Bromsgrove Society of Model Engineers caters for model engineering enthusiasts in the Bromsgrove area. Although most of our members are primarily interested in railways, several club members have modelled in other fields, such as stationary engines and traction engines.
We have tracks and a clubhouse situated at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, located just off the Bromsgrove bypass, details of which can be found on our "Public Information page".
We hold club meetings on the last Sunday of the month, except for December, when we have no meeting. Those from May to August are on the last Wednesday of the month, usually at the track, but the others are held in the clubhouse. Check the "Information for Members" page. We also meet at the track on Sunday mornings, and there is a regular "Tuesday Gang" which provides rides for schoolchildren visiting the museum on that day.
There are around 65 members in the society, and this number has remained fairly constant over the years, although there has been an increase recently since the explosion of interest in garden railways. Geographically they are spread over much of Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
If you would like to join us, then we would be pleased to see you at any of our meetings, or send us a message through our "Contact us" page.
A short history
In 1982, Frank Armishaw, having recently retired, decided to start a model engineering society in Bromsgrove. Accordingly, he organised a public meeting in March of that year, and some thirty people turned up. With this encouraging start the society was formed, with the first lecture being given by founder member Jim McQuaid, who had previously lectured at Dudley College of Further Education.
The Society looked around for a track site, since although it was (and still is) open to all types of modellers, by far the majority were interested in railways. Bromsgrove Council was approached, and they were amenable to the society having a track in Sanders Park, Bromsgrove. Negotiations stalled when the council insisted that it would not be possible to fence the railway. Concerned about the possibilities of vandalism, the society carried on looking for an alternative.
As well as his model engineering interests, Jim McQuaid was a volunteer blacksmith at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings on the outskirts of Bromsgrove, and he approached Michael Thomas, Director of the Museum, with a view to the Society setting up in a field behind the Museum shop. An agreement was soon reached, and with a grant of £300 from Bromsgrove Council’s lottery fund, work started.
By the summer of 1984, we were able to run trains on a short up and down track at the club barbecue, and by June of the following year, the full circuit of 600’ had been completed. At the official opening in August, the opening ceremony was performed by L. G. Harris, of Harris Brushes. Guests included Walter Allen, one time driver of “Big Bertha”, the Midland designed locomotive built specially for the nearby Lickey incline, and to complete the picture, a 5” gauge model of “Big Bertha” itself, brought up for the occasion by builder Frank Stubbs.
In 1992, we held an open day to celebrate our 10th anniversary, with ten locomotives being brought in for the day by members of other clubs. At the same time, we opened the 16mm garden railway in what was to be its first guise, a simple loop with spurs off to a terminus station.
Having had one or two occasions when the service loco had failed, the society decided that some form of “instant” traction was required. A class 20 kit was purchased and finished in 1993. As an indication of our links with the museum, it was named “String of Horses”, this being the original name of one of the museum buildings when it had been a public house. Now that we run trains for weddings and children's activities we have added several more diesel locos, including a Deltic, so that the batteries have a chance to charge up before the next run.
Since 1995, members of the society have travelled abroad, sometimes as a club party, and at other times simply as a group of friends. We have taken locomotives to Nienoord (Netherlands), Sindelfingen (Germany), Brussels and Turnhout(Belgium). We’ve even had a trip to New Zealand!
The museum owns another field adjacent to our original passenger track, and over a few years, negotiations were held with the museum with a view to the society clearing the site and extending the track into the second field. By 2002 we had cleared the field and laid the track, which increased the length of a lap from 600’ to around 1260’.
The 16mm garden railway has been extended several times over the years. The original spur to the terminus station was extended with a viaduct and return loop to produce a dog bone shaped layout. This was further extended in 2007 to provided improved steaming facilities. In early 2010 all the track was renewed with more points added giving extra loops and more exciting running possibilities.
A number of club members have become interested in Gauge 1, and we opened our facilities in that scale in 2005. We regularly hold open days or Get-Togethers throughout the year.
Over the years, the club has hosted several rallies. These have included the “Curly Bowl” in 1996 and 2000, the Sweet Pea Rally in 1999, and the Southern Federation Spring and the 2½” Gauge Society Rallies in 2003. A very important and satisfying event was IMLEC in July 2011. April 2012 we hosted the Polly rally.