Norfolk Group History – 1994-2010
During the period 1994 to 1996 we continued exhibiting the modules in various configurations. We had notched up 65 meetings, and also visited various exhibitions like ExpoNG, and railway running days as a Group. Now and again a new member would join, but there was always a “core” of members in the group.
The tenth anniversary was marked by a new newsletter and a party complete with special cakes and proper, absolutely superb champagne. The newsletter had another piece from P D Hancock and Ray Fothergill, an article on the Ernest Twining loco “Sian” and photo’s from the 25th Anniversary Gala at the Leighton Buzzard Railway.
My wife and I helped one of the members George Gleadhill, with the scenery and buildings on an ingenious automatic revolving layout called “Ty-Morau” which featured three scenes in different seasons. I also helped with exhibiting this on many occasions around East Anglia. Meanwhile, I re-built my static layout at home in the spare bedroom.
In 1995 Ray had a fall, and had be assisted with walking sticks to get around, sadly it was the start of a long decline in his health. He still came to meetings and helped whenever he could.
In the summer of 1997 we discussed what we could do to celebrate the forthcoming 25th Anniversary of the 009 Society, one of the suggestions was to hold a members day somewhere in the Newmarket area. We contacted the Essex Group to see if they could help us with layouts and members to help on the day. Ray and I went to meet the Essex Group in North Weald near Harlow, and with the thumbs-up from them, we booked the St Felix School in Newmarket on 16th May 1998. With their help we managed to exhibit fourteen narrow gauge layouts that day, including Brain Love’s “Fallgate”, Jack Carter’s continental layouts and John Thorne’s “Long Ditton”, also with the Society second-hand stand. About 90 members and visitors attended, including a member of the society all the way from Gateshead. 90 visitors were less than I had hoped for, but still a successful day.
During this time I was building an exhibition layout with my wife called “Carne” and later that year we had our first exhibition at Bressingham. Dave and Midge Grassing also decided to exhibit their module and end boards called “Sandcliffe Junction”, so suddenly with “Ty-Morau”, the Group now had four exhibition layouts.
With all of this going on, but the Modules being exhibited less, the meetings became rather quiet with not much going on. So in 1999, the fifteenth year of the Group, I proposed another set of modules for which a plan appeared in a celebratory Newsletter. The idea for this set of modules was very different, and I extolled the benefits of the system at our next meeting. They were smaller, only 3ft x 1ft, easier to build, transport and join together, and they could be run prototypically as an end-to-end line. Again the Group approved and decided to build them, all the wood was cut by machine again and each member built a module of their own design self-contained with end and back scene boards. By September 2000 we had built a two or three of them and they had their first test session, that went quite well, but when we displayed them for the first time at a school fete the layouts rested on tables and we had problems. The board joints and track joins were bad, and it involved getting underneath to correct things, but that could not be done easily as the tables were underneath. So from that time onwards we rested the modules on the trestles from the first project.
We were then invited to several exhibitions, also three new members joined, a couple from Dereham, and Chris from Thorpe, Norwich. They also built modules, which added greatly to the system. As one member left the group at the time and Ray became absent due to failing health their contribution was very welcome.
Ray died in February 2004 after a period in a nursing home, the last time I saw him in the home, I was very upset.
After a period of nerve trouble later that year I took more of a back seat in the group and Dave from Dereham took over as Secretary at the 166th meeting.
The names of the five initial modules were: “Castleby” a terminus station with low relief castle standing above, and village square modelled behind, “Fotherbrook” (in honour of Ray) a halt by a small hamlet with village buildings, “Castleby Mills” a terminus or passing station featuring a mill house, working windmill, steam mill and siding, “Kirk Tor” a rural scene with chapel and “Castleby Crags”, a scene inspired by the Aberglaslyn Pass with rock faces, waterfall and farm scene.
(Above photo: A McMahon)
More new members joined, from Oulton Broad, Hethersett, Beccles, Shipdham and East Bilney and one or two left the group, including me. My nerve trouble had got quite bad and I just wanted a quieter life. I was still modelling in 009, and at this time I was building the “Whitsend Tramway” with my wife.
Stewart from Oulton Broad took over as Secretary in 2006.
Sadly, a bit later, Dave lost his wife Pat, she was also a brilliant scenic modeller in 009, and later Gn15.
The modules continued to be exhibited occasionally and I donated the ones I had built to the Group. The group built another module, as a combined group effort, called the “Works module”. It was slightly larger with working turntable, engine sheds and maintenance works and went to more exhibitions.
(Above photo A McMahon)
The group planned a new exhibition layout, based on a North Norfolk village and after many schemes, all with their own merits, nothing came to fruition. The number of members in the Group also went down and in the end, in May 2010 after 26 years, the Group was wound-up.