The Gainsborough Model Railway Society was in Chris’s blood

Chris Wragg

Chris Wragg

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For Chris Wragg, his three years as chairman of the Gainsborough Model Railway Society, are the culmination of many years of involvement.

Chris said: “I joined the Society 36 years ago at the age of 11.

“But even before that I used to attend every open day from opening time until closing time, and can remember once being furious on discovering that a family holiday in Blackpool meant that I had missed three open days.”

In many ways the Society was in Chris’s blood, as his father Michael Wragg, whose work with the Royal British Legion and other organisations, had been a member of the Society in the late 1940s and 50s.

Chris said: “My dad was paying more for admission fees than it would have cost for us both to be members, so once I was old enough we joined the club.

“I started out doing the coupling and uncoupling of wagons in one of the goods yard and by the time I left school could operate all the signalboxes.

“There was so much rebuilding going on at that period that it was really easy to get involved with things like building baseboards and wiring up the railway, and by the time I went away to University I had been inducted into the mysteries of how the electrics of the railway worked, something which confuses many modellers.”

Going away to University and then getting a job in Northampton inevitably meant that Chris could rarely make club nights.

He said: “Because my parents still live in Gainsborough, I was still able to carry on as an active member, running the railway at open days and also doing work at weekend when I was home.

“Particularly around open weekends, my parents often comment that seeing them is coincidental to visiting the railway, not the other way round.”

While Chris had sat on the Society committee as representative of the younger members while at school, living a hundred miles away meant Chris resisted going back on the committee as an adult.

He said: “Trevor Pinyoun, who was chairman at the time, kept encouraging me to do so, but I kept resisting.

“Then one year I didn’t attend the AGM and got voted on to the committee in my absence, and have been there ever since.”

Chris became chairman when Richard Woods, who had succeeded Trevor, stepped down three years ago.

Chris said: “It had become pretty obvious that the rest of the committee saw me as the natural successor, and while it’s an honour to be appointed to such a leading role, it does have its difficulties when I only see the rest of the membership and committee occasionally”.

As with many small organisations, the formal role of chairman is only one of the things that Chris does.

He said: “As well as being a signalman on the railway at open days, I also write the press releases, distribute leaflets and act as roster clerk for open days.

“As a modeller, with two model railways at home as well as the Society’s layout, I can turn my hand to many things, electrics, scenery, trackwork, etc.

“But probably my proudest achievement is learning to make locomotives.

“As somebody who primarily works with his mind, I was not sure that able to do this.

“The first locomotive I started is still in a box somewhere at home; but for the second, I asked one of our founder members, the late George Hinchcliffe, to make the chassis for me, which would ensure that, whatever else happened, the loco would run well.

“I made the bodywork, and when things got difficult, George ringing me up and asking if it was finished, gave me the impetus not to give up.”

For more information about the Model Railway Society visit www.gainsboroughmodelrailway.co.uk.