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Anyone remember Alex Bowie's Modelmania on Norbury station approach in South London? It was a tiny lock up shop which was stuffed with all sorts of useful model railway bits and pieces - and two big Alsations. If more than 1 customer was in the shop, the dogs were booted out. Not unnaturally, they were usually very reluctant to go outside in bad weather and objected loudly, but always did as they were told.

 

Alex Bowie (for those who haven't heard of him) was a modeller himself and had been Editor of Model Railway Constructor and been involved with the Meccanno Magazine when it had some model railway content. He usually produced layout plans with sketches of how the result would look when complete, along with drawings of possible buildings and scenic treatments. He was a good writer, certainly as entertaining and as lively as Cyril Freezer.

 

A visit to Modelmania usually entailed allowing at least half an hour. Although you could be pretty sure you would come out with whatever you needed, Alex could talk  for England. He was a great eccentric and full of interesting stories. After so long (he died in the 1970s, I think), I can't remember any of them, although I do recall he told me he used to build baseboards out of balsa at the end of the War because no other timber was available.

 

David C

 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, David C said:

Anyone remember Alex Bowie's Modelmania on Norbury station approach in South London? It was a tiny lock up shop which was stuffed with all sorts of useful model railway bits and pieces - and two big Alsations. If more than 1 customer was in the shop, the dogs were booted out. Not unnaturally, they were usually very reluctant to go outside in bad weather and objected loudly, but always did as they were told.

 

Alex Bowie (for those who haven't heard of him) was a modeller himself and had been Editor of Model Railway Constructor and been involved with the Meccanno Magazine when it had some model railway content. He usually produced layout plans with sketches of how the result would look when complete, along with drawings of possible buildings and scenic treatments. He was a good writer, certainly as entertaining and as lively as Cyril Freezer.

 

A visit to Modelmania usually entailed allowing at least half an hour. Although you could be pretty sure you would come out with whatever you needed, Alex could talk  for England. He was a great eccentric and full of interesting stories. After so long (he died in the 1970s, I think), I can't remember any of them, although I do recall he told me he used to build baseboards out of balsa at the end of the War because no other timber was available.

 

David C

 

 

 

 

 

I do indeed. Despite having Hobbytime close to home in West Wickham, I would quite often go up to Modelmania on the 109 bus from school in Croydon. Alex was so kind with his time and giving advice. As you say, a visit to the shop was never quick. Despite the tiny size of the shop, he managed to stock bits and pieces that others did not have.

We were spoilt for choice back then in South London. Bec Models in Tooting, Norwood Jct Models (not sure if I have the name right), Hobbytime, Modelmania, and a little shop opposite the bus station at West Croydon which I could drop into on my way back from school.

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Funnily enough, when I moved to Northampton for my job in 1985,Bec models had a shop in St.Leonards Rd.Didn't last very long unfortunately. 

 

        Ray. 

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You’ve still got a well-above-average model shop in Northampton though.

 

Apart from being neat, tidy, clean, brightly-lit, full of fresh air, and with a friendly staff, it’s almost like a proper model shop from way back.

 

David C - I too remember Alex Bowie and his shop. I didn’t go there until at least 1976, when I started working nearby, and  only went a few times because he never had any 009/H0e, which was what I was into at the time, whereas Platform 5 at Wimbledon often had secondhand bits. I may be doing him an injustice, but I seem to remember Mr B continually filling a large ash-tray.He used to sit behind a low counter (in an armchair possibly?) sort of holding court.

 

That area was spoiled with model shops, because as well as those two there were Beatties at Croydon, and a good small shop at West Croydon bus terminal, and a sort train ride would get you to Masters at Epsom, or ABC at London Bridge. Norwood Junction models too, although I don’t remember going there.

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer

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My earliest model shop memories are of The Model Shop in Exeter, when it was in the old City Arcade (just recently demolished for student flats!) and run by Pete Lindsay.

 

There was always boxes of stuff to rummage through - and I got lots of old copies of Railway Modeller for pennies (which is all I could afford at the time). And despite having the demeanour of a grumpy old git, he was often really helpful too. He would also be able to give suggestions to this young enthusiast when I was building my first layout out of my train set. 

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7 hours ago, sagaguy said:

Another shop in N.London was Howell Dimmock in Lordship Lane,Tottenham. It was a partnership between Dudley Dimmock of Graham Farish  & Chris Crawley. I don't think it lasted for too Long. Chris then opened a small shop on the corner of Lordship Lane & Bruce Grove, about 200 yards from the original shop. 

