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Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Rare Event Indeed

One hour of  TV programming on the subject of model railways. I refer to the 'Joy of Sets - The Model Railway Story' BBC 4, 9pm, 23rd Jan 13.

Quite a challenge to capture all aspects of the subject but a good overview covering the early history of model train manufacture, the growth of the hobby and what draws adults to it. It was heart warming to see the emphasis given to the hobby as a fulfilling and valid pastime for adults.

Why people do it was identified as being due one or more of these factors.
  1. A nostalgia for and early experiences of the age of steam
  2. An outlet for those with a desire to craft things
  3. An academic interest in railways
The first point arose from the fact that most of the interviewees were mature gentlemen citing a childhood exposure to steam trains and travel. But it seems owning a train set as a child also helped and this arose from the marketing prowess of Bassett Lowke, Frank Hornby and Triang Rovex.

The hobby seems to be the preserve of older people. What of the future? 'Thomas The Tank' was put forward as the catalyst that sparks an interest in trains for the younger generation of today (no mention of visits to preserved steam railways) and these maturing youngsters will likely carry the hobby baton forward. 

The programme just touched on finescale modelling, which may be a dissapointment for some (was for me). I feel too much time was given to Bassett Lowke and the like. That period could have been covered in less time and the time saved given over to the development of the craft - from train sets to realistic railway layouts. The influencial pioneers of Ahern, Denny, Pendon, Norman were all sadly missing. Thankfully Iain Rice and Gordon and Maggie Gravett (who?) waved the flag for finescale with all too brief views of their models.

Scope for a second programme perhaps.


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