Astolat Model Railway Circle Remembered- Richard Halton (February 2007)

If it was forty years ago, I was about twenty years of age and still living with my parents in Normandy. I am not sure if I was technically a ‘founder member’. I think that decision had already been made but I was certainly a very early member. Initially we met at a house in Godalming and worked on a layout in the garage. I was not on the committee at any time so no written records (minutes or accounts) available.

When the new scout hut was built in Normandy the old one was used as a store and for other purposes. I was able to arrange use of one of the side rooms in the old building as a club room and use of the old hall on club nights. The club paid rent to the scouts which was probably not very much. I think the first true club layout was ‘Wanborough Docks’ which was a double continuous circuit layout in a dock and industrial environment. I recall drafting the track plan, but no doubt others helped to put it right afterwards. At that time, I was also involved with the Kent and East Sussex Railway (nothing changes; now its Medway Queen!) and we ran an exhibition in the Holy Trinity church halls in Guildford High Street. ‘Wanborough Docks’ was exhibited, and I remember an evening or two spent with friends at Phillip Tedder’s parents’ house in Bellfields constructing a street scene from Super Quick building kits so that it would be ready for the show.

Was Wanborough Docks 009 from the beginning or did it start 00 and get a 009 rebuild later? I do know that it was around for a long time in various forms.

There must have been a 00 layout as well. I recall scratch building a signal box based vaguely on Wanborough and a goods shed (or loco shed?) from a plan in Railway Modeller. This would have been early 1970’s before I became interested in N gauge and before I moved from Normandy.

I am not sure when I left the club. It was probably around 1974 when I got married and I think the club moved to premises in Guildford at about that time, I moved to Aldershot. Naturally I have always maintained links with the club and have exhibited in various ways at their shows. The Astolat Model Railway Circle, in turn, exhibited at various Holt Trinity exhibitions. These started in 1969 and ran through to 1982 or 83 and I have some details:

Astolat exhibits at Holy Trinity

1976 Layout with 2 freelance termini and fiddle yard

1977 Camelot, single track branch

1979 Wanborough Docksunknown year_Guildford and Dorking Light Railway (Phil Avery)

unknown year_Marklin Z gauge which had previously appeared on children’s ITV in 1975

unknown year Pennington (Colin Woolridge)

The club also exhibited (‘Wanborough Docks I think) at an event called Rail Fare in Aldershot Library in 1972, also a KESR event.