Model railway club on the look out for new home for first time in 43 years

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 February 2011

The railway carriage that is the club's headquarters

The railway carriage that is the club's headquarters

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SAFFRON Walden Model Railway Club is on the lookout for new headquarters after being told to move on from its current home.

For the last 43 years members have been meeting in a disused railway carriage at Audley End Miniature Railway.

However, the owners of the attraction, which is a 1.5-mile ride on a miniature gauge railway through estate woodland, are looking to redevelop the site – and the model railway club’s members have been told there is no longer room for them.

Now they have three months to remove their coach, which is likely to be scrapped, and find new accommodation.

Club secretary Richard Davies said the news had “come out of the blue” and added that the short timeframe had put pressure on the search to find a new venue.

“We are urgently seeking a new meeting room with storage for the club’s layouts,” he told the Reporter.

“By no means are we looking to wind the club up and we will be holding an extraordinary general meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the way forward.”

The coach has acted as the club’s headquarters since 1981. Stripped of its seating, one half houses the club’s new portable mini railway design layout, while the other half serves as the clubroom.

It is the club’s second headquarters on the miniature railway site in a relationship that stretches back to the 1960s when an agreement was made with then-owner Lord Braybrooke. The first was a wooden Victorian six-wheeled saloon, now preserved at the East Anglian Railway Museum.

“We have been lucky enough to have stayed on the site rent-free for so many years and we are very appreciative of that,” said Mr Davies. “But the owners now want to redevelop the site and make better use of it and we don’t fit into those plans.

“It is unfortunate, but we can understand the position they are in.”

Owners Audley End Estates remained tight-lipped abouto what site improvements would be made.

But a spokesman said they were doing all they could to help the model railway club find a new home.

She added: “We have tried our hardest to envisage how we can retain the club’s carriage as part of the improved site. Unfortunately it has become clear this will not be possible, due to various restrictions.

“We have been working closely with the club to try to find an alternative venue.”

Anyone who may be able to help Saffron Walden Model Railway Club can contact Julian Nettle on 01799 521029 or e-mail julian.nettle@btopenworld.com

• The club will still be holding its annual exhibition at the United Reformed Church and Salvation Army Halls in Abbey Lane on Saturday (Feb 26). Trains will be running from 10am until 4.30pm on eight layouts in various gauges including N, OO and O representing diverse places such as Cornwall and the USA. There will also be two trade stands (Walden Models and Round in Circles), refreshments and a second hand stall. Adults cost £2.50 and children £1, Entry for Disabled persons and their carer is free.

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