Kirkstall Abbey light railway model puts Pudsey model railway exhibition on right track

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Previous layouts at Narrow Gauge North 2

A model railway exhibition which has been pulling in enthusiasts from across the UK and the rest of the world is being held in Pudsey next weekend.

Narrow Gauge North 2023 takes place at Pudsey Civic Hall on Saturday, 11 March between 10.30am and 4.30pm.

It will feature a model of the Abbey Light Railway, which ran in Kirkstall between 1974-2012.

The event was first set up by model railway enthusiasts to help raise funds for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in 1994, and since then has gone from strength to strength to raise £110,000 for the charity.

Meeting: Pudsey Civic Hall. Copyright David Spencer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

One of the event organisers, Peter Kirkby, who has been involved in the specialist interest show since its inception, says he is looking forward to watching exhibitors, enthusiasts and the public roll in once again.

“Last year’s event marked our return after the pandemic, and we had around 400 visitors.” he said. “This year we’re keen to build on that and welcome as many people as possible to come down and take a look.

“Model building is such a great skill to learn as it touches on so many things and really opens up a world of opportunity around design and technology, architecture, science and engineering. We’re really keen to get more from all backgrounds – young and old – into it!

“Come along and find out more about everything involved – from building the board to building the track, the stock, the scenery, the buildings or the electrical work.”

A narrow-gauge railway is a railway with a track gauge that is narrower than the standard 1435mm and is often used for mountainous or rugged terrain.

“If someone wants to see or create a model railway that’s a bit different from what might be at a standard exhibition, then narrow gauge offers that. It means that rather than copying a prototype, modellers can really use their imagination and build something unique.”

Tickets for the exhibition, which is the largest of its kind in the north of England, cost £10 for adults and £1 for accompanied children under 16. A family ticket is £15.

“Our event is open to absolutely everyone,” added Peter. “It is a real family-friendly, all-inclusive show where you are welcome to come along and look at the model railways and layouts and ask any questions you like.”

There will be lots for visitors to see, with 21 layouts, 13 traders and 9 other stalls in attendance, who are all donating their time to be there for free to help raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice.

“We have selected a real variety of layouts to feature in this year’s show, ranging from those created in smaller spaces, to ones that are considerably larger and more adventurous,” says Peter. “There is a mixture of continental and British layouts and there will be an impressive model of the local Abbey Light Railway, which ran in Kirkstall between 1974-2012.

“What you notice is the attention to detail – how people capture the look and style of a place, right through to layouts which have sweeping views that you can see all the way across a valley with open green spaces, trees, rivers and bridges. It inspires people to have a go themselves and shows them what they can achieve.”

Putting on the show is a year-long labour of love, but Peter explains that support from the Kirkby family and railway friends has made it possible to put on a great show every year.

“My son Andrew took over the organising of the show in 2018, but shortly after last year’s event, he became unwell and sadly died at the start of 2023. During his illness, his son Oliver continued to support him with Narrow Gauge North and it’s really because of his efforts we can put on the show this year.”

Everyone involved in the show is thrilled with the huge amount that has been raised for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice.

For more information on North Narrow Gauge 2023 visit the website or email admin@narrowgaugenorth.org.uk.

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