Back then: The club formed in 1980 as the Rickmansworth and District Model Railway Society. We first met in the function room of the Sportsman public house in Croxley Green – it’s strange how model railway clubs seem to be associated with pubs. It was clear from the start that this arrangement was not really satisfactory and we soon moved to the Rickmansworth Sports Club. The club was now using what was in effect a cupboard as its premises, out of the frying pan and into the fire. It is surprising what can be achieved in a limited space. The club built one ‘OO’ layout, Lea Magna and started work on both ‘N’ and ‘O’ gauge layouts.
Our first exhibition was held in 1981 in the Scout hut in Ebury Road, Rickmansworth. The queue of people stretched back to the High Street and the Police came along to see what the ‘trouble’ was. The success of this show prompted us to seek a larger venue. Thus we moved our exhibition to the Watersmeet theatre in Rickmansworth. The three shows held here were very successful but owing to circumstances beyond our control another move was required. By this time we had also outgrown our club “premises”. By chance we acquired the sole use of a rather dilapidated hut on the Lincolnsfield site in Watford.
Now: Membership is just over thirty and we are always happy to welcome visitors and potential new members. We have access to the club room 7 days a week but our main club nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays 19:30 to about 21:30. We also usually open up on Wednesday mornings from 10:00 until about midday.
The club’s current ‘N’ gauge layout is called ‘Dudley Frey’, after a past member. It is a circuit, DC controlled, 16ft (5m) long and 3ft (0.9m) feet wide, with 4 running roads. Automatic light signals are installed and work is progressing on an extension to the layout including a Faller road scheme.
Our ’00’ gauge exhibition layouts are called Tedburn St Mary and Silverbury.
Tedburn St Mary is and end-to-end layout, also 16ft (5m) long and DC controlled. Some might say it is a bit ‘long in the tooth’ but it is still receiving invitations to exhibitions and was exhibited at the Warley Exhibition in the NEC, Birmingham in 2013. It was awarded ‘Best Visiting Layout’ at the Milton Keynes’ exhibition in 2012 and ‘Best Layout in Show’ at the Silverfox exhibition in 2016. It has also featured in the July 2015 edition of Hornby Magazine and was exhibited at the ‘Great Electric Train Show’ in 2015.
Silverbury is a modern image ‘00’ gauge DCC layout which was extended and improved to rejoin the exhibition circuit in 2020, which started at Milton Keynes in February. It can be exhibited in a 35ft x 12ft (10.7m x 3.7m) circuit or end-to-end modes up to 36ft (11m) long.
We purchased another ‘00’ layout that was under construction at the Bushey & District MRS when they had to disband at the end of 2007. It will be renamed ‘Luffield Junction’ set in the late nineteen forties. We are modifying the interesting track layout and updating the electrics, then we will be focusing on the scenics to bring it up to exhibition standard. We plan that this can be operated in both DC and DCC modes to allow full use for members to run their own locos and rolling stock.
We also purchased a ‘work in progress’ model that we are using for members to gain experience in all aspects of building a layout – we have renamed it ‘Fudge Town’ to depict the mods necessary to get it to work!
Another project is a 0-16.5 layout called ‘Jurassic Halt’ (What will it look like? Wait and see!).
Our Annual Exhibition is held at the Queens School in Bushey in early May and attracts 20 or so layouts, a good number of traders and society stands, as well as an extensive club stand selling members’ pre-used stock and other items.
Social events have included the Annual Dinner in January, a Barbecue during the summer and visits to places of interest.