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Railway Men

by Ernest Smythe 

Posted: 10 January 2003
Word Count: 213

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I have been building my model railway for over 25 years. My father bought me my first set, and like many a young boy on receiving such a gift, I was thrilled. The set was about the size of a single bed, which was ideal, as it happened to sit perfectly on the bed in our spare room (what we did with it when we had guests I can't quite remember).

The set was bought from an old family friend and had been built by hand. They had done a great job in creating the basic oval loop, a station with long platform and goods yard at one end, a road bridge at the other. The road disected the board about a third of the way across, before falling off the edge of the earth at the far side. To the right there grew a primal forest where many a wild animal was thought to lurk, and at the nearside a village shop and car park.

Many a hapless car disappeared down the back on our spare bed, having last been seen crossing that little bridge at perilously high speeds. That bridge was also the scene of many a catastrophic accident; tanker trucks carreering over the side of the bridge onto the track below.

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Comments by other Members

Richard Brown at 14:58 on 18 January 2003  Report this post
Ernest, This is a lovely piece of nostalgic writing which I'm sure will trigger happy memories for many. It did for me. Thank you!
There is, in fact, a market for nostalgia. It would be interesting to see other examples of writing about childhood memories. Maybe we could form a separate group covering this genre?

paul53 at 12:58 on 28 April 2003  Report this post
Richard Brown summed it up - lovely, and not just because I have a layout myself. By placing yourself in the background and your subject to the fore, your penmanship shone. More, please.

roger at 13:25 on 28 April 2003  Report this post
Well I agree with Richard and Paul. So economical, yet such a nice picture drawn...which says something about the quality of the prose. Writing economically yet descriptively isn't easy, and I'm always impressed (and envious) when I see it done well. I note that you, Ernest, have only uploaded this one piece, and that was back in January. Time for another?

olebut at 17:13 on 14 May 2003  Report this post
what needs to be said has been and cant be improved on thank you for sharing our memeories with us

olebut at 14:39 on 23 May 2003  Report this post


I doubt there are many noys who cant relateto this

if you havent read them you should try and get hold of a series of books by

Reg Pope

the first is called The Model Railway Men

I think you will enjoy them but they ar ehard to get hold of start with the

Ernest Smythe at 14:55 on 23 May 2003  Report this post
olebut - quite remarkable you should say that, as The Model Railway Men holds tremendously fond memories for me. That was the one where the plastic people on the train set came alive and talked to the boy-owner, correct? I've quite a story about that actually.

In the days before the set mentioned above, I had a lego set and after reading that book, must have told my sister about it. She at some later stage pursuaded me that my lego set also came to life during the night time, and that I should write letters to one of the lego men there, a chap called 'Windy Miller' I recall.

Well this went on for some months, letters back and too about the various needs, problems, concerns and stories of the railway people on my bedroom floor - and I was thrilled - deep in my heart I still believe it was real to this day! Various strange occurrences backed up my belief, such as trains moving from one side of the track to the other, all by themselves.

It only finally dawned on me when I heard a rustle in my room early one morning and, dashing out of my room, just managed to see a flurry of curtain as my sister disappeared back in to her room. She had all along been replying to my notes to keep the fantasy alive. It was only a year or so ago, us both now well into our thirties that I finally thanked her for the memory!

olebut at 15:11 on 23 May 2003  Report this post
ref the books yes quite a coincidence they werent pastic though they were minature real people I am not sure which came first these books ( there are about 5 or 6) or the borrowers.

I recall one where some of the characters accompany the boy to America. The main characters were named after the loco engineers of old. great books its a pity they dont seem to have survived into paperback

your sister sound slike the sort of sister that we all wish we had

old friend at 21:26 on 12 September 2003  Report this post
Hello Ernest

It is a pity that all writers on the site will not read this piece for it is a lesson in itself on how to write simply but effectively. Your name is Ernest and so is your writing (but with an'a').

Very nice.

old friend, Len

Prospero at 13:52 on 31 May 2009  Report this post
A lovely little story, Ernest. I had just such a railway that lived under my bed. Rolled in and out of castors.

Thanks for the read.


Issy at 12:59 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
Just found this on the random read and was drawn to it as my dad was a railwayman and my family have just visited the railway museum at York.

Yes, full of nostalgia, not that I had a miniature railway, but I also loved the lego story as well. Nice piece of writing. Did you submit it anywhere?

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