Warley Model Railway Club

Railway modelling in most scales and gauges

Warley Model Railway Club, Unit 1F Pearsall Drive, Oldbury, West Midlands, B69 2RA

Registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Charity No: 1153792

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A Brief History

Warley Model Railway Club was formed by chance when one of the founder members mentioned to a work-mate that he was visiting a local model railway shop during his lunch hour. That was Mr W D. ‘Dennis’ King and A. Oakes respectively. From the ensuing discussions it was apparent that he was not alone in his interest in model railways and was joined by four friends (Messrs R. Gumery, R. McMurray, M. Mewis and Ray Overfield) who were to become the founder members of The Warley Model Railway Circle. They met together at a local public house.

On March 1 1967, the first Annual General Meeting was held. One of the five founders, Bob Gumery, was elected as Chairman. The club also formed a junior section the same month.

The first exhibition of club member’s handiwork was at the Bridgnorth Model Railway Club Exhibition in May 1967. Soon after a decision was taken to hold the club's first exhibition, this took place at a local school on October 21 & 22 1967. There were three working layouts presented by Warley, Stourbridge and Lucas clubs.

In April 1968, the club moved into premises at The Harry Mitchell Centre, Smethwick, although formal meetings continued at the Wonder Inn for some time (perhaps the beer settled any arguments'.) The club at first occupied half of a Nissen Hut type building that was shared with the local model slot-car racing club, each club having a separate half of the building. This remained the club home until three wooden huts on the same site became available. The move allowed the club to expand its modelling activities.

In 1971 the Circle became Warley Model Railway Club and in the same year moved its exhibition site from the school to The Harry Mitchell Centre. The exhibition continued to go from strength to strength under the name of `Midland Model Rail Fair', although it was generally referred to as `The Warley Show'. The Club reflected the popular title in 1982, by a change of name to `Warley Model Railway Exhibition'.

In accordance with its aims of encouraging and supporting railway modelling, the Club held a symposium in 1988. This was a deliberately low budget, low-key `fun' event with a number of experts being invited to attend and demonstrate their skills. The event proved successful and similar events are still organised under the banner of "open day".

The Harry Mitchell Recreation Centre grew in size over the years. The Club was not slow in realising the potential for the expansion of its exhibition and took over additional space as it became available.

By 1991, all available space within the Harry Mitchell Centre was being utilised and there was no further room for expansion. In April 1992, Paul Jones, who had held the post of Exhibition Manager for a number of years, presented a proposal, which was accepted by the Club to pursue the viability of hiring a hall at the National Exhibition Centre for the annual exhibition. For legal reasons the Club formed a company to organise the event, Warley MRC Exhibitions Limited.  The company is wholly owned and directed by the Club, but mandated to organise and run the annual exhibition on its behalf.n behalf of the club.

About this time the club also moved clubrooms, by renting an old post office sorting office in Albert Street, Oldbury, where there was more space available for modelling activities and proper storage of unused layouts and all the paraphernalia of the exhibition in one building.

In October 1993, Warley Model Railway Exhibition, now titled Warley National Model Railway Exhibition to reflect its new site and target audience, opened in Hall 11 at the National Exhibition Centre. Sadly, Bob Gumery was not to witness this major move, having died earlier in the year after seeing the Club through from its inception to the final planning of the move to the NEC. The show was successful enough to encourage the club to make the NEC its permanent exhibition site and within two years, expand into a larger hall. There have been changes of hall from year to year, and the exhibition has continued to grow. 2007 was the 40th Anniversary exhibition and the largest the club had ever held up until that date.

On 11th June 2005 Warley MRC moved to its current home. The club purchased a factory unit about two miles from its then home in Oldbury. The premises has sufficient space for a large meeting room, library, offices and an area where at least one layout of each of the groups can be erected at the same time.

September 2013 saw a major change when Warley MRC became Warley MRC CIO.  Follow this link for more detail on the why and how this happened.

Modelling space is always problematic, no less so for a club than an individual. To make available additional space in the club rooms it was decided to extend the first floor mezzanine and that work was completed in July 2014. The additional space allowed the fledgling HO group, modelling USA prototypes, to establish itself with a good size layout and to allow layouts that had been stored for some time to be worked upon.

In 2014 the club formalised a system to make available for loan to similar societies some of the equipment we have for exhibition purposes and to permit limited use of the club rooms for meetings..

50 Glorious Years

2016 was the 50th anniversary of the founding of Warley Model Railway Club, it was celebrated by chartering a dining train on the Severn Valley Railway. Members that year were also given a small memento in the form of a pin badge.  Two of the original ten founding members of the club were contacted and in March they visited the club and were  presented with a fiftieth anniversary badge.

The anniversaries continue in 2017 with the club looking forward to the 50th exhibition organised by the club and the 25th at the National Exhibition Centre.

It would be easy to assume that the Warley Model Railway Exhibition is the whole of Warley Model Railway Club endeavours, this is not the case. There are sufficient members with their own layouts to need to maintain a database of those willing to represent the Club at exhibitions.  Members are also represented on the committees of other railway organisations and involved in helping with the groups, schools and youth organisations by attending events with layouts or models. These events are seen not only as a means of advertising the Club but also to draw the attention of people, especially young.

One of the clubs leading projects that appears unrelated to model making was Warley MRC Charity Link. It was decided in that first year at the NEC we would raise money for the Acorns children's hospice. Thanks to the support of our visitors, this was a great success and since then our Exhibition has featured a charitable element.

After that first exhibition we looked for a charitable activity that would support children on a National basis, in keeping with our ethos and show name "The Warley National Model Railway Exhibition". We settled upon supplying nebulisers for those with breathing difficulties to deserving causes nationwide, especially where this helped children. The project provided nebulisers for clinics, doctor’s surgeries, hospices etc., to assist those youngsters and adults as well, who have breathing difficulties. Over 500 of these units were provided throughout the U.K. with a unit being provided to every children’s hospice in the U.K. By 2016 the demand for nebulisers had dropped and by that time the club had itself become a charitable organisation subject to different rules.  The project was wound up and the balance of money was donated to The Railway Children, a charity with similar objectives to support children.

This project was driven throughout by one member, John Barron.