A BIG year is ahead for Bognor regis fans of model railways.
The town’s club for enthusiasts of the mini-layouts is set to move into its own piece of railway heritage.
Work on the former Barnham signal box is nearing an end. The club of some 40 members is likely to move into the premises alongside its existing base at Aldingbourne Sports and Community Centre in late spring.
The news was given to visitors to the club’s annual exhibition last weekend. Some 1,500 people took the chance to enjoy the locomotives on show at Felpham Community College.
Club chairman Adrian Taylor said: “This period of time is absolutely fantastic for the club.
“We are going to be moving into the former signal box and we opened our community building in a former barn last summer. We’ve also installed an outdoor railway.
“We’ve gone from an old lawnmower shed to those facilities in a short period.
“We are very lucky. This is going to be a very exciting year, probably the most exciting in the club’s 65-year history.
“This exhibition is the start of it and it sets us up nicely.”
The exhibition featured 14 layouts in a range of gauges.
One with a personal significance to the club was the Selsey Town station which recalled its light railway of the 1920s and 30s.
Its owner, Keith Smith, commissioned a locomotive named after the club’s late chairman, John Hayward, and it was running on the O gauge 16ft X 16ft layout at the exhibition.
Julian Tyrwhitt, who was in charge of the layout for the weekend, said: “We often have people talking about their house in relation to the railway.
“Some people say their house is featured on the layout. Others are disappointed their’s has been missed out.
“Quite a lot also talk about their parents and grandparents using the railway and all the stories about that.”
Hunston resident Neil Holmes, whose house is near the former track, contributed a mass of written facts about the railway to accompany the layout.
Other layouts included Lulworth Camp, Aldingbourne Central, Zeldomsee and Trenance Down.