A group of model train enthusiasts will soon have a permanent home after the region’s only scale model railway group received $128,000 in funding it needed to rise from the ashes after their former temporary location was destroyed by vandals during a suspicious fire in 2019.
The Canberra Monaro N Scale Group has had somewhat of a nomadic existence since it formed more than 20 years ago, moving its trains, tracks and displays between scout halls and locations in Canberra and Queanbeyan.
NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro will allow the group to relocate their miniature locomotives in a permanent home at one of three potential sites in Queanbeyan, with two options being near the town’s railway station.
Canberra Monaro N Scale Group president Pat Gagel said the group’s members spend long hours making and maintaining the model trains and displays, along with setting up just to keep their hobby on track.
Storage is also an issue, with many of the group’s 32 members storing the equipment in their homes.
N scale model railway is a popular model railway scale. The Canberra Monaro N Scale Group operates as a non-profit organisation promoting N scale model railways in the ACT and surrounding region of NSW.
The funding was secured after the group made numerous submissions to the ACT and NSW governments since the fire that destroyed one of their temporary locations in Queanbeyan.
“Canberra Monaro N Scale Model Railway has been around for more than 20 years and for the majority of that time it has relied on the goodwill of our members to store our modular railway and equipment at their homes,” said Mr Gagel.
“This funding will mean we will finally have a suitable home for the group and will be able to offer more activities and opportunities to meet up with our many members.
“We have members aged as young as 11 right up to 92 years of age, with our main focus being to build up our camaraderie through the common interest of N scale model railways.
“We are excited about where this is all going and, who knows, at some point in the future it could even become a tourist destination.
“We need a space of at least 200 square metres, which means we’ve been laboriously setting up and packing down everything, either in people’s homes or scout halls.
“With our own facility, we can run clinics and workshops any time. We do everything from electronics, trackwork, scenery, woodwork, airbrushing, painting and making the model trains. It’s a lot more than just watching trains go around.”
Mr Barilaro said the funding is part of a statewide allocation by the NSW Government to support a range of improvements to men’s sheds located on Crown land.
“Organisations such as the Canberra Monaro N Scale Model Railway play a vital role in providing a sense of purpose and self-esteem to members of the community, as well as forging vital community connections,” he said.
“Since a suspicious fire destroyed the group’s shed in 2019, the local men have been left without a permanent place where they can catch up with friends, undertake projects, stay mentally and physically healthy, and contribute to their local community.
“This funding will support a rebuild of the shed, providing a renewed space where members will be able to meet more regularly and share their passion for scale model railway.”
For more information, head to the Canberra Monaro N Scale Group website.