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Good evening all,

Don't know why or what started me thinking about this today but it occured to me how drastically the model railway retail trade has changed in my lifetime.

When I was between the ages of 5 & 10 (which is about 1953 > 1963) even mail order was almost non-existant.In my area (Margate, Kent) there were a few shops that sold model railway stuff. Just to give you an idea of where they were & what they stocked ;

Birchington. Newsagents with basement toy/pram shop. 2/3 HD sets, couple of loco's, few coaches & wagons, a box of each of track, some airfix kits & some merit.

Westgate. Toy/pram shop - about the same as Birchington but all on the same floor.

Westbrook. Newsgents. A few HD bits & pieces & maybe some Airfix.

Margate. Top of the High Street. Toy/pram shop that sold Triang. Again 2/3 sets, locos, coaches & wagons & some track to extend. (My first trainset came from there - a Princess Elizabeth with roller contacts - I thought it was the ultimate at the time).

In addition there was a department store called "Bobbies" with branches in Margate & Cliftonville & I think they sold HD and Triang, but I never went into them - my parents thought it was too exclusive !

The thing is - if you wanted an item that was not on the shelf it had to be ordered - delivery could be anything up to four, yes four weeks ...... We were quite happy to wait too. The only reason you may have shopped around then was to see who had what you wanted in stock - the prices were all the same then (thanks to RPM).

There was no phoning & you went by bus, train, walked or cycled. In those days you were considered well off if you had a car or a telehone. If you had both you were wealthy !

I suspect that this may have been the case elsewhere round the country - how about your area ?

Now, if the item is not actually on it's way to you by the time you hang up the phone or "log off" it's taking too long.

How things have changed.

best regards & take care
Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Further to the above later on (late 60's/early 70s after the demise of the other shops (or rather they stopped selling model railways) there was a shop in Cliftonville called "Thanet Models" - it's now an "adult" shop (so I'm told LOL). This one sold Fleischmann & was responsible for me "going european" & I still have my first Fleischmann loco. Later on it changed hands & moved accross the road.

By this time though, nearly everyone in the area & into UK OO "knew" someone who worked at Hornby - I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions !

Now we don't have a "proper" model railway shop in the immediate area. We have Toymaster (yippee zip) & a general model shop that always looks closed from the outside & on the inside staff and/or owners that will eventually serve you without breaking their conversation with each other.

No wonder the internet & mail order has now gained such a foothold.

best regards & take care
Brian
 

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QUOTE I suspect that this may have been the case elsewhere round the country - how about your area ?

Now, if the item is not actually on it's way to you by the time you hang up the phone or "log off" it's taking too long.

Brian, that was almost exactly my experience as a kid. We had a model shop in our town for a short while then it migrated 10 miles away to Kirkcaldy but still retaining the name Scoonie Hobbies. John Menzies (Scottish equivelant of WH Smith) used to have a reasonable toy section and Woolies had Airfix models.

While some of these stores are stil there they do not sell models or model rail items. Scoonie Hobbies has disappeared now too so the nearest places to where I grew up would be a small shop in St Andrews with a very small selection of model rail items or you'd be going to Dundee or Edinburgh 25miles and 50 miles respectively. I believe that a model shop has opened in Dunfermline but haven't had time to explore that when I was last at home.

I don't think this issue is just model shops but all shops. There are far fewer shops with a far smaller range in my home town now than there were thirty odd years ago. More people have cars and travel further to get a bigger choice. I find with model rail that mail order is the way to go but that is because I'm over here in Australia at the moment. If I was at home I would probably visit model shops more. They are bigger and have more range at home. I would probably still do a fair bit of mail order as the cheaper shops are further away. It's a tricky one as I like the local model shop but want the cheaper prices.
 

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Those of us of a certain age can all relate to that.

I was browsing through some old early 1960's model railway magazines the other day and looking at the adds thinking that none of these shops now exist. Well there was one I recognised. Coves of Cheltenham however I may be wrong but I believe they have closed recently due to the retirement of the owner.

I was amazed by how many stockists London seemed to have. They were everywhere. If you look at the current edition of Model Rail there do not seem to be any! Harrods and Hamleys don't advertise in Model Rail.

These days it takes of town with a population of maybe 100,000 to support a decent sized model railway hobby shop. What you don't get now are those shops dotted here there and everywhere with part of a range stocked. It seems to be an all or nothing job these days and as stated above more travelling by car is now involved. There are 7 or 8 such shops dotted around the West Midlands and whilst they all stock the ranges that you would expect they all have their own speciality thing that draws you to one shop or the other depending on what you are after. It makes you think that each of the stockists keep an eye on what each other are offering.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 9 Nov 2006, 20:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Further to the above later on (late 60's/early 70s after the demise of the other shops (or rather they stopped selling model railways) there was a shop in Cliftonville called "Thanet Models" - it's now an "adult" shop (so I'm told LOL). This one sold Fleischmann & was responsible for me "going european" & I still have my first Fleischmann loco. Later on it changed hands & moved accross the road.

Brian

Oops Brian, is your memory playing tricks? The shop that was Thanet Models is now a furniture shop called "Splinters" which seems to specialise in Swedish pine, the adult shop is next door. My first train set, a clockwork Tri-ang with a blue 0-4-0 diesel shunter came from Thanet Models in 1963 and was my fifth birthday present! When the business closed it moved over the road and was called The Model Shop, where all you could buy, if you could get someone to serve you was Peco track, some plastic kits, and a mass of unboxed "second hand" Hornby. (I wonder where that came from?) This too has now closed and has been converted into a flat.

I also remember that there was a shop in Margate High Street called Henry's. They used to have a railway section in the cellar, complete with layout. The shop is still trading but no longer has it's railway section.

AAh memories............

Regards

John
 
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