The Folkestone, Hythe & District Model Railway Club was founded in 1950 by G.P.Keen
(of the Model Railway Club of Great Britain) and Captain Howey (of the Romney, Hythe
& Dymchurch Railway) together with W.P.F Kelly, Colonel Tyrrell and a few other local
wealthy model railway enthusiasts.
Over the years many local influential people joined the club and it was akin to a
Gentlemen’s Club. No modelling, to speak of, seems to have taken place on club nights
- in those early days visits were made to members’ layouts, other railway venues
and talks given. They met on a regular basis at the Library in Grace Hill.
In 1956 a static display of locomotives and rolling stock was held in what is now
Woolworths. The club produced a magazine in 1957 called “The Chronicle” detailing
the club’s activities. During the late 1950's interest in the club seemed to decline
and in the 1960's it was reformed on democratic lines but again over the following
ten years membership declined.
The club as we know it was re-launched in 1972 by Doug Richards and together with
a few others they met in a small dance studio at the bottom of the Old High Street.
After several moves to various locations in and around Folkestone, the Club finally
settled into the Over 60's Club at Broomfield Hall in Cheriton. The Over 60's Club,
with the help of the Model Railway Club, managed to obtain Lottery funding to rebuild
The first of what was to become our annual exhibitions began in October that year
in the Public Library and over the next few years progressed to the Town Hall, Marine
Pavilion and in 1985 the Leas Cliff Hall.
Like the club, the magazine has been through troubled times but was re-launched in
1984 as “Fishplate”, followed by a revamp to a new format in 1992. The club now
consists of 45 active members. Club activities include building and improving club
and private layouts, field trips, modelling and photographic competitions and film
shows in our meeting venue in Cheriton.
After the New Broomfield Hall rebuild, the Club set about redeveloping our old layout
store room. This involved purchasing the land, demolishing the old ramshackle store
room, and designing and building a new large store room and workshop. We store the
various club layouts and displays whilst working on new and existing layouts.
The Club does not own the locomotives and rolling stock which are run on the layouts.
These are owned and supplied by our members.
With the number of active members we have, our areas of interest are wide and varied.
We therefore model in a range of scales & gauges including: N Gauge, OO Gauge, EM
Gauge, O Gauge, 00 Finescale.
There are also diverse interests in terms of era, traction types and geographical
locations covered. For instance, one of our N gauge layouts depicts diesels in the
1980's to the present in America, whereas the 00 finescale layout covers the 1940's
and 50's, running steam trains on the Hythe branch line.
At present the Club has eight layouts either in use or under construction. Some
members also own layouts privately, but belonging to the Club means we can build
large layouts more quickly for minimal personal outlay, as subscriptions and income
from our successful annual 2-day exhibition at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone
pay for materials. Most layouts are built not by experts but seasoned amateurs who
have built up their experience by trial, error and experimentation. Tricks and tips
are passed on from club member to club member, club to club as we all enjoy this
miniature hobby. A major benefit of being a club member is that we can also call
on other members to assist with skills that are outside our own area of knowledge.
If you look round any model railway exhibition you will see the high quality of craftsmanship
and perhaps think “I could never do that”. Think again. Every one of us started knowing
very little about the hobby, but have become more knowledgeable over the years. We
have become experts in our own fields in miniature, such as carpentry (building the
baseboards), electricians (signalling), decorators (painting scenery), civil engineers
(bridge building) etc etc, not forgetting, of course, our very own O.V.S. Bullied
to build the trains themselves! A professional carpenter who spends his working life
building furniture etc will end up becoming an expert electrician, working in miniature.
Our layouts have been exhibited and acclaimed in many parts of the country and abroad
over the years and invitations are continually being received.
We are always looking for new members and would encourage you to come along to one
of our meetings to see what we do for yourself.
If you are interested in joining us or finding out more about the club, please contact
our Club Secretary.