About Us: A History in Three Chapters

 

“Sometime in the years of 1937 or 1938, a group of young men formed a club to enjoy the hobby of model railroading.”
--Bill Young, March 1971

 
 
 
Welcome to the 80+ year history of one of the first model railroad clubs in Canada!
 

Chapter 1

68½ Dundas Street

1938-1970

Chapter 2

69 Holborn Avenue

1970-2018

Chapter 3

4474-127 Blakie Road

2019-Today

 

Bill Young, circa 1950
Bill Young, Dundas St., circa 1950


Our mission is to develop and operate an O-scale model railroad layout to prototypical standards. LMRG is a social club that fosters an atmosphere of friendship, camaraderie, common purpose, and fun.

  •     We meet every Tuesday and Thursday year-round from 7 to 9:30pm.
  •     Open Houses are every first Tuesday of the month.
  •     Layout, track and switches are owned by group.
  •     Locomotives and rolling stock usually are owned by individual members.
  •     Regular and supporting memberships available.
  •     No previous modeling or railroading experience required.
  •     Stop in for a few sessions and join once you’ve gotten to know us.
  •     Donations gratefully accepted.
 
 
Chapter One: Dundas Street

“We became notably successful scroungers … and we used a lot of the things we scrounged.”
--Bill Young, March 1971

 

 

Dundas Track Plan

Partial Plan for the Dundas St Layout, 1938-1970

  • In 1938, founding members George Barrett, Bill Shaw, George Jervis, and Lloyd Always, with new member Bill Young, moved the fledgling group into the Kingsmills premises on Dundas Street, three stories up, with no heat, air conditioning, water, or washrooms.
  • An ad in the London Free Press seeking new members was their first foray into publicity.
  • The 28’ x 55’ location was rent-free, and the club’s members were keen to make it habitable. They opted to model trains in O-scale, or 1:48 or ¼” to the foot, where a six-foot person is 1½” tall.
  • After considerable preparation, an around-the-walls layout was developed from sketches long lost to time.
  • The hobby was in its infancy, so a look at the real world, plus a healthy dollop of imagination, were all the club had to go on.
  • This was well before hobby magazines, specialist shops and web sites, or instructional videos on YouTube!
  • The deprivations of the Second World War engendered an entrepreneurial spirit that persists to this day. We love trying to figure out how to get things to work for our purposes and are always on the lookout for unexpected items that might be used.
  • The Dundas St layout grew over the years, expanding to a second room, and barely surviving a fire on the floor above.
  • By 1969, the layout had matured to a point where maintenance and reworking existing areas were the main focus.
  • In 1970, the expropriation of the building to make way for the new Provincial Courthouse forced the group to find a new home.
  • The last train run on the Dundas St layout was January 24, 1970.


Dundas Layout

A Section of the Dundas St Layout, date unknown



Club at Dundas

The Club in 1940, Indicated by Small Arrow

 

Dundas Before the Move

Dundas St Just Before the Move and Demolition in 1970

 

Dundas Demolished
Dundas St During Demolition in 1970

 




 

 

Chapter Two: Holborn Avenue

Holborn Clubhouse

The Holborn Ave Clubhouse – To Scale

 

  • We began moving to Holborn Ave on May 18, 1970.
  • Gear was lowered out the third-floor windows at Dundas St, and moved over the following five months. The move was completed on October 25, 1970.
  • Owning our building meant we had to become official. With a constitution, by-laws, officers and dues, we formally became the London Model Railroad Group Inc. in the early 1980s.
  • After considerable preparation of the main train room, the first spike on the new layout was driven on December 15, 1970.
  • The new layout loosely followed the design of the old one, but with the benefit of more space to alleviate cramped areas, and ample room for proper scenery. The roughly 4,000 sq. ft. layout was built to prototypical standards, with hand-built switches, hand-spiked ties, and considerable attention to detail.
  • The layout represented the Lake Erie & International, a fictional railroad running along the northern shore of Lake Erie from New York State to Michigan. 
  • Unfortunately, over the years, upkeep on the Holborn Ave building and layout became onerous and forced us to relocate.
  • Dismantling the Holborn Ave layout took about three months from August to October 2018. Little was salvageable from the layout, though a few key items will be displayed or incorporated into the new one.
  • While it’s always sad to tear down many years’ worth of work, it is an opportunity to build something new and exciting.
  • We departed Holborn Ave on October 31, 2018, having moved our remaining equipment into storage while we searched for a new base of operations.
  • The last train run on the Holborn Ave layout was in early August, 2018.



Holborn Layout Plan

Holborn Ave. Layout Plan, May 2002
 

The Holborn Ave LE&I by the Numbers
  • 5,000 feet of 2-rail, scale track
  • 1,200 foot main line with five loops; travel time was 12 minutes at a scale speed of 50 mph
  • 45 main line track blocks; many more in yards
  • Handmade wooden ties, with four spikes in each tie
  • Minimum curve radius 5 feet
  • Maximum grade 3%
  • Three circus trains totaling more than 55 cars
  • 21 stations and yards including passenger, freight and industrial areas
  • Hidden storage yard for up to 10 trains
  • Three hand-built lift bridges; 2 from the 1940s, 1 from the 1980s
  • Innumerable scratch-built buildings

LE&I 4041

LE&I 4041 Rounds the Bend



Elevated Control Room

The Elevated Control Room



Auto Repair

Auto Repairs Underway



Bridges

A View Through the Bridges 
 

Circus

The Circus Comes to Town
 

Industry

A Gritty Industrial Area
 

Winter Scene

A Winter Scene

 


 

 


 
Chapter Three: Blakie Rd
 
  • The LMRG excitement begins anew at Blakie Rd, which we occupied on April 1, 2019.
  • The new LE&I depicts the local region as it might have been in 1970s. Features include highlights of St Marys, London and Port Stanley.
  • We're also incorporating an interactive Timesaver Puzzle into the layout
  • While the new location is smaller than Holborn Ave, it allows us to create a highly detailed railroad in every aspect, including trains, scenery, and buildings.
  • We’re applying the latest digital technology throughout for train and track control, with Arduino-powered animations and automation, sound and interactivity.
  • For the latest track plan and other details, see our Layout page; for images, check out our Photos.

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