An incredibly detailed model railway which reconstructs a long-lost train station in Aylesbury has gone on public display for the first time, 40 years after it was first built.
The late Geoff Williams created the model of the Aylesbury High Street station, located in what is now Vale Park Drive, in the early 70s, but it was carefully stored in his son’s loft until being recently acquired by the Risborough and District Model Railway Club.
The model, which is around 30ft long by four feet wide and depicts the station and its surroundings, including nearby homes and gas works, has now been lovingly restored by the club’s members.
Set at the turn of the 20th century, it is made on a 1/76 scale (or, to use the correct terminology, ‘4mm to the foot’).
It was shown in working form for the first at the club’s RISEX exhibition in Princes Risborough on February 21.
Andrew David, from the club, said: “The detailing on it is amazing. You couldn’t get kits in those days, he made it all himself and the detail is just fantastic. “It was very pioneering, even today it still looks great.
“The layout is such an amazing find for us. I remember reading articles in the 1970s about how he made it. For example some of the fencing has been most effectively portrayed by Geoff from metal hair combs, and he mentions in one of the layout articles how he had to explain why he was purchasing so many combs from Boots in Aylesbury.
“Lots of people came to the exhibition who remembered what it was like and it produced a huge amount of interest because it’s local. People could see part of our cultural heritage.”
The High Street station was opened in 1839 and it is regarded as the world’s first railway branch line. It ran to Cheddington (which linked to London) with one intermediate station at Marston Gate.
It was popular throughout the 19th Century, being heavily used for the transportation of ducks and geese from Aylesbury to the London markets. By the early 1900s up to fifty churns of milk were being loaded at Marston Gate each day, all of which were destined for the Nestlé factory in Aylesbury.
The detailing on it is amazing. You couldn’t get kits in those days, he made it all himself and the detail is just fantasticAndrew David
The branch line also enabled fruit from the area’s orchards to be sent swiftly and efficiently to London and elsewhere.
Among loads coming in the opposite direction were horse droppings cleared from the streets of London, much valued as manure by the farmers of the locality. Coal would come in to Aylesbury for the town’s gasworks and a significant volume of agricultural machinery was transported from the town’s New Holland factory.
The line closed to passengers in 1953 and was fully closed by mid-1965. The station in Aylesbury eventually became Vale Park.
Risborough and District Model Railway Club is currently constructing a model of Aylesbury’s current train station. More information on this will be available when it holds its annual RAILEX exhibition at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in May.