The Thameside Sub-Division, or The Thamesiders Model Railroad Group, was formed in 2000 and was originally centred around members' homes and local model railway club premises in Essex and Suffolk. It eventually obtained a regular booking in a church hall in Hatfield Peverel, near Chelmsford, Essex where it could set up and work on its HO modular layout "Essex Belt Lines". Until 2011, the modules were stored at members' homes and brought to Hatfield Peverel by another member in his company tail lift truck. As his retirement was looming that year and one member who stored all the Group-owned modules was moving away, alternative premises were sought and obtained on a farm near Colchester, Essex. So from 2011, the Group has been meeting at Frating, Essex in a purpose-built hall. At the time of the move an N scale group was also formed.
Over the period of our existence, the Group has exhibited "Essex Belt Lines" at local shows, one Region Convention, one Region Meet, the NEC (2010) and the Alexandra Palace (2013 and 2017). Over time it has grown in size from its original 30 feet by 10 feet to 38 feet by 19 feet plus branclines extending out a further 30 feet. It will be on display at the Alexandra Palace show again 25/26 March 2017 with additional FreeMo modules added as a branch line. The N scale layout has not yet been exhibited as it is still being developed.
The Group meets every month, usually the third Saturday unless it clashes with other more established events such as local and national exhibitions, Region Meets and Convention. December is the exception when a social event is organised at another venue and involves a informal luncheon to celebrate Christmas. Anyone interesting in attending should contact the Group for confirmation of dates and the location of the venue. Roundhouse and BRe-news usually carry up to date information.
The Group continues to work on "Essex Belt Lines", refurbishing and enhancing existing boards and building new ones. The Group owns the staging yard plus the approaching corners, together with various other modular groups of boards. Members also own a large proportion of the available modules to complete the set up. All are built to a common specification. In this way any modules can be connected to all others in any permutation, subject to space constraints.
Over the past two years an integrated colour light signalling and train detection system has been developed and installed. Most meets are running sessions for the layout when members can bring along their trains to run them in a continuous format. On occasions the meet will operate under a switch list, car cards and waybills system with emphasis on switching, in a more prototypical manner.
The N scale layout is still under development and is yet to be exhibited.
New members are always welcome; NMRA members can visit any time.
Contact Contact Geoff Smith-Gillard on 01255 677482 for details of monthly meets, working on and running the group’s HO and N scale modular layouts, or see Roundhouse and BRe-news for dates and times.
Thamesiders Newsletters can be downloaded by clicking on this link.