History of the Group

The Heywood Model Railway Group was formed in 1969 by two or three enthusiasts who wanted to share their knowledge about model railways and they originally met at one of the founder members houses in Heywood. Hence the name, even though the group now have their permanent premises at Warwick Mill Middleton.

Interest in the group gained momentum and it was soon realized that something more permanent was needed in order to have the ability to run models and house a complete layout.

Premises were found in St Johns Church Rochdale in 1970 but were far from perfect. The roof leaked badly and heating was none existent. It was plainly obvious that these conditions were unsuitable and something better was looked for by the members.
Eventually The Group was offered rooms in the building at Champness Hall, Drake St. Rochdale where they were able to have model layouts permanently erected and work on them was not disrupted by having to pack them away after each meeting.

The Group began to exhibit their work first of all at the Drill Hall in Bury, which was used a couple of times and then at a Church hall in Radcliffe on another two occasions. St. James Church in Heywood was used for one exhibition but these church premises could only be used on the Saturday as they were needed on the Sunday for normal worship.

Eventually in around the mid 80's the Civic Hall at Whitworth was booked where the exhibition could be held over the whole weekend, which made it much more worthwhile setting everything up. The only real drawbacks with Whitworth were
a) its location making it very remote from the main areas of population
b) its size which limited the number of exhibits that could be displayed.
Nevertheless this venue became the location for the annual exhibition until 2001 and the group gained a reputation for producing a nice "Friendly Family" exhibition that was visited by around 800 to 1000 visitors each year.

It was eventually decided to test another venue that would be larger with a bigger "Capture area" and a trial exhibition was run in September 1999 at Holy Cross Bury. The results of this trial were very encouraging and it was decided that the last Whitworth exhibition would be in the March of 2000.

2001 saw our first annual exhibition at Holy Cross and it was a raging success. Feedback from visitors was excellent and for the first time they had been able to get a full meal if they wanted from the College Refectory.

Building on this success the large Hall at Holy Cross was used for 2002, 2003, and 2004. After the 2004 event it was thought that because of the amount of extension work that was going on at the College, which was in turn reducing the available parking, that we should perhaps explore the possibility of using nearby Bury College instead.
Bury College were contacted but they too were about to embark on a large extension which would run until September 2005. So once again we booked the large hall at Holy Cross for our 2005 exhibition hoping that most of their building work would be completed by March 2005.

Work on models continued during all this time with the venture into the 0-16.5mm Narrow gauge field with the layout called Penn-Y-Ffordd. This layout was actually booked to be exhibited before it was anything like complete and it has been one of the most successful models the club has ever been involved with. A full list of the events that this layout has been invited to would be too long to fit this page and it is still being booked well into the future.

On the "0" gauge front the club has a model called "Wrye" which is a large end to end layout.

In 2004 the Todmorden Model Railway Club folded and they offered their large partly completed "0" gauge continuous run to the Heywood Group. This has now been altered and finished off ready for the 2005 exhibition.

Less than 6 weeks from the 2005 exhibition disaster struck!! Just by chance the information that the large hall at Holy Cross may not be available was discovered. Our Exhibition Manager called the College and they indeed confirmed that the hall was being refurbished and would indeed not be available to us!!!! Why had they not checked the bookings and notified us earlier?? They had obviously known about this work for many months.
Well it was all hands to the pumps that week and its amazing how the whole membership pulled together with members reporting back with venues available at short notice.
We finally decided on our own building which has several large rooms that would be suitable and approached the owner of the building who understood our problem. He made two rooms available to us. The large room called "Rooftops" and a slightly smaller room below. After much planning and juggling the exhibition will go ahead at the new venue but how well we will do is something we have yet to find out.

Watch this space for feedback after March 2005
Well it all came good in the end!!
Despite our worst fears we managed to avoid running our 2005 Exhibition at a loss and thanks to the faithful followers of Model Railway Exhibitions we did manage to pay our way.
So the club can continue and we will for one more year be holding our 2006 Exhibition at Champness Hall. We are currently investigating other possibilities for events after 2006 which include Bury College and Heywood Civic Hall. Any news or developments on this will be reported here.

