By their very nature, hobbies require committment, enthusiasm and dedication in equal measure.
But if you happen to be a married member of the thriving Falkirk Model Railway Club an understanding wife also helps!
Established nearly 34 years ago, FMRC is a well respected member of the Association of Model Railway Societies in Scotland who are busy preparing for their biggest event of the year, the Model Rail Scotland Show in Glasgow’s SECC at the end of next month.
It is preparing to welcome two dozen layouts created by club enthusiasts from south of the border as well as 26 carefully and painstakingly built by its own members from across Scotland.
This is the only show in the UK where such a large number of member groups pull together to produce such a spectacular event which has attracted growing numbers year on year to underline the attraction of model trains remains as strong as ever.
And Falkirk will be well represented with ‘Fleckenkirk’, the ‘N’ gauge masterpiece planned by club veterans Ron Young and Douglas Guthrie way back in 2008 and finally completed - at an estimated cost of £5500 three years later - scheduled to make its latest appearance on the exhibition circuit.
Despite the fact the pair have been involved in building between 25 and 30 other exhibition standard layouts with club colleagues over the years, many of which have attracted their fair share of praise, there is no getting away from the fact ‘Fleckenkirk’ set ‘somewhere in Germany’ and a remarkable feat of building by any standards when you look at the detail involved, really is their pride and joy.
It was seven ago that Ron (75) from Falkirk, a popular chemistry teacher at Larbert High School before he retired, and Douglas (68) who was a property survey manager for a Grangemouth firm and now lives in Linlithgow, “persuaded” the club committee to put their idea for a model railway based on the kind that runs through continental Europe forward for funding from Falkirk Arts and Civic Council.
To make the project more attractive they suggested it could be called ‘Fleckenkirk’ in tribute to the town’s first church, the ‘Fawkirk’ which was built from speckled stone which in German translates to ‘Flecken’.
It was a novel idea and one which certainly impressed because the £1000 needed to get it up an running was duly awarded!
That, as the old friends agree, was the start of something big which was to take up the bulk of their time for the next three years.
Ron, who has been a member of the club for 30 years, explained: “It was our challenge of choice on club nights. Then we decided to come in on another day of the week to keep things moving along, but eventually we were working on it both club nights and up to five days during the week to get it operational in time for our own show at Falkirk College in November 2010. We made that deadline, but unfortunately on its debut half of the layout did not work properly! We got it right for the national show in Glasgow the following February though.”
Douglas, a member of Falkirk MRC for 25 years, added: “Over the years it has probably taken thousands of man hours to put everything together and there always seems there is something to be added or fixed or changed, but ‘Fleckenkirk’ won ‘Best in Show’ at Aberdeen in 2012 and been featured twice in Continental Modeller which was really very pleasing. It’s also nice at shows to see crowds gather three or four deep in front of the display to catch everything that’s going on and we’ve had some very favourable comments over the years as well which we appreciate.”
While they have the SECC to look forward to, the fact that colleagues Jim Reid, Colin Rae and Mike Evans also have exhibits booked to appear, maintains the overall ‘feelgood’ factor the club is enjoying at the moment.
Based at Redding Industrial Estate, it has a solid membership of around 35 - including a professional train driver - and while the majority are adults, youngsters are very much involved as well which augers well for its future.