Triang’s model of the ‘Princess Royal’ – pride of my model railway collection.
However much you love a young son, the time will come when you may well wish that he had a place of his own to play…
For me, that wish was fulfilled – in spades – as I turned 11.
We’d always known that the roof space in number 3 was exceptionally generous. In many ways it was a whole new storey in waiting. A big dormer window let in plenty of light, and a conversion would simply involve laying a floor and plasterboarding over the existing beams. Which duly happened.
Access was fairly basic – a simple ladder up through a hatch into the new room. My parents had walled off a small area at the end to use as a storage cupboard, but I could hardly complain – I had a 16ft x 8ft space which was mine to do with as I wished.
So I did.
An early priority was my model railway, which now had all the space it needed to grow. My wonderful, practical mother crafted a new set of baseboards for it, and they were duly set up at one end of the attic. A seat by the window opened up to store all the paraphernalia associated with my railway-to-be – track, locomotives, rolling stock and accessories. At the other end was a big chest of drawers – its top drawer filled with my ever-expanding collection of Lego bricks.
Seventh heaven. I rarely wanted to leave, and often had to be coaxed out into the open air by parents still anxious about my fragile health. When I wasn’t making new and different layouts I was building huge models with Lego (including a bold attempt at Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbird 2, accompanied by my loud and doubtless hugely annoying rendition of the theme tune. Over and over and over again…)
One incident remains in memory. I’d just set up a layout and plugged in the controller, but for some reason none of the trains were moving. Vaguely I wondered if there was a loose connection at the mains. So I pushed the (rather loose) fabric-wrapped flex into the mains plug…
Only to generate a massive blue flash, a brief movement from one of my locos, and then – of course – nothing…!
Can’t remember whether – or not – I ever told my parents exactly what had happened…