Earlier this month a large model steam train appeared in Amersham, at the end of the Metropolitan line, and it’s quite simply marvellous.
Sitting in the centre of town, this is a good scale model of the Metropolitan No.1 train — which in real life is the steam locomotive that hauled the last passenger steam service on the London Underground in 1961, and is preserved at the nearby Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
Behind the locomotive, two carriages offering first and third class accommodation, and space for the train guard.
The whole train sits on a miniature railway with miniature gravel, and even a level crossing gate at the end. Stand back a bit and you could easily think this is a recently restored bit of old railway heritage on a disused line, such is the quality of the railway they’ve built.
And then you notice it’s half the correct size, and smile. This is a scale model that makes you smile, a lot.
An informative board tells the story of the Metropolitan No 1 steam locomotive from its origins on the London Underground to preserved heritage today, and that the replica model was made by the local Scouts group.
Do look carefully at the bogies for a lovely detail, the traditional carriage works sign — 1st Chesham Bois Scouts Locomotive and Carriage Works established 2020 — with the scout’s fleur-de-lis decorations.
There are warnings not to climb on the train with CCTV watching, and while that’s necessary to protect the model, it can also be seen as a way of educating children that it’s not OK to climb over the railing and play on the railways.
Maybe being surrounded by autumn leaves gives it a bit more atmosphere, but I think it’s wonderful.