The Yeovil Model Railway Group was formed in September 1974 and was located in a small room in St Michael’s Church Hall, Yeovil. The club was introduced to EM by an ex member of the Liverpool Model Railway Club which was closing down and modelled in EM. At that time none of the original members had particular scale/gauge affiliations so we started immediately in EM. A representation of Templecombe was started. Space was always a problem there as well as security.
An invitation to use a member’s attic for a clubroom turned out to be the large roof space of a minor stately home. So we moved to Coker Court in East Coker just outside Yeovil. South Junction (SJ) was started there as well as an abortive 00 layout. Our first 7mm Gas Works (GW) was also conceived there. Moving layouts out of the roof to exhibitions was always an interesting exercise due to twisting stairways! After 17 years we had to move out due to the owners moving on.
The top floor of the old gloving factory on Summer House Terrace in Yeovil provided the next clubroom. This provided another interesting stairway exercise in moving SJ to and from exhibitions. G W was completed here. After a period of 9 (11?) years, the Council, our landlords, asked us to vacate the premises to make way for re-development of the site.
Using his local knowledge member John Marshall found us a new home and we moved into an old chicken shed (The Chicken Shed – CS1) in Bower Hinton, Martock. Here we found respite from lugging the exhibition layouts up and down flights of stairs. It was a single story building…bliss. It had more space than previous clubrooms so we were able to expand. Two member’s private layouts, Yeovil Town and what is now called Holly Junction were accommodated. The Summit (TS) was born here thanks to the efforts Brian Draper. Unfortunately Brian passed away before seeing any trains moving on his creation. Once again after a period of time we were asked to vacate the premises due to change of ownership.
Once again John Marshal used his local knowledge of Martock and found us our latest clubroom CS2. The members set to cleaning, fitting secure doors, safe lighting and electrical ring mains and final coat of white paint to make it habitable. We still haven’t cured all the leaks in the roof though! With 7000 square feet of floor space available to us we were able to complete the scenery on the outside of The Summit. Further expansion of member’s layouts ensued. These now number Yeovil Town in 00; Holly Junction in 00; Halsdon Road in 0; a 7mm diorama Backwater and a 2mm layout Welton Down.
An O gauge layout of ‘Evercreech New’ featuring the work of Allan Downes has been donated to the club and this will become an alternative front to the fiddle yard built for The Summit and will require new connecting boards featuring Prestleigh Viaduct at one end and Pecking Mill Viaduct at the other. The intention is that Evercreech New will be operated with appropriate stock and DCC sound. Members have also embarked on three brand new club layouts. The first is an ambitious 00 fine-scale layout ‘Heyno Junction’ complete with flyover based on a well-known GWR prototype; the second a large N gauge quadruple track mainline layout, and in danger of topping them both, a whimsical extreme narrow gauge layout based on Wallace and Gromit characters produced by our youth section. The latter is being readied for its first exhibition with the others in the early stages of baseboard construction. These new layouts will complement the club’s existing South Junction, The Summit, Gas Works layouts and our Test Track.
John Marshall was able to oversee the move to the new clubroom, but sadly after a short illness passed away. The club owes a huge debt of gratitude to John for his unstinting work on behalf of the club, not least for our wonderful new clubroom. In recognition of this the club assisted in the sale of John’s model railway effects for the benefit of his widow and family.
Over the years the club has exhibited its three original layouts across the country, ExpoEM (at Paddington and Bletchley), Manchester, Ipswich, Warley (NEC) and Guildex to name but a few venues. We have only been abroad once, to Leipzig, with Gas Works in 2004. All three of the layouts have featured in magazines. Gas Works in MRJ (No.87), Railway Modeller April 1997 and lately in Model Rail (213 – September 2015). South Junction in the Hornby magazine (43 – January 2011), and The Summit in Railway Modeller April 2016 and Hornby Magazine (127 – January 2018).
The club itself has only ever held two exhibitions; the first to celebrate our 10th Anniversary and the second some 5 years later.
Entertainers with Model Railways – since 1974