EVERY Tuesday and Thursday night for decades a small group of men have gathered in a room above a church hall in Sheffield to tinker with engines and bits of plywood and brass.
Railway modelling is a quiet hobby, based on concentration, design, knowledge and history.
But once a year the 20 members of the Sheffield Model Railway Enthusiasts are able to shout about their skills.
They bring out their designs and put them on display in a massive exhibition that attracts people from across the country.
“We get between 1,000 and 2,000 people coming through,” said Kevin Rayworth, manager of the exhibition at Birkdale School, Broomhill.
“The families stay for an hour or an hour and a half. But the real enthusiasts will stay most of the day.”
The event is one of the largest club-organised exhibitions in the region with 20 railway layouts on display, many brought by visiting clubs and individuals from as far afield as Kent, Leicester and Barrow-in-Furness.
The designs range from tiny, fiddly displays to a massive 30-foot long French design.
Kevin, aged 61, an architect by trade, first became interested in railways when he was six.
“It’s a hobby that uses all sorts of skills,” he said. “From the carpentry and woodwork of putting the base together, to the engineering and fiddling with the engines, getting the electrics right and the artwork of designing the scenery of the layouts.
“There is also the history of it, making the sets fit the period.”
Although he admits most enthusiasts are mature men, there are a few keen youngsters involved.
Chris Saxby, aged 19, from North Anston, is a law student at Sheffield University and a member of the Sheaf Valley Model Railway Club.
“I’ve grown up with railways,” he said. “My dad has always been involved and I started going along to exhibitions with him.
“I find it interesting in general. It’s a bit about the history, of getting it right.
“My mates make a few jokes about it but they aren’t really bothered - they know it’s what I do in my spare time.”
Matthew Rose, 26, from Hillsborough, said: “People get into it when they are kids, and then they come back to it when they are older and discover a whole different side to it.
“The interest for children is just running the trains, but then you get into the other aspects and try to create your own layouts.”
Matthew’s day job is a dream for a railway enthusiast.
“I’m a signaller for Network Rail, based out at Edale,” he said. “The interest came first and then I was unemployed and the job came along.”
n The Sheffield Model Railway Enthusiasts meet at Carterknowle Methodist Church rooms in Edgedale Road every Tuesday and Thursday evening.