Long-forgotten model of dale rail being restored
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A DUSTY old model railway which depicts stations in Teesdale is being restored, thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of pupils at Barnard Castle School.
The model, which is believed to have been constructed by pupils at the school in the 1970s and 1980s, shows some of the long-gone stations in the dale including Barnard Castle and Broomielaw, as well as a viaduct that spanned the River Tees. But the model was hidden beneath layers of dust.
Teacher Alan Beaty and school chaplain Father Darren Moore have revived the after-school model railway club, which meets once a week, after requests from pupils who showed an interest in the long-forgotten model.
Mr Beaty said: “The model was originally housed in the ICT building, but was moved about 20 years ago to the attic above what was the headmaster’s office and has laid dormant for years.”
For about the past three months, about pupils have been carefully cleaning, testing and repairing the model, which fills the room it has been placed in.
He added: “It’s an exciting task and there are about 12 children who have been working on it, but more keep coming and getting involved.”
But it’s not just pupils who are fascinated with the OO gauge model, which uses Peco flex track.
“It seems to attract a lot of people and we’ve had an awful lot of visits from other teachers who can’t resist coming to have a look,” said Mr Beaty. “We’ve even got the retired head of English, Andy Waddington, coming in to help out. It’s quite an impressive line and the children are doing the work really, we [adults] just seem to stand watching them.”
After clearing off all the dust, pupils set to cleaning the tracks with methylated spirits and foil. They have cleaned each of the points and tested them. One pupil, Freddy McCartney, has even taken some of the engines home to strip them down for a clean up.
Father Moore said: “It’s great to see the problem solving and working through to get each section working. They have had to install hundreds of metres of wire for each of the points and they are quite handy with soldering irons now.”
Most of the track is now functioning and the pupils are now concentrating on restoring all aspects of the model including cleaning and painting the scenery and replacing the miniature telegraph pole wires, which had become tangled. The pupils are keen to add to the model and hope to be able to improve on a side line that features Romaldkirk station by adding a link to another and constructing their own station based on the one which stood at Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Pupil John Lawson, who hopes to become an engineer, is a self-confessed railway fan and says he wants to include a colliery or quarry as well.