 

          Ray. 

 

 

The latter shop rings a bell - wasn't it called the Gas Cupboard or similar??

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No,I believe that was a model shop in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.The Tottenham shop was Chris Crawley models, Chris eventually sold the business to a lady who dealt in collectibles,I used to buy items from the shop & Toyfairs around Northampton after I moved.Last I heard about Chris,he was trading from a heritage railway in E.Anglia but that was a lot of years ago.

 

      Ray. 

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On 17/03/2019 at 12:54, caradoc said:

Growing up in Oxford in the 1970s we had, as well as the 'proper' model shops, Howes in Broad St and the Railway Book Shop at the Green Road roundabout, other retailers who sold Hornby, such as Boswells in the city centre (still there although sadly no longer stocking model railways) and Risings in Summertown.  One Xmas I asked, as part of my presents, for a Hornby isolating track, and was given a whole box of them which Risings had sold us for the price of one ! My Mum made me take it back.........

There was also another small model shop opened at 94 St.Clements around 1967 by Derek Vaughan and his father. It stocked a small amount of Hornby and Peco RTR stock as well as S/H and craft materials. It later went on to sell model aircraft and kits which it still did right up until 2017 when the then proprietor from 1976 retired.

 

A.S.Rising & Sons had another shop in Bicester Road, Kidlington when I moved there with my parents in 1955. I think it lasted until about 1967 and is now an undertaker. There was also Wards department store in Park End Street which sold Triang and Hornby-Dublo besides prams, cycles and dolls. I think it closed down in the early 1970's. Wyeths in Iffley Road was a pram and cycle shop near Donnington Bridge which I bought a few Triang wagons from in the late sixties.  Another small model railway outlet was A.E.Webley in Woodstock which sold a small amount of Triang, Spot-on, Corgi and Dinky Toy products. It was there in the early 1960's closing  down by 1970.

Howes Cycles in Broad Street was my favourite though and my father would often call in there as he worked nearby in Blackwells bookshop. I actually worked part-time in Howes on occasional Saturdays in the 1980/90's and also in both their later premises in Kidlington. I also spent twenty years assisting the proprietor, who was a personal friend, at the many exhibitions that Howes attended with their modern image parts and detailing kits, (A1} around the southern part of the country.

Alas the newer models required less detailing so Howes were invited by Heljan to become their UK agent, and this has just been relinquished after some twenty or so years. Howes still exists but sadly not a big stockist concentrating mainly on Railmatch Paints, Howes Sound, Peco and secondhand, as well as RC.

Let's hope it can continue but the interest and location of the shop sadly reflects the way the model railway hobby has changed over the last decade. Oxford virtually has nothing for the railway modeller any more!   I purchase most of my requirements at shows now but still assist with a few Heljan projects when time permits between restoring full size buses.

 

Bob Chalmers, formerly of Howes, also opened a shop in Abingdon for a few years in the mid 1990's but this ceased to exist very quickly.

Edited by BrushVeteran
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Great memories, BrushVeteran, thanks for posting. I do remember the shop in Iffley Road, it was near my Grandma's retirement flat and I recall going there once looking for Triang OLE; None in stock unfortunately ! Sadly, Boswells is now closing down too. 

 

Howes was the best shop of course (at least until it moved progressively further away from the city centre) and I remember going there one day after primary school with a friend (so around 1970/71). I bought a few things and then realised I had no money left for the bus fare home, so had to ask them to take something back.........

 

I also bought a few things from the St Clements shop, many many years ago, handily it was on the way between home and secondary school. As you say it is now closed and passing on the bus today, the shop is still empty.

 

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On 07/02/2020 at 14:53, wasabi said:

I moved to Leytonstone in East London in 1987 and used to regularly go into The Engine Shed.  Initially I was using 009 but since moved to N but neither were well supported by the shop.  I think it was run by a couple when I first visited but latterly by a chap called Dave (Howells?) who was very much into P4 and was building a layout in the backroom, assisted by the Roding Valley MRG.  I seem to remember that they met on a Tuesday at 1800 but that was when I finished work in Central London and I usually had other commitments on Tuesday, so I never went.  There is a dearth of model shops in London now, but high rents and rates must be factors as well as travel time.  We have an Art Shop near which I buy most paints from, but otherwise it usually has to be mail order.