17th December 2005
The 2006 exhibition has again been booked at Champness Hall as Heywood Civic Hall is to undergo some updating during the early part of the year.
However we have now placed a deposit with the Civic Hall and have booked for March 2007. This should prove to be a good venue that we can use for some time to come with the prospect of well attended exhibitions.

2nd April 2006
Our exhibition for 2006 was again held at Champness hall and would have been one of our best had it not snowed heavily on the Sunday. This heavy snow had a dramatic effect on the attendance for that day with many people deciding not to venture out. We estimate that about 200 visitors chose not to risk the weather and stayed at home.
Feedback from those that did make it though was very good and many commented on our new display layout "Sumner Brook" which made its debut at the 2006 exhibition.
Work is now well under way on the modernization of the Heywood Civic Centre where we will be exhibiting in 2007 so unless there are any unforeseen disasters along the way you can look forward to a good exhibition at this new venue.

31st January 2007
As I pen this everything is in full steam getting ready for the 2007 event at the new Venue of the Heywood Civic Centre. In an attempt to make local people aware of the event we have negotiated with Dunnes Stores who are quite happy for us to put our "Thomas" layout on display the weekend before the Exhibition and it will be available for customers children to "have a go" driving the trains.
There will also be a childrens colouring competition run with the help of the "Heywood Advertiser" and a Hornby "Thomas" electric train set will be awarded to the winning entry.
This 2007 Exhibition should be the best ever presented by the group with plenty on display for everyone. There will even be a free Routemaster bus laid on from the Heywood ELR station to ferry people arriving by train to and from there to the exhibition.

22nd April 2007
The "Thomas" display at Dunnes store was certainly worthwhile with more than 200 children being awarded the "I have driven Thomas" certificate over the weekend. I'm sure that it made many families aware of the exhibition the following week and increased the turnout to the show. In addition there were a lot of entries for the colouring competition which again helped the public awareness of the forthcoming exhibition.
As far as the visiting public were concerned the March exhibition at our new venue of the Heywood Civic Centre was a great success and feedback from them was very positive. However from the clubs point of view it was a lot of work for very little gain and without the sponsorship we received from the Heywood Township and the sale of two of our disused layouts we could almost have made a loss at the event. A lot more care and planning will need to go into the 2008 event if we are to continue at this venue in the future.

May 2007
Sumner Brook is exhibited at the Stockport show and is awarded the cup for "Best in show".

August 2007
Rochwood is exhibited at the Skipton show and is well received by the visitors with many good comments made.

September 2007
The station on Sumner Brook is ripped up and work starts on replacing it with a better and stronger version before its next exhibition showing at Hazel Grove in October.

April 2008
A very successful exhibition was held during March where the attendance level was better than the previous year. Feedback from our visitors was very positive with many saying that they would be returning next year. Thanks are once again due to Dunnes Stores who let us put the Thomas layout on display the week before our show.
Work has now started in earnest on the new DCC layout after completion of all the baseboards. The web page for this layout will be updated as the model progresses.

May 2009
Another successful exhibition at Heywood Civic was held during March. There has been much demand for our Thomas layout over the last 12 months with it visiting 2 functions at Heywood Civic, a small exhibition at Martin Mere wild fowl sanctuary a Vintage Extravaganza at Tottington and an open day at Heywood Fire Station.
The DCC layout Lostwood Bridge is progressing well and should make it first public appearance at our 2010 exhibition.

March 2010
A great deal of effort has gone into two of our models this year in order to get them ready for our annual exhibition. These were Shawbury the fine scale 00 and Lostwood bridge a modern image 00 layout.
Shawbury was started several years ago and seemed to have stalled until a fresh set of members became interested in completing it. To encourage progress it was booked for the 2010 exhibition and the team worked hard on it to successfully meet the set deadline. The model was not completely finished but it seemed to work fairly well at its first outing.
Lostwood Bridge has been much quicker in growing into a completed model and it too was exhibited at our March show. There were some teething problems with the track alignment but the main disappointment was with the Heljan Crane that was intended to lift containers from flat wagons and stack them in the terminal. Unfortunately the crane let us down when the lifting ropes came off the mechanism inside the unit and it does not seem easy to repair.
The exhibition itself was a great success but down slightly on attendance possibly due to the current national financial situation and a Manchester United versus Liverpool football match on the Sunday.

