Preview: Norwich Model Railway Club Exhibition

The nights are starting getting lighter and people are seeing their general mood lift as they can spend more time outside.

While many enjoy the winter period, it is the most preferable of months especially when living in the UK. The nights can seem to last for a long time while the minimal sunshine people do get to enjoy is usually hampered by freezing temperatures or howling gales. There is then, of course, the rain which seemingly pounds the British Isles on a daily basis.

So what a relief it is when the clocks go forward and people are making their way from work still in daylight and sometimes even having the luxury of not having to take a jacket or big coat to the office. Spring has almost sprung so it is no better time to get out and about to enjoy some of the various events happening in the UK during this period.

The steam and model railway community is making the most of this time of year and there are a host of rallies happening all over the country. However, in a small corner of Norfolk there is an annual exhibition that is looked forward to every year – Norwich Model Railway Club Exhibition.

It returns again this year and will be held at Hellsdon High School on Middletons Lane on April 11th. The club itself has been going for over 50 years after originally being formed in 1958 and these exhibitions give members an opportunity to show off some the intricate and impressive layouts they have been working on throughout the year.

This year’s event will see a cavalcade of different layouts created by some of the members. They range across all types of gauge including OO, N, OO9, and HOm and shows off the skills honed during their time with the group.

For example, Dave Smith will be bringing his N gauge Hansell Road layout, Eric Ransbury will be showing off his OO gauge Barsham Junction and there is a guest OO gauge Thomas layout from Roydon & Diss Model Railway Society. The Norfolk Mardlers and Advent Modellers are among the confirmed guests to be giving expert demonstrations for the various visitors.

A series of traders of announced their attendance for the event including Bob Pearman Books, Bure Valley Models Shop and Squires Tools are just some of the companies set to feature at the exhibition.

Admission is £5 for adults, £4.50 for concessions with accompanied under-16s going for free.

About the group

The Norwich Miniature Railway Society was founded in 1958 and been involved in the business of building layouts and the study of evolving prototype railways ever since. Among the first models to be produced by the group was a GER Class F7 2-6-4T and GER Class J15 0-6-0. Over the years, the society has developed a host of different models and layouts.

Obviously over the years, the group has had to modernise but it has always tried to stay loyal to its roots which is evident when visiting the exhibition.

What’s on: April steam rallies

As the clocks went forward on Sunday morning (March 29th), the long days of winter are seemingly gone and everyone is starting to look forward to spring and, ultimately, summer.

April kicks off with an early Easter weekend and people all over the UK will be already making plans of how they intend to spend their four-day weekend. While you can never really predict what the weather will be like, no doubt there will be fingers crossed throughout the country for some dry conditions so they can get out and about to enjoy this break.

The steam community will also be holding a series of events during Easter and throughout the whole of April as everyone starts to feel a little more upbeat following the gloom of winter. The National Traction Engine Trust has once again issued an authorised list of the various steam rallies going on this month.

Here are the highlights happening across the UK during April.

St Dennis Steam & Vintage Rally – St Austell, Cornwall (April 3rd to 5th)

Kicking off the month is an Easter celebration of all things steam in the picturesque town of St Austell in Cornwall. The St Dennis Steam & Vintage Rally is the latest event of its ilk to be launched in the region. Held over the Easter weekend, it will showcase of the finest steam and vintage engines around.

Visitors are encouraged to submit their own vehicles whether it be a steam engine, tractor, commercial or stationary engine, vintage motorcycle or anything else that fits the bill. The day will see a host of exhibits alongside a vintage fair with traders, crafts and model displays throughout.

Camborne Trevithick Day – Camborne, Cornwall (April 25th)

Another treat for steam enthusiasts in Cornwall is the return of the Camborne Trevithick Day. The event will see a host of steam engines parade through the streets of this corner of the south-west. Traffic will come to a standstill as these magnificent engines make their through the town.

There will be a host of things to see and do for all the family. From model exhibitions, complete with miniature steam engines, to vintage vehicles to street entertainers and fairground rides, there is just so much to enjoy about this event. Concerts by Camborne Town Band and other local bands will soundtrack what is bound to be a great day out.

Riverside Steam & Vintage Rally – Southport, Merseyside (April 25th and 26th)

Up in the north-west of England, Southport will play host to the Riverside Steam & Vintage Rally on April 25th and 26th. Over 20 full-size steam engines will be on show including a selection of Showman's Engines as well as 20 miniature steam engines. There is also the chance to take a ride on the 100-year-old Steam Gallopers.

Fans of vintage cars are in for a real treat as there will be a number of Formula 1 cars of yesteryear and visitors can even win tickets to the Goodwood Revival to see the motors in action. Music will be provided by Wigan Ukulele Club while there is an outdoor bar as well as afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco available.

Visiting the world’s train graveyards

Tuning into Channel 4 on any given day, you will no doubt eventually see an ident featuring an airplane graveyard in a dusty desert.

This is Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California and it has been where airplanes have been coming to retire for years. Sites such as these are the final resting point for mighty birds that have patrolled the skies for decades and can make for magnificent viewing. Some planes are stored to be used for spare parts while others are just left to bask in the sun.

These graveyards are fairly common across the world with nine currently spread across the southern states of the US. Australia, the UK and Kyrgyzstan also have similar arrangements with Britain's formerly being at RAF Shawbury. It was originally opened following the end of World War II but was decommissioned and shut down in 1972.

It is not just planes that these graveyards are reserved for. In recent years, there has been the discovery of a series of train graveyards found across the US, parts of South America and Europe. There is a sense of macabre when gazing upon what was once a powerful engine reduced to not much more than a decaying piece of metal.

So what are the most talked about train graveyards across the world? Here are of the best that the globe has to offer.