 

(IPW)

 

 

Unless something has changed the only model shop left in the entire of London is the Ian Allan shop in Waterloo. There are a few bits at the London transport museum shop but I think that’s it. 

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In Colchester we had Colchester Model Centre, Mankims and Anglia Scale Models, all now history unfortunately. 

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There was a shop called Hobbyline which opened it Colchester. I heard the owner 'did a runner' owing the manufacturers a tidy sum. 

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Anyone remember a shop that was first in redcar and then Middlesbrough it was essentially a sunbed shop but the owner Alan a top bloke was a railway enthusiast he was cheaper than the cheapest price you could find in railway modeller but unfortunately I think had a burglary and never recovered from it and closed 

Would have been about 85 to 90

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Kingcraft Models of Sandwich. Was owned by Alan Weston. Had all the Triang come Hornby spares at reasonable prices.

 

I still have Triang armatures I bought from there in the 80's.

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As a boy I remember a few long gone shops in the stoke area.

 

Pleasure Treasures in burslem. Only recall going there a few times with my dad but I think they had huge glass display cases

Brookfields in longton. They had trains and all sorts

A shop on Uttoxeter road / high street that I cant remember the name of. Went in there with dad a few times

City Centre models in hanley had a couple of shops. First one in lewis arcade then they moved onto the main street. Spent a fortune in there. The first shop I really spent my own earned cash in. Still remember some of my best purchases - Hornby 2-6-4 tank in lms red, Bachmann ivatt 2-6-2T and the pride of my collection was the premier boxed set with a merchant navy, light up Pullmans and loads of track. I thought I read somewhere the chap who owned this shop is the same chap who owned pleasure treasures in burslem.

Then there was collectors corner under the railway bridge in longton. Remember paying £100+ for a Silver Link and a coronation with matching coaches. They were hard to find then and had been out of production for some time

 

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The day of the small model shop has come to the end, if you can afford the massive initial outlay, the only way to succeed is the 'internet-superstore'. RIP the friendly little shop where you could go for a chat, and if lucky - get a cup of coffee.:sungum:

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Amazingly enough, not quite true.

 

A few do still exist.

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6 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Amazingly enough, not quite true.

 

A few do still exist.

Yes indeed. My local is one of them and we must make the effort to venture out to them whilst we still have them.

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Evenin' all

 

I remember Alex Bowie's Modelmaina well. I used to catch a stopping train home on friday, so I could visit the shop. Alex could chat for England, but he was an interesting guy.

Hobbytime in West Wickham was another interesting shop. The owner smoked a pipe, but was full of free advice. It wasn't an easy journey from where I lived, so I didn't visit very often.

Alton Models is a shop in the old school. It is a train and a bus from where I live, but there are a couple of  good pubs in Alton, so I enjoy making a day of it.

 

Thane of Fife

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20 hours ago, meatloaf said:

As a boy I remember a few long gone shops in the stoke area.

 

Pleasure Treasures in burslem. Only recall going there a few times with my dad but I think they had huge glass display cases

Brookfields in longton. They had trains and all sorts

A shop on Uttoxeter road / high street that I cant remember the name of. Went in there with dad a few times

City Centre models in hanley had a couple of shops. First one in lewis arcade then they moved onto the main street. Spent a fortune in there. The first shop I really spent my own earned cash in. Still remember some of my best purchases - Hornby 2-6-4 tank in lms red, Bachmann ivatt 2-6-2T and the pride of my collection was the premier boxed set with a merchant navy, light up Pullmans and loads of track. I thought I read somewhere the chap who owned this shop is the same chap who owned pleasure treasures in burslem.

Then there was collectors corner under the railway bridge in longton. Remember paying £100+ for a Silver Link and a coronation with matching coaches. They were hard to find then and had been out of production for some time

 

 

City Centre Models in the indoor shopping mall near the potteries shopping centre. Sounds like a shared memory of happy days spending our money in there. Remember a grey haired guy with glasses and a smock was behind the counter. I can still visualise it like it was yesterday. Big front window then a display case within the entrance vestibule selling HO cars and other detailing stuff. It was a walk around in a circuit affair with a main display case in the centre and glass cases all round the side. The counter was to the middle of the far part of the shop. Pleasure Treasures was indeed the same owners and it was City Centre who directed me there one time. Much more old fashioned inside and closed sooner than CCM by a good few years.

