It started out with a small group of like-minded people coming together nearly 40 years ago to share their common interest for all things in model engineering.
But it has turned into quite the journey and a runaway success for the enthusiasts of the Lancaster and Morecambe Model Engineering Society who continue to delight fellow hobbyists and families from their own miniature railway and station at Cinderbarrow, near Carnforth.
This month, dedicated volunteers of the society helped mark 50 years since the end of mainline steam engines on British Railways with an open day displaying model steam locomotives both steaming and static.
Every Sunday and Bank Holiday from March through to October, the members run their miniature trains at Cinderbarrow picnic site just off Tarn Lane, Yealand Redmayne.
Trustee Andrew Dunn, who took an interest in model engineering when he retired, and has been a member for four years, says: “Some people come from far and wide to see the small locomotives at Cinderbarrow.
“We have local families who come quite regularly and older people who just like to come and watch too.
“Our members volunteer for the running days. There are around 30 of them and like me very much enjoy giving visitors a ride around the railway.
“We have around 75 members in all and model engineering is what they do and are very good at, we have people with very good skill-sets, some don’t deal with locomotives at all but the Cinderbarrow Railway is very much a big part to keeping us going.”
The ground-level ‘ride-on’ track can accommodate models in 3 1/2”, 5” and 7 1/4” gauges. The landscaped circuit at the picnic area and clubhouse were built with the group’s resources and with the help of the donations of the many people who enjoyed riding the trains.
Formed in 1979, by model engineer enthusiast Karl Latimer, a group was quickly established and initially the then 20 members met monthly and had exhibitions of their models.
Three years later, the society was offered the use of a field at Steamtown in Carnforth, where using mostly scrap metals scavenged from around the site, they built a ground level miniature railway.
With a little wooden clubhouse to meet in, the first track opened in 1985 for members to operate their own locomotives and rolling stock and also allowing visitors of Steamtown the opportunity to enjoy this added attraction.
In 1996, the society took a new course with the closure of Steamtown to the public. The group re-routed to their present location at Cinderbarrow picnic site, just off the A6, and opened officially in October 2000.
At the start of the year, the society was given charity status and the trustees are in talks with Lancashire County Council for a long-term lease on the Cinderbarrow site and have plans to develop a new carriage house.
Andrew adds: “We have never charged visitors, Cinderbarrow runs on donations but that income is very much what helps to keep us going.
“We also do work with other organisations and put on days for people with learning difficulties and they are very much enjoyed, we also use the venue for hire for parties too, which helps with the maintenance and running costs.
“Our charity charter is an opportunity to work more with the community and as well providing enjoyment, we hope to inspire more to get involved with developing their engineering skills.”
The society is always seeking to extend their reach and open to new members.
Interests span all aspects of engineering in miniature from quarter size steam traction engines to clocks, military vehicles to civilian boats, motor vehicles to barn engines, among others.
For more information on the group visit http://www.lmmes.co.uk and on Facebook