clubs like this are excellent.
And, as for the our winner… it had to be the Thomas one – Hogsmead-on-Sodor. Mr D and Miss E kept talking about it and told their Grandad about it later that day. It really was excellent.
To read more about the Romiley Methodist Railway Modellers you can visit their website here. I’ll be looking out for future exhibitions to take the children to and support the club.