Railways at Romiley

21 September 2023

There is a close relationship between faith and trains. The Rev. W. Awdry shared his love of trains with millions of children and, through characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine, introduced generations to the enchanting world of model railways. The timeless world of Thomas and friends may be one reason why events such as the open day at Romiley Methodist Railway Modellers near Stockport are so popular.

romiley-railways-2The open day, held on 9 September, was attended by hundreds of families in the village and raised more than £1,800 for Action for Children.  The club is open to all and members of Romiley Methodist Church are still an important part of the club that continues to meet there.

The model railway club began in the late 1960's when the then church organist arranged a small model railway exhibition in the Sunday school for his son to exhibit his layout.

In 1979 the old Romiley Methodist closed due to dry rot, so the members worked with the nearby St Chad's Anglican Church and began to run joint exhibitions in the schoolroom with the layouts provided by church members. These shows proved so popular that the village came to a standstill as people flocked to them.

The annual show, now held at the rebuilt Romiley Methodist, attracts many families with children and is incredibly popular with around 1000 people attending. Unlike many railway shows, children are encouraged to play with most of the layouts that are on display.

“From the early days of the shows, it was important that the children were able to play with the trains themselves and the club now has over half a dozen layouts that children can operate” says Charles Hamilton, one of the founder members.

romiley-railways-3The club has twelve layouts of its own featuring real and imaginary locations close to home and far away, including Romiley Junction set in the 1950s and Goose Creek, depicting a logging camp in Colorado in the USA at the turn of the 19th century.

Two layouts, Danny at the Zoo and Danny at the Park, are aimed at the very young, featuring animals and easy to operate trains.   Danny at the Park began life back in the 1970s when the layout was built to go into local hospitals for the sick children to play with.

The minister who has responsibility for Romiley Methodist is the Revd Katie Smith. “The railway  open day means we get the community in, especially families, who can come and see what we're about as a church and we can chat with them. You never know what conversations we might have along the way.”

“The club members appreciate the chance to get together at the church and love showing off their work to the village once a year.”

Ken Morewood is club vice-chair and a steward at the church, he commented. “We have thrived over the years, we have about 20 active members. We meet here each Wednesday to drink tea, chat and work on the layouts. The church lets us meet for free and in return we put on our annual display with all the takings going to Action for Children.”  

“There is a lot of nostalgia here. It is nice to think that today’s children show an interest in what we do.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing children enjoying themselves.”

“We take our layouts to exhibitions around the North West and we do so in the name of Romiley Methodist Church. When we go, the church goes with us.”