Harrogate Model Railway Group

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Club/group history

The club was started in the 1980s as an after-school club at the old Granby High School in Harrogate. There followed a ‘nomadic’ period in the club’s history, when it moved to a number of schools in the Harrogate district, before finding a permanent home at the United Reform Church on the Skipton Road, in the late 1990s.

At its new home, the club started to grow, regularly hosting its annual exhibition on August Bank Holiday Mondays. The exhibition was held in the church hall for many years, but later expanded into the church itself, offering scope to host layouts from other clubs and individuals. The club also held its annual open day every March, to display its own layouts. Over the years this grew to become a full-blown exhibition with many visiting layouts.

In 2021, with the Covid pandemic still ravaging the UK, the club decided that due to the need to maintain social distancing, a growing membership and limited exhibition space, the church was longer able to satisfy the club’s requirements. A search for an alternative venue began, which led the club to St Aidan’s, another school in Harrogate.

With the move to St Aidan’s decided, the club started to move to its new home in July 2021. The move highlighted the fact that the club needed to become more professional and financially stable, and the Harrogate Model Railway Group was founded. The club’s originally-intended name, Harrogate Model Railway Club, when shortened to HMRC, had unfortunate connotations with HM Revenue and Customs! The group completed its move to its new home during the school holidays, re-opening in September 2021.

The first exhibition at the group's new home was held in February 2022, in the Constance Green Hall, part of the St Aidan’s school complex, proving to be a great success. The venue had a larger floor area than that of the Reform Church, offering scope to accommodate more exhibitors, along with improved catering facilities.

The group has a number of layouts which it operates at shows and exhibitions. Some of these layouts are owned by the group, others by group members, who exhibit their layouts on behalf of the group. The current list of layouts includes:

Layout nameGaugeOwnership
Brick Hill OO9 Club member
Colinton P4 Club member
Johnstown N Club member
Knaresborough Goods † OO Group
Knaresborough Viaduct OO Group
Levisham N Group
Little Aire OO Group + club member
Manorlea OO Club member
Norchard N Club member
Pateley Bridge †† OO Group
Shirebrook West N Club member

† Layout undergoing renovation.
†† Layout under construction.

The Little Aire layout was featured in the April 2022 edition of Railway Modeller magazine. A PDF copy of the review can be read or downloaded by clicking here. (The article is reproduced in full with the kind permission of Railway Modeller magazine.)

Group members hail from all walks of life, and encompass both young and old alike. All have a common interest in model railways and railways in general, both here in the UK and further afield. Skills amongst the members are wide and varied, and include scratch building, electrics, layout design, railway history and rolling stock building and maintenance. Some of the members support local heritage railways in the area, such as the Wensleydale Railway and the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.

Group meetings are usually held on Mondays and Thursdays. Monday sessions tend to focus more on matters such as repairs to existing layouts, work on new projects and so forth, along with occasional tutorials on topics such as layout electrics, scenery building and DCC operation. Thursday sessions are focussed more on ‘internal’ projects, such as the group’s test layout development, locomotive and stock testing and running, scratch building and so on. There’s always plenty of chance for a general chin wag, where events of the day are often discussed over a cuppa and a biscuit, and the world is put to rights!

New group members are always welcome. Annual adult membership is currently £70.00 (which can be paid in two instalments of £35.00), and a £2.00 charge is levied for all group meeting attendances per person, regardless of age. The charges contribute towards the group’s funding. Membership and attendance fees are subject to periodic review and change as necessary. Prospective members can attend up to four meetings without charge.

Visitors and group members under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times in accordance with current UK safeguarding legislation. Should a minor wish to become a member no charge will be made until they reach 18 years of age, but their membership must be registered. Responsible persons accompanying minors must become members, the adult membership fee as outlined above being applicable. For further details please contact the group. A PDF copy of the group's constitution can be read or downloaded by clicking here.

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