Gauge One’s size, where Railway Modelling and Model Engineering overlap, gives us the best of both worlds. It’s compact enough to create convincing scenes and large enough for the adrenalin of live-steam. Small enough to build on a kitchen table, and chunky enough for children’s hands to put together. Big enough to see every last nut & bolt and portable enough to handle unaided.
Gauge One railways have considerable variety. We’re best known for large oval circuits dominating model railway or engineering exhibitions. The sights, sounds and smells of live-steam draw big crowds to constantly-moving trains. Naturally, some members choose similar raised tracks for their gardens, while others follow their own ambitions. Maybe highly detailed scenery with prototypical train movements; perhaps a country branch line, or industrial sidings. Out of doors, there are busy scenic landscapes, like the Gauge One railway running through Bekonscot Model Village, austere engineering test-tracks, working Block Signalling, or simply rails threading through the open countryside of a lawn.
There’s great variety in our trains too, ranging from meticulous scale detail (even on live-steamers) to simple engines as school technology projects. Metal, cardboard, wood, plastic, live-diesel, battery, Sterling engine, Digital Control, clockwork – even Lego – can all run on Gauge One track alongside our trademark live-steam. Most members run standard gauge trains, and many run narrow-gauge or broad-gauge trains on the same rails (check clearances when visiting other railways!). As in other model railway sizes, those who seek ‘photographic’ realism find that true-scale wheels and track are perfectly practical.
But does impressive size mean impressive cost? Well, a Gauge One train certainly costs more than a ‘Hornby-size’ one, but a great deal less than Ride-On (and probably less than many Hornby collections). There’s a thriving second-hand supply, many kits are available, and Gauge One can be build from scratch using table-top tools. Moreover, there’s still magic left in affordable vintage models over a century old.
Frankly, the most intimidating outlay can be acquiring sufficient space for a track. But if you don’t have enough space at home, Association membership enables you to share tracks. Members meet to run their trains at private gardens, club tracks, hired halls, modelling exhibitions and heritage railways. Across Britain there are two dozen well-organised local groups, and you’re welcome to start another if there isn’t one near you already. A third of our members live in 28 additional countries, half of which have their own local groups. So Gauge One has a strongly international flavour, with models available to represent railways from North America, Asia, Europe and South Africa.
Not all of us can travel to get together, but we do all share our quarterly journal. 96 colour pages of news, specialist adverts, and member-contributed articles cover every aspect of making and running Gauge One railways, reflecting the full breadth of members’ interests. Members have online searchable access to every issue. We also publish a series of books about techniques and projects, and an increasing number of scale drawings and 3D-print files.
Like the local groups, our publications reflect the Association’s spirit of cooperation between individualists. If you would like Gauge One to branch out in new directions, ask fellow members for help to get started.