July 2010
After over 8 years of trying for better premises for the club and getting nowhere the tide has at last turned. Heywood has a community bus service and the company running this recently moved into new premises that were larger than they needed. We were asked if we were interested in occupying the extra space and having measured it up we found that it offered a great improvement over our existing location. It is about half as large again and more importantly it is on the ground floor so no long flights of stairs to hump layouts up and down. It is also available to us 24/7 which is infinitely better than only having access when the caretaker was available at our old headquarters.
Currently there is a mass of activity which has seen the building of a partition wall to make our area secure and the dismantling of numerous layouts ready for shifting to their new homes.
It is now looking like we will be fully transferred to the new site by the end of August.

August 2010
Sooner than anyone thought possible we are in our new premises. So keen have members been that the first week in August saw a mass effort with several trips using a large box trailer and some large vans to shift layouts and other items from our old premises to the new one.
We have now moved all of our layouts, tools, lockers, cupboards and other items across to our new location. Some of the layout have actually been set up and are already working. There is still a great amount of sorting out and sifting to be done but we are getting there and will be fully organized in a week or so.

September 2010
On the 18th of September we had finally got everything in order and had the Official Opening of our new premises. Our N gauge layout Triptan Fell was bought by someone who spotted it for sale on our website and it has now been shipped off the Portsmouth for use as a fixed model.
To replace Triptan Fell work has started on a new N gauge that will be called Pilsworth. The name is to celebrate our new premises that are on Pilsworth Distribution Park. A model of our building will be included on the layout.

December 2010
The layout we were building for the Manchester Childrens Hospital was completed just before our deadline of of the 18th of December and was in fact delivered to the Hospital on Saturday the 11th. The layout consists of two ovals one inside the other to form a double track continuous run. It is fully scenic with a housing estate, a station, a large church and a great many trees doted around. There is even a flashing Fish and Chips sign.
A few days before we completed the layout we received some bad news from our landlord the "Heywood New Heart Community Transport" company that they were going into liquidation. This came as a complete shock to us as we had only just got our part of the building set up properly.
At the moment we are now looking for somewhere to at least store all our layouts etc. and ultimately a new permanent home for the group. It had taken us 8 years of looking to find our present home so at the moment things are looking very bleak for the club.

January 2011
Busy times now for the club with a lot of work to do.
We have just had several of the clubs and members own layouts on display at Martin Mere which never fails to amaze me as to the actual number of visitors we get looking at our models during the weekend and the keen interest shown by those visitors. Since it is a hobby weekend and not advertised in the Model Railway press it seems to attract over 2000 visitors which is more than double the number that would have come just to see the wild fowl.
Earlier this week we moved all of our models and equipment to Warwick Mill in Middleton. It is hoped that this is going to become our new home with over 2100 square ft available to us.
Once the go ahead is given we will have to build walls, fit power and lighting in the area as well as heating. This will keep the membership busy for a while before we can even think about setting our layouts up again.

March 2011
We are now just awaiting the actual lease for the space we are occupying at Warwick Mill in Middleton before we can spend a large amount of money on building the walls needed to segregate our rented space from the larger area on the ground floor of the mill. However we have made a start by giving the existing walls and ceiling a coat of fresh white paint and this has brightened it up considerably.
We held our annual exhibition for the 5th consecutive time at Heywood Civic Centre and as usual it was well attended by the modelling fraternity. Unfortunately this will be our last at this venue as the the new management of the centre are pushing prices so high that it is no longer affordable for us to us it. A search is now under way for an alternative for our 2012 exhibition.
Earlier in March we unfortunately lost our oldest member Ken Colby who never fully recovered from an earlier accident and passed away at home. He will be missed and many of our members attended his funeral.

May 2011
Rapid progress is now being made with the new club room at Warwick Mill with all of the inside skin of the new walls being completed along with the new access corridor and door. Large sections of the outside plasterboard skin have also been completed. Work is currently ongoing to provide the mains sockets in the required places so that we can dispose of the mass of extension cables that are currently in use.
Our search for a suitable place to hold our 2012 exhibition at a reasonable price has returned no suitable venue. It has been decided that we will make use of the ample space within the ground floor area of Warwick Mill for our next show.
Membership of the group has increased remarkably since we began to establish ourselves at our new home and it looks as though there are further people interested in joining. This is good news for the group as during 2010 and the early part of this year we lost 2 members through terminal illness and another 2 whose other commitments were preventing them from regularly attending.

