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The Most Expensive Model Railway

in the World

During the lockdown may people have returned to, or taken up hobbies. One popular hobby is model railways. Did you know that one of the best model railways in the world was once constructed in Worsley?

 

The 1898-9 edition of The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine carried an article on “A £10,000 Toy”, which was described as the most expensive miniature model railway system in the world. It was owned by Mr. Percy Leigh of Brentwood, Worsley and was built in a room specially built onto the house. Presumably, model railway kits were not available at this time and so the whole construction was made by Messrs Lucas and Davies. The 276 feet of double line track was made of steel specially rolled in Sheffield. There were 2,000 pitch pine sleepers, 4,000 cast-iron chairs and 16,000 screws holding them in place.

 

"The line started from Oakgreen, the principal station, where were located the offices of the management. In front of the buildings was a platform twenty-four feet long, provided with the usual seats and other conveniences for passengers, of whom a few could be noticed waiting for the express to convey them to their destinations. The platform was sheltered from the elements by a glass roof, while the gates admitting to it were of the regular palisade type. At the further end was a passenger footbridge of trellis-work covered over; it stood high above the line, and was reached by two staircases. Behind the station proper was the goods station and siding, forty feet long, the goods shed itself being four feet long. Both of these stations, and indeed the other station and the whole line, were beautifully lit up, when necessary, by electric lamps fitted with reflectors. There were in all forty-eight of these soft, lovely lights.

 

The locomotive, with its tender, was five feet long and about eighteen inches in height. It was of six inch

gauge, and was an exact duplicate on a small scale of an express of the London and North-Western Railway. It was a real working locomotive, most exquisitely made. Compared with the full size trains its boiler hadn’t the usual number of tubes, it had no injector, and steam was got up in it by a charcoal fire.

 

There were both a passenger train and a goods train. The former consisted of three carriages and a guard’s van. One carriage was a first-class corridor, a second was a third-class corridor, and the third was a complete first-class and third-class carriage. Each of them was fitted with the usual upholstered seats found in compartments belonging to their classification; there were hat racks and blinds, mirrors and lavatories and so forth in every carriage; there were carpets, too, on the floors of the first-class.

 

The London and North-Western Railway took a friendly interest in the smallest, and supplied it with the drawings and models from which it and its rolling stock had been imitated. Mr Leigh opened the railway on a number of occasions for visitors and thus raised funds for charity."

 

Written by Paul Hassall, Eccles & District History Society

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