Model sparks memories of bygone rail era

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A model railway had residents at a Quadring care home sharing memories of childhood train trips to the sea and tales of washing spoiled by passing trains.

The visit to Stonehaven Residential Home was the idea of Spalding Model Railway Club member Graham Moorfoot, whose exhibition model of Billingborough station in the late 1950s is small enough to take into a care home setting.

Stonehaven manager Michael Penfold said: “To be honest, when the visit was first suggested I was not sure how the mainly elderly ladies resident at Stonehaven would react.

“I thought they would probably not be interested in model trains. I couldn’t have been more wrong, the afternoon was a tremendous success.”

Graham Moorfoot, who used to train spot at Billingborough as a school boy, is an accomplished model maker and has invested the model with a wealth of detail depicting life in the village 60 years ago, detail which was not lost on the residents of Stonehaven.

“It was marvellous really,” said Graham, “the number of conversations which sprang up between the residents who came in and out of the room during the afternoon.

“One old gentleman had actually worked on the railways and he had some wonderful stories to tell.”

Mr Penfold, who is keen to arrange a similar visit next year, said: “Many residents get into a daily routine, preferring to sit in the same chair in the same lounge, but this really got people together and sparked conversations between people who had not really got to know one another very well.

“One chap who has lived here for about six months and, due to his condition, has said very little in that time, suddenly started talking about his memories of steam train travel. It was delightful to hear him open up like that.”

Graham even let residents try their hand at controlling the trains.

One lady had such fun as a “train driver” she wrote to her son about the experience which prompted him to check with the carers that mum had not been dreaming.

Michael said: “As a piece of reminiscence therapy this was remarkable and we are grateful to Graham and his beautiful railway.

“I would certainly recommend other care homes to contact their local model railway clubs to see if anything similar could be arranged.”