July 2011
After lots of hard work by the majority of our members over the past 7 months, we have at last reached the stage of completing the new club room at Warwick Mill. On Wednesday the 27th of this Month the glass for the window openings in the stud walls we had constructed was fitted. This now gives us a secure area where all of the current club models can be erected and worked upon. There is still some work to do to finish everything off but the important part of making the new premises useable is now behind us. Over the next few months we will continue to improve the area by fitting heating in readiness for the winter and installing a suspended ceiling along with some display cabinets in the entrance hall.

November 2011
To celebrate the completion of the club room at our new premises within Warwick Mill it was decided to hold an open day on Saturday the 12th of November. We had a lot of visitors during the day who were very impressed with seeing most of our layouts up and running. Quite a lot of our members were able to attend on the day and children could play on Thomas or even have a go at driving one of our larger layouts "Rochwood".
Several of the days visitors have now joined the group. The day was a great success, enjoyed by everyone, members and visitors alike and a video of the event can be seen here.We are now contemplating holding a similar event next year.

May 2012
Our annual exhibition was this year held at Warwick Mill and our own club rooms and some layouts were included as part of the exhibition. The exhibition was a great success and all feedback from visitors was very positive. Our membership since moving to Middleton has continued to grow and we now have some 45 active members.
Our 00 gauge layout Rochwood was put up for sale at the 2012 exhibition and has now been taken to a new home in Southport. The replacement as yet unnamed has been started with the front and side panels built and a plan for the track drawn up.
The replacement for our Thomas layout is nearing completion and should soon be available for exhibitions.

March 2013
The 16th and 17th saw our second exhibition at Warwick Mill where 20 layout (if you include the G scale) were on display to our visitors. This year was even better than the previous one with more visitors arriving over the weekend. Interest was shown by some of the visitors in joining the group so we could see our membership reaching the 60 figure soon.
Feedback from people leaving was very good with many saying that it was better than some of the major events they had attended and that they were looking forward to returning next year.

April 2013
The layout originally called Lostwood Bank and then altered to become Middlewood Bank TMD has been broken up and some of the parts from it will be used to build a new layout that will be more reliable than the badly designed original. The webpage for the final version of the original can now be found in the Achive section under the Past Models heading.
On the 22nd of April we held our Annual General Meeting where some 40 members attended. This was a very strong turnout for the meeting. The existing committee were all re-elected and the possibility of extending the club room by another 950 square feet was debated. After the debate there was a unanimous decision to empower the committee to proceed with the extension.

October 2013
Just when we thought we had a permanent home at Warwick Mill the news filtered through to us that the mill has been sold. At this stage it is difficult to get any real answers about how long we have left at the premises but it seems fairly certain that at some time in the not too distant future we will be required to move out. With that in mind we have shelved the idea of extending so that a large continuous run 0 gauge layout could be built and started looking for possible alternative premises.
After again looking at several possible options for us we have settled on a place back in Heywood and at the moment we are looking at completing the move from Warwick Mill to the new premises next April after our March show.
These new premises have great potential being more than twice the size of our current space at Warwick Mill. It will enable the large 0 gauge layout to be built and after erecting all of our existing layouts there will still be room left for several members layouts to be housed for them to be worked on.
The months between November and next April will now be very busy with working parties getting the new premises ready for us to occupy fully in April 2014.
Watch this space for news as progress is made.

December 2013
We held our first Christmas social evening which was a great success. The event was organised by our Publicity Manager John Slater who arranged for a splendid buffet to be delivered and an entertaining quiz. In excess of 40 people made up of members and wives attended and the evening was enjoyed by all. I can foresee that this will become an annual event in the future.

January 2014
We now have the keys for the new premises in Heywood and much effort has been put in preparing the area for building the required walls for toilet and kitchen areas. It is on target for us to able to move our layouts in at the end of March after our annual exhibition has taken place.

