Market Deeping Railway Club vandalism: 'Time lost' for rebuild

Vandalised exhibition Image copyright Market Deeping Model Railway Club
Image caption The club had set up for its annual show when vandals struck

Model railway enthusiasts whose intricate displays were destroyed fear they will not live long enough to recreate their years of work.

Vandals smashed exhibits at the Market Deeping Railway Club show on Saturday.

Despite a wave of donations - including £10,000 from Sir Rod Stewart - chairman Peter Davies said the money could not replace "precious time lost".

Four youths arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage have been released on police bail.

At least £84,000 has been raised since the hall at Welland Academy, Stamford, was attacked.

One of the exhibits destroyed was a layout called Helmthwaite and Chapel Lane, which had taken 25 years to put together by the St Neots Model Railway Club.

Mr Davies, 70, said: "Some of us simply don't have that amount of time left in our lives.

'Ageing hobby'

"It takes years to put together the models. My own layouts, some I've been working on for 10 years.

"The owners of Helmthwaite are absolutely distraught by what's happened."

Professional railway modeller Tony Wright, who is an honorary member of Market Deeping, said he had never come across such "mindless vandalism".

"Railway modelling is an ageing hobby. It's a sort of a return to a passion of something you did as a child, when you're retired and the children have left home," he said.

"Most members are in their 70s and it doesn't necessarily matter what the value of the model is, it's the time taken to make it that's impossible to replace."

Mr Davies said the club had been overjoyed by the public response to the fundraising appeal, which initially had a target of £500, and that donations had come in from across the world.

He said: "It's not just money, people have donated their own models, their skills, their time, it's unbelievable."

The club plans to spend the funds on rebuilding displays with the rest being used to fund youth projects and help out other railway modelling clubs.

Image copyright Paul Bason
Image caption It had taken 25 years to build the Helmthwaite and Chapel Lane layout which was destroyed by vandals
Image copyright Paul Bason
Image caption The layout featured a fully operational wagon hoist
Image copyright Paul Bason
Image caption The display has been the focus of many railway shows

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