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Market Deeping Model Railway Club secure four-book deal after vandals wrecked exhibition





A devastating act of vandalism which wrecked many hours of painstaking work has helped a model railway club earn a four-book publishing deal.

How to Build a Model Railway is the first in the series by David Ashwood, a member of Market Deeping Model Railway Club, which hit the national headlines in 2019 when Rod Stewart donated £10,000 to help the club back on its feet after vandals struck before their annual show.

Following the episode, the club was approached by Pen and Sword Books to write a series of guides.

David held a book signing at Bourne Bookshop accompanied by a few layouts
David held a book signing at Bourne Bookshop accompanied by a few layouts

A computer support analyst, David volunteered to use his technical writing experience to write the book on behalf of the club, but has had plenty of help from his clubmates.

“When we first heard it was a case of ‘you’re doing what?’, but everyone has been very willing to help,” he said.

“The club members have a diverse set of experience from school principals to those who have worked on the railways.

Model of a Piccadilly line terminus station at Hounslow Heath in OO gauge
Model of a Piccadilly line terminus station at Hounslow Heath in OO gauge

“So the books have been been a shared experience.”

David has already written the second for release next summer, and is almost finished the third, due out next Christmas, while the final book is pencilled in for a 2024 release.

The rebuilding of the layouts wrecked by the vandals was photographed and documented for the opener which goes through the basics towards creating your own miniature marvel.

Northern grit, N gauge townscape for layout called 'The Priory'
Northern grit, N gauge townscape for layout called 'The Priory'

“It’s aimed at beginners or people who have got stuck,” said David, known to his clubmates as Dash.

“It’s approach has been described as a kindly uncle making suggestions rather than someone hovering over your shoulder dictating what you must do.

“We have tried to take something which is potentially dry and dusty and make it interesting.”

The club's layout based on North Cape in South Africa - the lighting can be adjusted from hot midday through to sunset
The club's layout based on North Cape in South Africa - the lighting can be adjusted from hot midday through to sunset

David joined the club around five years ago, having moved to Bourne from London where he ran a steam railway.

Writing and reconstructing layouts at his home helped him process the club’s nadir three years ago when schoolboys ransacked their exhibition at Stamford Welland Academy on the eve of the club’s annual show.

“It’s been very cathartic - you don’t realise how much something like this hits you,” he said.

The approaches to Euston station - a 110sq ft layout which will be the subject of book four
The approaches to Euston station - a 110sq ft layout which will be the subject of book four

“My wife and I were the first people in on the day so we spent most of it having to turn people away at the front door or explaining to exhibitors about the damage.

“We have made it into a positive thing.”

It has already been a best-selling book of the week at Bourne Bookshop where David held a signing session, accompanied by a layout.

“They are producing 5,000 hard copies of each book which is a vote of confidence, but also a bit scary,” he said.

All profits from the book will go back into the club which is a registered charity.



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