Railway Museum Graveyard – Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Cincinnati's Railway Museum Graveyard is one of very few of its kind that has actively created a shrine to the locomotives of yesteryear. First opened in 1975, this four-acre museum has a wide array of abandoned and decommissioned trains. The majority belonged to the seven railways that enter Cincinnati and are relics of the city.

Yanov Abandoned Train Station – Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat was once a bustling city in the north of Ukraine, close to the border of Belarus, but the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 turned this part of Eastern Europe into a ghost town. People have gradually left the area after the incident, leaving places like Yanov Station.

The abandoned station is a timely reminder of Ukraine under the rule of the Soviet Union with trains harking back to that era. It also has an eerie feel to it as it lies less than half a mile from the infamous 'Bridge of Death' where locals were killed by massive radiation poisoning during the disaster.

Winslow Junction – New Jersey, US

Unlike the Cincinnati and Pripyat, Winslow Junction in New Jersey highlights the decline of railway industry in certain parts of this expansive country. Winslow Junction was once one of the busiest junctions on the east coast of the US and was the base of the Southern Railroad; over the years it has been left to rot.

This part of the US's railway network was the site of a famous train crash when in July 1922 an Atlantic City-bound train known as The Owl derailed travelling at 90mph resulting in the death of seven people, injuring many others.

Youngest steam train driver qualifies for mainline services

The youngest steam train driver in over 40 years has qualified on the mainline.

Jim Clarke completed his testing as he "passed out" as a certified driver after taking the Belmond British Pullman from London Victoria to Guildford, Surrey. The 33-year-old is believed to be the youngest person to achieve this accolade since 1968 and follows in the footsteps of father, Don who had driven steam engines since the 1960s.

Clarke Senior spent 49 years working on the railways before his retirement and has been working alongside his son to allow him to achieve this prestigious qualification. His father explained that driving a steam train requires "sheer physical effort" and that he was immensely proud that his son had gained the accreditation.

Prior to the exam, Mr Clarke Junior said: "A good few years of work has gone into it. Before, you have to be passed out as a fireman, work your time, be put forward for driving, go through the training and then hopefully today pass the driver's exam."

The Belmond British Pullman is one of the most prestigious and luxurious steam trains ever to grace the UK's tracks. Stepping aboard the luxurious carriages that have been pulled on famous 1920s services such as The Brighton Belle and The Golden Arrow. It passes through some magnificent scenic views while passengers can enjoy champagne and gourmet cuisine.

It is a voyage not only through the British countryside but also through time. Passengers are treated to a five-course lunch as the train makes its way along the circular tour of the area.

Securing a qualification to drive a locomotive of this level of prestige is a huge honour and now Mr Clarke will be looking forward to running steam services on the mainline.

Meet the eco-friendly steam locomotives

Thinking about steam trains conjures up images of locomotives barrelling through the countryside with plumes of white smoke billowing from its funnel.

For generations this has been a regular sight for passengers and trainspotters alike but, as you can well imagine, steam trains are not the most eco-friendly vehicles in the world. Tonnes of coal is carried on the back and then burned to ensure these power engines keep happily chugging away.

As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the effects of global warming, transport has become an area where we can 'go green'. Over the years, the introduction of the hybrid car, electric train and even the proposed solar-powered plane has shown that people are getting serious about reducing their carbon footprint.

In Arizona, a steam engine company is following suit. In the city of Williams, is the start of the Grand Canyon Railway which offers steam locomotive journeys to the south rim of this wonder of the world. These magnificent engines are the quintessential US train, but have one very unique difference – they are run on vegetable oil.

Since 2008, the railway has replaced its coal and wood-fired burners with those that run entirely on waste vegetable oil. This has allowed more steam engine excursions to take place without harming the beautiful landscape around the Grand Canyon.

This weekend (March 21st) sees a very special event with passengers being able to experience the canyon aboard the No. 4960 locomotive. Starting from Williams, the service heads north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park where people can enjoy the stunning scenery this part of the world has to offer.

The two-and-a-half journey to the canyon takes in all the beautiful sights this corner of Arizona has. Travelling at an elevation of 5,000 feet it can be one of the most memorable trips a train-lover could go on.

Hogwarts Express steam train to join Warner Bros Studio Tour

It has quickly become one of the most famous steam trains across the globe and now movie fans will be able to see the Hogwarts Express in all its glory.

Anyone who has seen JK Rowling's Harry Potter franchise of films will be familiar with this locomotive. Responsible for ferrying Harry, Ron and Hermione to Hogwarts for the very first time in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone the train has been an ever-present throughout the series.

Who could forget when Harry and Ron steal the flying car and are almost run off the Glenfinnan Viaduct by the Hogwarts Express? The locomotive has had a number of memorable scenes in the film series and has been commemorated at London King's Cross Station with a special Platform 9¾ exhibition.

Now, film buffs and steam train enthusiasts will be able to view the Hogwarts Express in all its glory as it becomes a main feature of the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. The 5972 Olton Hall locomotive forms part of a new exhibition which opens on March 19th.

Visitors will be able to sit in the same seat as Harry and enjoy some chocolate frogs while, thanks to Oscar-winning special effects artist John Richardson, the locomotive will be rigged with artificial steam. The exhibition has already been impressing some of the cast members.

Mark Williams, who played Ron's father Arthur Weasley, said: "I've really enjoyed being back at the Studio Tour, seeing the original Hogwarts Express and the superb recreation of Platform 9¾

"People don't always realise that the school train was in fact a real working locomotive which has been transporting passengers up and down the country since 1937."

The route of the Hogwarts Express was filmed in the Scottish Highlands running along the line of the current Jacobite Steam Train. This journey provided stunning sweeping shots of Ben Nevis, Steall Falls and the surrounding lochs.