A45EF3A9-61D2-4DB0-A92E-8A2520FDE5FA.jpeg

Edited by ianmacc
Found a picture just after it closed!
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I remember the Beatties at the Merry Hell shopping centre in Brierly Hill, West Midlands... I don't think I ever bought anything from there, but I used to go in on a matter of principal after being dragged all round clothes shops by my younger sister.  There was another model shop in Brierly Hill itself which I'd occasionally call into for bits and pieces when I was at college in the early 2000's, my favourite being a blood n' custard Minitrix Mk.1 for a tenner from the seconds cabinet.  No idea if the shop is still there, but the town looked a bit dead last time I went through so I can't imagine it's still going.

 

My favourite shop growing up in the West Midlands though was Ace Models of the Fountain Arcade, Dudley.  A big display window downstairs (which in hindsight must have been either another part of the same shop once, or a whole separate premise they'd bought later), and climbing the stairs up to what seemed to be a massive room.  There was a (seemingly never working) big 00 layout behind glass in one corner, two sides of the space given over to model kits, and the counter in the centre of the shop had more exotic things like N gauge.  Over the years I spent a fortune in pocket money and birthday money in there, everything from Hornby 00 gauge and Bachmann H0, to my first foray into N.  I remember the excitement of looking down into the glass-topped cabinet in the counter, trying to work out what loco to buy!  Grafar 94XX, three wagons and a brake van.  Still got them too :)

 

I was quite sad when the shop closed (like seemingly everything else in Dudley); its last couple of years it seemed to be struggling along, one of the regular staff (the owner I think) had retired.  Hard to believe now that not only did Ace Models have a second outlet in Wolverhampton, but the town supported a smaller, second model shop in the 90's about two streets over, and the same arcade as Ace Models had a toy shop which also stocked trains and Scalextric.  Last time I was home in the town the toy shop was just about still going, having closed and reopened, and they had a couple of bits of Hornby.

 

I still slightly regret never buying the model kit of a Dalek which sat on a top shelf in the back corner at Ace Models... there were always more tempting trains to buy, and the kits go for a fortune now on eBay.

 

At least A Oakes is still going, over in nearby Langley Green; a mad mish-mash of model trains and school uniforms!  We went in to get some uniform bits for our kids last year, it was great to see that the shop hadn't changed since I used to go in there aged three!  A proper old-fashioned shop.

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Not a shop I visited but one I bought a number of things from was Muirhead Models(?) in Scotland. They seemed incredibly cheap when searching the RM. I got my Mum to write a cheque, in exchange for a pile of coins, which would be posted off and many weeks later something like an Airfix 4F would arrive in the post - was it £7.99?

 

Searching the adverts for bargains when I only had 50p pocket money a week meant buying the same item from the local Beatties was out of the question. 

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1 hour ago, Ben B said:

I remember the Beatties at the Merry Hell shopping centre in Brierly Hill, West Midlands... I don't think I ever bought anything from there, but I used to go in on a matter of principal after being dragged all round clothes shops by my younger sister.  There was another model shop in Brierly Hill itself which I'd occasionally call into for bits and pieces when I was at college in the early 2000's, my favourite being a blood n' custard Minitrix Mk.1 for a tenner from the seconds cabinet.  No idea if the shop is still there, but the town looked a bit dead last time I went through so I can't imagine it's still going.

 

Footplate Models, relocated to their 2nd shop near Kidderminster Station a good few years ago now.

 

There's a general 2nd hand toy shop that's open further down in Brierley Hill by the High St (having relocated from the Market) which usually has a few Model Railway items in.

 

Zodiac toys in Stourbridge was a much-missed outlet from back then. Plenty of obscenely cheap Airfix (31's for £8, Mk2 air-con coaches for £1.50, wagons for 80p) that regularly soaked up my paper-round money!

 

 

13 minutes ago, number6 said:

Not a shop I visited but one I bought a number of things from was Muirhead Models(?) in Scotland. They seemed incredibly cheap when searching the RM. I got my Mum to write a cheque, in exchange for a pile of coins, which would be posted off and many weeks later something like an Airfix 4F would arrive in the post - was it £7.99?

 

Searching the adverts for bargains when I only had 50p pocket money a week meant buying the same item from the local Beatties was out of the question. 

 

You needed a Beatties Clubcard*, Cardholders could quote any advertised price in the RM/MRC etc & they would price match it there & then!

 

Dunno how you were supposed to join up officially, I got mine free, along with their own catalogue, when buying a new Hornby 25 for £7.50 in a Christmas sale about 40 years ago!

 

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