Alex and his wife Kay. Great to see Alex using his SMRS winter jacket somewhere really really cold.
At the Sydney model Railway Society’s last AGM, there was a unanimously passed motion awarding life membership to one of finest modellers, train almanac and all round good bloke, Alex Brown.
It is hard to fathom that Alex has been a member of SMRS for around 40 years, longer that some of our younger members have been alive.
These days Alex lives down in Kiama and doesn’t get to the club too often, although we do get to catch up and have a good chat online or at the re-commencing exhibitions (such as Rosehill the other week).
Alex was generous with his time to provide some amazing background:
Q. When did you join SMRS?
I can’t remember the year I joined, it was early 80’s and the club had just moved to an unused building at Arncliffe Station. I visited the club rooms in December while the main layout was being set out and was really interest, then I joined in the January.
During the 4 weeks between visiting and joining, the layout went from sections on the floor to sitting on frame work with base boards connecting some of the sections. It was a great introduction into the hobby. I very quickly learnt how to lay track working with Geoff Kelley. The main line from Platto Junction to Glenvalle was my first assignment.
Q. Where did your interest in the hobby come from?
I have all my life been a model builder, my father was a pilot with Qantas and this is where my interest turned passion of modelling started. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, particularly to Brisbane (my parents both came from Brisbane), the regular travel by plane and train ignited my passion in modelling. Then one day, Brian Sea who was a club member and the owner of St George Hobbies recommended SMRS to me, and that is when I came down to the club.
Q. Like all clubs, there are many positions which help guide and govern. In what capacities did you help out?
I have held many positions, always wanting to help out. This has included:
· Being on several committees include the Standards Committee and the Operations Committee
· I was also the Assistant Treasurer for quite a period.
· I also spent time organising functions as well.
I have always played a prominent role, I believe helping a club out in every way makes it enjoyable and we get to spend more time modelling.
Q. What are some the highlights you think back on after 40 years of membership?
Firstly, I really have enjoyed making and having lots of friendships. I have a wide circle of friends now and I will cherish these forever. Some of the other highlights including being invited to give presentations at exhibitions and also having my family involved in the hobby.
Q. Everyone has a favourite train – what is yours?
One of the clubs founding members, Ken Smith, was having a clean out of his workshop / modelling room and gave me a bundle of Lima MBE’s and said “see what you can do with these”. I took them and built Set 77, Newcastle flyer in red and cream. I brought them back down to the club and they got so much usage by Ken. Being a 4 car set they could visit Platto and Witt’s End quite easily.
Q. Do you model a particular era?
My favourite era varies with my time in the hobby, I think I have four era’s that are my favourites.
I started with wooden passenger cars, 1900 to 1945, mostly varnish main line and early Tuscan and Russet. My next interest was all the different colour schemes on coaching stock. Then it is the Illawarra operation, both goods and passenger. Now, its Illawarra pre candy plus special interest consists such as the Ambulance Train.
Q. Involvement in the hobby today.
Living down in Kiama these days, I am still active and regularly go to my local club, Illawarra Model Railway Association. I am actively involved there, building and maintaining the layouts there, and I spend lots of time still detailing and building rolling stock.
· DCC or DC? I have both DCC and DC. I am converting some of the DC locos to DCC.
· Steam, Electric of Diesel? Both, steam and early diesel are my interests.
· RTR or Kitbash? Most of my rolling stock has had some modification to them to enhance the appearance or correct an error.
· Timetable operations or free running trains? I enjoy both timetable and general running.
· Prototype or Freelance? Prototype mainly with some What If’s added to fool the public. HA HA.