The History of The Newcastle Model Railway Club.
As discussed by Bill Hoye and Steve McGee.
When I was 18 years old which would be 1967, I was part of a loose group consisting of Pat Burke, Arthur Reveille, Hank Pelzer, Bill Boxhill, Bill Jameson, myself, Des Butler and Bob Atkinson and maybe a few other but I canít remember. We were part of a round robin group who went to each otherís homes. About the time, maybe a year later, Pat Burke came up with the idea to form a club. Over the period of a few months, we formed a club over in Georgetown, in Palmers Lane. Patís mother-in-law, Mrs OíLeary, owned the property. Down the back there was a very rough open shed which had been a joinerís business. It was her property and she agreed we could use the shed if we paid her a certain amount per quarter for electricity. We closed the sides and repaired the roof, patched it up, painted it and connected the power, put fluoros up. There was an extension cord we would run from the shed to the laundry which was external to the house which meant we did not disturb Mrs OíLeary.
After a time, new members came along and joined, I canít remember names: Graham Benney, and later Charlie Agland would have been some of them. Bob Atkinson found a plan in a model railroad magazine, he thought would be suitable for the club and, at a meeting, we agreed to implement the plan. The plan was basically a folded dogbone. In the middle, it came out into a peninsula where there was a station. Return loops were underneath the station area. So we started building to this design. Bob was a very good carpenter and he had a bench saw. We used to get old boxes and stuff which he ripped up into timber and the layout gradually got built over a period of time. The layout was started and track laid and that was the start of the Newcastle HO Model Railway Club. When I was 24, I moved to Sydney. I kept up my membership but never attended and after a year in Sydney. I came back to live in Cessnock, and for a short period I came along and probably about June of í74, I ceased membership of the club. At that point they were still in Mrs OíLearyís shed.
I joined in 1972 after I moved up to Newcastle in 1971 and having a young family which curtailed outside activities, I decided to take up a childhood hobby. I made some enquiries with people at work and one of the people said that her brother was a member of the club and he said there was a club at Georgetown if you wish to join. When I got in there, the layout had just about been completed. The trackwork had been done, the electrics had been done by John Sternbeck who was an industrial electrical fitter by trade and he had it fitted with cab control. The changes later on were that we started to add a little scenery. I quake in horror when I think of what I did to the scenery in those days. Chris Minohan was a member in those days. Later on, Chris Minohan who was an electronics engineer started to redesign the electrics. At that time we started to think that we didnít know how long Mrs. OíLeary was going to be here, as she was quite an old lady so we started to look for another possible place for the club. Somebody made enquiries and found that we could apply for crown land here at Adamstown. We also looked at the site of the Live Steam Society at Edgeworth. They were quite happy to have us there but the conditions meant that we would have had to be open to the public on the last Sunday to coincide with their opening. We decided not to take that option. The application for Adamstown was approved, One of the members, the late Doctor Graham Benney, had a friend who was a bank manager and he got about half a dozen people to get together to go guarantors for the loan. The loan was obtained. By that time there was a member named Stuart Wrightson. He was a contracting civil engineer by profession who oversaw a lot of the construction. We laid reinforcing for the concrete and the laid the slab. The shed was built and at that stage we had membership of about 25. For some reason, which I donít know, the membership started to reduce over time and it to the stage where there was only about half a dozen active members. We got to the point where we realized the loan which was $3 per week per member would never be repaid. We put it to the surviving members of the club that we work out what each owed and asked them to pay out their share. It just over $300, about the cost of one brass locomotive in those days. A lot of us were on limited wages but we managed to do this and discharged the loan and became residents of the club and the land it was on. The numbers still seemed to be dropping down, and very little work was being done on the layout, which was quite comprehensive. The shed was fully occupied by a HO layout. We were approached by another person, called Warren McClean, who was tied up with a club which had something to do with a signal box? They had a layout which could be dismantled at a church hall in Cardiff and having to dismantle it every time was a pain. So they came and had a discussion and it was agreed that the two clubs should join. They had the money and the members because they ran the Newcastle Exhibition at the time. The two clubs were combined in the mid 1980s.About 1988-89, I left the club and pursued my own interests in the hobby with round robin groups and came back only about 3 years ago in 2011.