Britain’s ‘biggest’ miniature railway has been secretly built in the Yorkshire Industrial Unit for the past eight years



Simon George has spent eight years on his model so far.
Simon George has spent eight years on his model so far.

Simon George, 53, keeps the superb scale model in a basement basement of an industrial unit in Wakefield and has been working on the super structure for over eight years.

At 192 feet in length and with such intricate detailing that it has already caused a sensation among enthusiasts, it will now be brought to the attention of the general public when on display at Market Hall in Wakefield in December.

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This is the first step in what Simon hopes will become a new business venture, introducing the model to Britain and even Europe.

Simon managed to put together 500 photos so he could faithfully recreate the 1983 scene.

Admitting that he was fed up with his previous business, an experienced supercar business, he sold his share and began to think about his options.

He had already started assembling his railway creation in his old office in Birmingham, but then moved it to Wakefield, where it began to take shape and take its time.

But what started out as a hobby has presented itself as a potential business opportunity.

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He said: “For the first three months I told my girlfriend that I was working as a wine merchant, and when she came here she said ‘there is not a lot of wine here!’.

“Halfway through, I thought, ‘I could make a deal out of this.’ During confinement, I spent my days here on my own. I don’t know if it’s the biggest in Britain, but the model press has said they don’t know of another that’s bigger.

With incredible accuracy, it depicts a 1.5 mile stretch of actual trail at Heaton Lodge Junction in Mirfield in 1983.

And nostalgia never ceased to fuel his enthusiasm.

“It all started because I used to spend a lot of time at Heaton Lodge as a 12-year-old watching trains go by,” he explained.

“I had fond memories of it all. I wasn’t even into model railroads – it could easily have been a park or a corner store that I had memories of.

To get the exact details, Simon managed to put together around 500 photos of the track area from 1983, so he could recreate every bush, hedge and patch of grass.

A photo he found even captured him when he was young, leaning over a fence, watching a freight train go by, which he recreated on the model.

What’s even more impressive is that the model is largely bespoke.

Painting a dark scene in the middle of winter, there are realistic looking bare trees made from car battery wire and 3,000 copper ferns that he painstakingly painted by hand.

The sheets are genuine – crushed and glazed to keep them from rotting – while half a ton of ballast has been crushed to look like track chips.

There are even rocking sofas on the shore, while tiny Tesco carry bags, with an authentic 1983 design, can be found hanging from branches and railroad ties along the stretch.

“It’s like it’s captured in time,” added Simon.

“It’s a very accurate map of where everything was, even down to the graffiti and the hedges. It’s as far away as you can get from a Hornby Model Railroad.

Music mogul and model railroad enthusiast Pete Waterman will travel to Wakefield and officially open the Simon George exhibit.

Simon explained, “He has a great interest in model railroads and has made contact.

“He has a passion and wants to bring his passion to a larger audience, so he offered to help.

“He exhibited one at Chester Cathedral and drew 44,000 visitors to see it, and it’s not as big as this one.

“If I could get half of it, I’d love to.

Such is the colossal task of transporting the model, it will take eight people a full week to dismantle and reassemble the parts.

There are 115 sections which need to be slowly separated and then marked to ensure they can be put back together once they reach the Wakefield Indoor Market.

Two semi-trailers will be used to transport them.

Once in service, 28 trains will run at the same time automatically, including steam locomotives.

Electrical time signs will also be in place to inform visitors of when the next steam engine is due.

Simon, who is sponsored by Danish model train company Heljan, is hopeful that if the Wakefield exhibition is successful he will take him on a tour of Britain next year.

Then he hopes to take her to Europe, starting with Denmark to help repay the faith Heljan displayed. The exhibition will be held at the Wakefield Covered Market from December 4 to 21.

Simon George’s model railroad will be shown on television this winter as part of a series devoted to the history of the famous model railroad company Hornby.

The Kent-based company’s first clockwork train went into production in 1920.

Although Simon does not use Hornby gear, he will still play a role in the documentary series, which will be titled Hornby: A Model World.

There will be 10 episodes, each one hour long, and will air on the digital channel, Yesterday, later this year.

He will follow the company’s engineers, model makers, as well as collectors and model store owners.

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