February 2014
Several members have put in a lot of work on the new Heywood premises and it is on target to have the main facilities of Kitchen / Meeting room and toilets ready for the 31st of March which will be our last day at Warwick Mill.
It is unlikely that we will have everything fully completed in order to erect models and the time delay from moving in to having everything back working will very much depend on the effort made by all the members.

March 2014
On the 26th of March we completed the move from Warwick Mill in Middleton to our new headquarters at Park Works in Heywood three days ahead of time. This was due to the tremendous effort put in by many of the club members on the Monday club night who using their cars and a trailer made several trips loaded with layout sections and other items between the two places.
Then on the Wednesday another mass effort was made but this time with the help of our landlords 16 ton covered lorry to shift all the remaining items

May 2015
Just over a year has passed since the move to our headquarters in Heywood. After the move of all our layouts and stores from Warwick Mill it was several Months before we could set up the first of our layouts and start running trains. Much work was needed to complete the conversion of the old furniture factory into suitable premises for us to use. We had to build a workshop, a kitchen, office, toilets and a vestibule to segregate the drafty shutter door from the main area.
We then had to start getting ready for our 2015 exhibition which was to be held at a new venue of Rochdale Town Hall. This event proved to be very successful and well attended. Feedback from the event was good and it is planned to hold the 2016 event at this same venue.
Work has started on building a large 0 gauge continuous run layout with the intent of holding open running days for all the layout gauges. It is targeted to have this layout ready for use by July 2015.

October 2015
The 11th of July saw the first of our Monthly "open days". These are being held on the 2nd Saturday in each Month and the 4 so far have been very successful with lots of people turning up to look at our models or bringing their own stock to run on our layouts. Several of the visitors have since joined as new members which is great news.
The large 0 gauge "Heybury with Wrye" is progressing well and now has all 4 tracks working. The station and storage sidings will be working soon and the control panel to operate the points and isolating sections when running with DC will be installed.

November 2015
On the 18th we took the christmas layout and installed in the reception at Rochdale Town Hall. The layout is in G scale with a 10ft x 10ft continuous run around the Christmas tree. It took a number of our members a couple of Months to build it from scratch including the baseboards designed to be a proper fit around the tree.

February 2016
We have had a great setback this month with news that Rochdale Town Hall has double booked us for our Annual Exhibition weekend in March. Unfortunately the other booking was made a couple of weeks before ours so the exhibition will have to be cancelled for this year. We have tried to find alternative dates but on the weekends where the hall is free there are other nearby exhibitions that our trade support and some of the exhibitors will be attending. We have however made firm bookings with the Town Hall for our usual third full March weekend in 2017 and 2018 so at least next year the annual show can go ahead.

October 2016
Following the disaster of our annual exhibition having to be cancelled it was decided that we should try and keep the club on the map by holding an Open Day on the second Saturday of each Month. This has proved to be extremely popular and we have seen a good attendance of visitors at each event. As a result we have continued to hold these open days throughout the year and it is planned to continue with them into 2017.

November 2016
Attendance at our open days continues to be strong with a steady increase in the number of visitors. What is really encouraging is that they stay a long time with some people spending the full day with us. We have had Chris Barker from Todmorden Models attending the last 3 events with a small selection of his modelling tools on display and available for purchase. He has managed to make it worth him coming and his attendance has proved to be of mutual benefit for himself and the club.
Several new members have joined the club after attending one of our open days so they do seem to very worthwhile.
The large 0 gauge layout is really making progress now with a lot of scenery being added.. All of one end of the layout now has its points controlled by servo motors and soon the other end will follow. New controllers for analogue working have been ordered for this layout as the originals used are really for 00 gauge and have been found to "trip out" after a few minutes when running heavy locos.
The outer section of our 00 gauge Sumner Brook has also seen the replacement of its "Fulgarex" point motors with the servo system. the Inner section will follow soon.

March 2017
A G scale layout has been purchased by the club and erected inside the area covered by the large 0 gauge layout Heybury. This will be up and running before our next open day in April so visitors can now bring G scale stock to run as well as the N to 0 gauge that we have always had available.

John Essex Webmaster Heywood Model Railway Group


This page updated 12th March 2017