Helping preserve Deeping St James’s railway heritage

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You’d be surprised what goes into Neil Mason’s model railways he makes from scratch.

There are one or two items that come off the shelf, but otherwise Neil uses things generally found around the house – including his wife Lacey’s make-up, which once got used for weathering a track.

Neil Mason and a bespoke model railway he is building for a customer. Photo: SG140716-110TW

Neil Mason and a bespoke model railway he is building for a customer. Photo: SG140716-110TW

After a few years of creating models as a sideline, Neil and Lacey have finally taken the plunge and opened their own shop, The Little Layout Company, in Deeping St James.

There they can channel their passion for model railways and share it with other enthusiasts.

They are also putting that passion behind a campaign by St James Deeping Signal Box Group, which is trying to raise the funds to re-build the village signal box.

An exclusive model of the signal box is to be produced in a limited edition especially for the shop and a portion of the proceeds from their sale will go towards the fund.

Neil says the model will sell for around £35 ready built, and £18.99 in kit form.

He says: “I feel passionately about the railway network, especially the smaller railways we have here that come through Deeping St James. To keep a bit of that heritage there is a good idea.”

Having been brought up surrounded by model railways – his father worked on the railways and made models – model making was always a hobby.

Around eight years ago, Neil started building layouts for customers in his spare hours after work. When he was made redundant from Perkins Engines it seemed the ideal opportunity to turn it into a full-time business.

Neil says the shop, in Church Street, “specialises in everything really”, and as the premises also contains a workshop Neil can also do every aspect of layout building. He used to do all this himself, but because of time restraints he now gives some of the work to people dedicated to this type of work.

The models Neil builds come out of his head, unless a customer wants a particular station modelled, so every one is a one-off.

Lacey, who works as an early help coordinator, is the business head behind the business, and her father Alan Patrick also helps out.