Our mission is to display and operate a large, permanent model railway and exhibition in Markeaton park, Derby.
We have achieved the first part of our vision, namely to exhibit a 00 scale model railway to the public in a refurbished large building in Markeaton Park. The building is located opposite the South Car Park, and is adjacent to the southern end of the narrow gauge light railway that links that part of Markeaton Park with the Mundy Play Centre. Thus there is synergy between the idea of riding on the light railway and then visiting the model railway.
Later phases of our project are expected to include a garden railway adjacent to the model railway building, and also, if possible a miniature steam railway track.
The Famous Trains model railway benefits community needs that were currently under-supplied in the area. Even though a million people visit Markeaton Park each year (per the Derby City Council’s website), there is a finite number of attractions there for families and visitors who may also have technical and transport interests. After touring the Craft Village, playing in the Mundy Play Centre, and riding on the light railway, a family may now spend a fascinating half-hour or more watching the model trains pass by on the 00 scale Famous Trains model railway. The model railway has the theme of “famous trains”. Visitors can see and recognise full-length, well-known trains (such as the Flying Scotsman, the Virgin Voyager, and the Midland Pullman) and soon will be able to operate by push-button several set piece models around the layout. This charity believes that the model railway adds to the attractions of Markeaton Park in a way that educates as well as entertains. It is also be something for visitors to do when the weather turns wet.
Education and Training
The model railway is laid out to reflect prototypical operation methods. The charity’s volunteers can demonstrate the principles of railway operation, and show how railways have developed in the decades of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Training of volunteers is an essential part of the scheme. Drawn from local people, young and old, volunteers are able to learn the skills required to construct, maintain and operate a model railway. These skills include carpentry, electrical wiring design and assembly, soldering, modelling in metal, wood, card and plastic, construction of model railway trackwork and scenery, and the electronics involved in automatic and manual operation.
The building with its entrance annexe is owned by Derby City Council and leased to Famous Trains model railway for fifteen years. Famous Trains model railway hired a contractor to refurbish the building and it is now a very pleasant place in which volunteers can work and visitors can view the model railways. The model railway building is shown on the Ground Plan, which also indicates how close we are to the narrow gauge railway station and to the South Car Park.
The building's main hall is 70ft (22 metres) long and 26 feet (8.5 metres) wide.
The model railway building was upgraded in 2013 to a high standard with full insulation, adequate heating and good lighting ,and is accessible to wheelchair users. The cost of this project of above £140,000 was met by grants from the Big Lottery Fund, Biffa Award and local grant funders. The annexe forms the entrance lobby and also gives access to the volunteers’ amenities and toilet. Access to the model railway room is through the double doors at the north end of the annexe. Just inside the model railway exhibition space is our shop and the point where visitors pay the small entrance charge.
Visitors then see the large Chinley model railway facing them towards the right, and a range of other exhibits and activities in the other spaces in the building, something for everyone!
Visitors enter and leave our building through our shop which is managed by the local firm of Derby Trees & Scenics. The shop sells small items for railway modellers, including rolling stock and building kits, scenic accessories, small and useful tools, kits for making trees, small scale road vehicles and railway-oriented toys for smaller children.
A speciality of Derby Trees & Scenics is their model tree kits. Jacky Mogford often gives demonstrations of how to make model trees. She has made several tree that populate our Darley Green layout, and many more will in due course provide shade for the little people on our Chinley layout, too.
Access and Egress
All pathways leading to and from the model railway building are level enough for wheelchair users who can access the building without hindrance. Thus there is easy, level access from the paths leading from and to other parts of Markeaton Park, the South Car Park, the Markeaton Park Light Railway station and the A38 ring road. There are no steps on the site and all public doorways are wide enough to allow a wheel chair to pass.
Within the main building the model railway exhibits have a baseboard height of one metre or less at the edges so that young children and people in wheelchairs have a good view of the models.
There are two emergency escape routes. One is via the normal public access route through the double doors at the north end of the annexe. A new emergency egress single door is sited at the north-west corner of the main building in the west wall. Emergency escape routes accord with British Standard 5588-8:1999.
Car and Bicycle Parking
Because the South Car Park is so near to the model railway building, we have not added any additional vehicle parking spaces. Volunteers and visitors arriving by car can use either the South Car Park nearby or that near the Mundy Play Centre. Visitors and volunteers arriving by bicycle may lock their cycles to the wall rings which are located outside the public entrance. The model railway is within ½km of the cycle route 66.
During the Winter of 2013-14, the charity's members erected a large model railway which depicts Chinley station, Derbyshire, in the 1950s and 1960s. This is regarded as 'work in progress'. While already operational, more tracks, connections and attractions are being added by members month by month.
In 2012 and 2013 members also built two small exhibition layouts, the first of which has a public viewing length of eight feet. This first layout is called Darley Green and it raised our profile at exhibitions and events. The second slightly smaller exhibition layout depicts a factory scene. This has created a lot of favourable comment at exhibitions. This forms an adjunct to the Darley Green layout. Both are linked and form the terminus area of a new branch line from Chinley. Our visitors, particularly those who make repeat visits, will see the on-going progress being made on this section of our exhibition.