ORGANISERS today revealed plans to turn a Hartlepool model railway exhibition into an international attraction.
Thousands of model railway enthusiasts will descend on Wynyard Park this Saturday and Sunday for the Hartlepool Model Rail Group Exhibition from 9.30am each day in the Wynyard Rooms.
Today, organiser Paul Appleton told of the plans to eventually turn the exhibition into one of the biggest in Europe in memory of the Hartlepool man who originally set it up.
Paul said: “The exhibition was originally started by Malcolm Priestman as a way of raising money for local charities.
“We want to keep on supporting the event Malcolm started and do it in his memory.
“We are trying to ramp it up and elevate it to a scale where it will become an international event.
“Last year, we had 2,000 paying visitors. We are aiming for 2,500 to 3,000 this year and a typically large event will attract 4,000 to 5,000 people.
“We are gaining momentum, but if we can eventually get the bigger numbers in, we could have an international event for the Hartlepool area.”
This year’s exhibition is expected to attract visitors from all over the UK to enjoy a display of 23 working model railway layouts as well as exhibition stands, specialist traders and demonstrations.
All money raised will be split between two charities - The Denise Taylor Cancer Trust and the Great North Air Ambulance.
Paul added: “The show is run in collaboration with Hartlepool Model Rail Group and the national publication Hornby Magazine, as well as enjoying sponsorship and support from the model manufacturer Hornby Hobbies and North-East train operator, Grand Central.
“The model railways on show vary from the small ‘N’ gauge at a scale of just 2mm to the foot, through to the much larger ‘G’ gauge which has a scale of 45mm to the foot.”
This year there is an added challenge where a team from Hornby Magazine will be attempting to build a layout in a weekend.
And in a coup for Hartlepool, the Gamston Bank East Coast Mainline layout will be on show.
Paul said: “It is a celebrity layout and we have managed to get it for Hartlepool.”
Other highlights will include the awarding of trophies including the Malcolm Priestman Memorial Trophy which goes to the layout judged as the best by the public.