Hounslow West tube station’s ticket hall recently gained a large model railway, sitting inside the old passimeter box where station staff used to check tickets.

It was installed last year to mark the double whammy of the 160th anniversary of the London Underground and the 90th anniversary of the rebuilding of Hounslow West tube station.

Drawing from 1930s art deco posters, designer Dan Maier created a looped background for two trains to run around. The two trains, an early steam train and a 1938 tube stock were chosen to represent the transisition from rural landscape to urban centre.

Dan referenced several local buildings for the glowing background, including the Gillette Building, an art-deco house in Inwood Road, the former Edmunds and Littlewoods department store, an electricity substation, and, of course, the tube station itself.

Although the artist created the background, the local model railway group, TDMRC provided the railway components, which were sourced from the Model Centre.

Apart from the decoration and the model railway, I like how the background has been lit up as well. It gives it prominence in the ticket hall but also reminds me of how art-deco designs were associated with the advent of the electric light bulb. Art Deco quite literally glowed when it was young, much like this artwork.

The whole layout is housed inside the station’s Grade II listed Passimeter, and there’s a little button to press to make the trains run a few loops around the track. On my visit, lots of people tapped the button, almost as if it were a lucky rub for a good journey of their own.

It’s a charming bit of fun.

You can find the model railway inside Hounslow West tube station, and it is pretty much a permanent installation.


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  1. Steve Rees says:

    How adorable, and what a lovely idea. I know this fine building well, having once lived nearby. It looks beautifully restored. I’ll have to revisit.

    • Steve Rees says:

      … And of course there’s a quirky little treat around the back, a small slice of the original District railway station surviving behind, I believe once used for training purposes.

  2. Hazel Morgan says:

    Oh wow, I must see this! Thanks, Ian.

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