Liphook U3A -Building a Model Railway Group


BUILDING A MODEL RAILWAY       In the years 2010 to 2014 I ran 12 week long courses, as a member of the Liphook & District Model Railway Club (L&DMRC), on building a model railway, aimed at those who wanted to build one for themselves or for a grandchild. Several club members assisted me. No actual practical work was involved, but the published notes of the weekly sessions, built up into a useful resource and several attendees went on to build their own layout and one joined the L&DMRC.                                                         The first course attracted 11 members, but subsequent attempts in following years attracted few attendees and in 2014 they were abandoned.


In resurrecting the idea for 2017 I am attempting a different format. The sessions are monthly, of 2 hours duration. Those attending  follow and if they wish to, assist in the building of a small model railway, through from planning & construction to exhibiting. In between sessions I am carrying out the majority of the work and explain with progress photographs at each session what has happened and what has to happen next. How long it takes will be very much dependant on the work involved, but I think a year will be a good estimate- that’s 9 sessions. (There there are breaks for the holiday season and Christmas) Think of it more as a working group, rather than a course.

“Membership” of the group is the cost of the hire of the venue used- £14 per 2 hour session -£126 per year, divided by the number attending. So for 10 members it would be £13 per year.  We currently have 7 members including the leader of which 5 have indicated they wish to carry on next year. We will be recruiting for additional members after Christmas and specifically at the Liphook U3A Open Day in March 2018 . We have raised the possibility of having our “East Hants Link” layout on display.

Group members also need to be a paid up member of Liphook U3A or one of several local U3A’s associated with them. (Petersfield, Haslemere, Woolmer Forest or Midhurst) This is an annual membership fee which covers public liability insurance and central services.


The layout constructions being followed by the group in our first year were chosen from the following list. Click on the highlighted names for more detailed information including sizes.

Those marked ** are the chosen projects for the first year  (up to March 2018) For the second year those marked++ are the proposed choice

“Walmington- on- Sea”  British outline 1:43 scale (O)-small Southern seaside terminus serving a town well known for its Home Guard unit! (This layout has been removed from the proposed list as in retrospect the arrangements of the fiddle yards may cause unnecessary time problems in the early stages of the construction)

Soltendieck++, German outline 1:45 scale (O) a very minimalist track layout but with interesting shunting. Set on the inner border between East & West Germany

Bennett Mews **/++ British outline 1:76 scale (OO). Industrial layout with a small main line content set in Blackfriars South London

Danger- Border Ahead++ German outline 1:87 scale (HO) Tramway operational diorama set around Friedrichstrasse station at the border of East & West Berlin in the early 1960’s 

“East Hants Link”  **  will cover up to 5 scenes along the line showing how light rail systems merge easily into  residential and commercial areas. Although a scheme for light rail is not to proceed for Bordon/Whitehill, this layout will show how such a scheme might have looked.

As most modern trams are of fairly similar designs throughout the world, I have chosen Japanese outline trams in N scale, as they are easily available at relatively low cost. The scale (1:150) is slightly different to the British N standard (1:148) but is closer than to the international standard of  1:160.

As a trial I shall be using Ikea type toy boxes as the baseboard for most scenes.

Warehouse District ++ American outline 1:87 scale (HO) a switching (shunting) layout set in Milwaukee Wis. DCC operated This layout is partially completed with baseboard built, track layout completed and wiring well advanced. Some buildings have been completed.

Idylton Vale ++ British outline 1:76 (OO) tram layout set in South west London- using Bachmann OO scale RTR Hong Kong trams, prototypes UK designed and built originally, so little work to Anglicise them. Street scene in area around New  Malden/Kingston By Pass area immediate post war. Baseboard completed- track partially laid, No wiring completed

Cartersland Camp ++ British outline 1:76 (OO-9) DC narrow gauge military camp layout set in the UK, in the First World War. The baseboard is constructed but no other work other than selecting a track layout has been undertaken


“If the railway had come to the Milland Valley”  **Small  diorama in OO scale showing Linch & Redford  on Midhurst to Haslemere line- proposed and although receiving parliamentary approval- never built (Link is to Facebook Page)

Halte Terres de moulin” ++ cross roads with level crossing and a railway  halt- with a game of petanque  in progress on the  terrain near the bar. Sunflower field or vineyard nearby? A small diorama of rural  liberated France a couple of months after D-Day . HO Scale

Anywhere in liberated France. The locals are returning home from celebrating liberation & have stopped off to have a drink and a game with their pals.Usually an all men pursuit, especially  in the era (late 1944) when this is set. A few British soldiers on and around  a tank, are watching .

No work started- baseboard available

Tugaske”  ++ (Scale to be decided) A small Saskatchewan settlement  in 1914  at the railway station. The small town in which my Dad was born. A recreation of a possible scene at the railway station as Godfrey and Gertrude- his parents  set off with him on a long journey back to the UK by rail and ship 



The group was launched at the 2017 Liphook U3A Open Day. Details of the group were also sent to Petersfield, Midhurst, Alton, Haslemere & Woolmer Forest U3A’s .

Full details are on the Liphook U3A website and  on my website. The Milland News and the Liphook Community Magazine are kept regularly informed of our activities.
I also have a Facebook page covering the activities of the group – Building a Model Railway Group 2017 and there are regular reports on RM web.

If you wish to contact me about  joining the “Building a Model Railway” group -please do so via the Liphook U3A contact form or e-mail  me at

A leaflet giving basic details is available from the leader at the contact e-mail address above

The first year sessions are booked- the sixth of nine was held on 15th November 2017 and following a break in December, the sessions resume on Wednesday 17th January 2018 at the Committee Room, Milland Valley Memorial Hall, Iping Road, Milland, Liphook, Hants GU30 7NA 2.00 to 4.00 pm


You can follow progress on the groups projects on our Facebook page


Half of any expenses received from exhibiting any layouts will be donated to Railway Children, an international charity working with homeless children found near major railway stations in India, East Africa and the UK.  We are also making donations for the tea/coffee & chocolate biscuits consumed at the sessions  and we are on target for collecting over £50 from   the first years  9 sessions.

Late March 2017/ April 2017- Details brought fully up to date- image added/May 2017- updated/July 2017 -updated September 2017/ Updated late October 2017/Updated December 2017 to include 2018 layout/diorama  choices

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