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Vendor Robin Price is The Big Issue’s answer to Rod Stewart

It’s not just rock royalty building up a head of steam for model railways. Weston-super-Mare seller Robin explains why the little locos keep him on track

I got into model railways again about a year ago because it was a bit of relaxation. I love it. A model railway is never finished in my eyes. You can always find something new to do with it, add more trees or a bit of shrubbery here or there. You build it up as you go along. I did each corner one at a time.

I’m in the process of changing the yard. It’ll be four lines with a refuelling road, lights and a jack as well where they can do maintenance on a locomotive. A very dear friend of mine helps with the electronics. I’m no good at that, I’d blow up the flat. Underneath the board there’s wires going to the junction board which leads to a switch where you can turn them on and off.

My layout is a fictional place. I haven’t thought of a name for it. Maybe Robinsland. I’m trying to do the 1990s, just as privatisation was taking over. That’s why you’ll see an InterCity engine with blue and red coaches because that’s how it was during the transition.

Model railways aren’t a cheap hobby but I did rehab about seven years ago. I was heavily into drink and drugs. The money I’d have been doing naughty things with I use on the model railway. Turning a negative into a positive, so to speak.

If you are thinking of buying a set as a Christmas present, my advice would be to get one of the great starter sets available, just a little roundy-roundy. Remember you can add to it. You can make it bigger, you can make it smaller. A starter set might come with a steam engine and three trucks but it also comes with a track plan as well, so you can actually build onto that. You can actually nail it to a board and eventually you’ll get the gist.

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If you want to buy a present for someone who already has a train set, what I would do is sneak a little look at their layout to see what they’ve got and then try to blend in with that.

Model shops are good places to buy but to be fair, in this day and age, eBay can be your best friend. If you want quality there’s new stuff coming out from companies like Bachmann and Dapol that have got working lights inside the carriages, exhaust fumes, horns – they are just like the real thing – but they can be very pricey.

You can go a bit OTT. My dad has got a steam-train set and they’re even more expensive. He has some where the actual pistons move up and down and you have to light a fire to get it going.

My dad worked for the railways so I’ve always been around trains. I don’t mind standing in the cold videoing trains all day long. On my YouTube channel I upload lots of videos, and also everything new with my set.

Personally, I’d like to create Clapham Junction but I’ve only got a one-bedroom flat and that would be 17 platforms, so I don’t think the missus would let me get away with that. Mine is only five foot by three-and-a-half foot but honestly I can sit there for hours, doing a little shunting with the three sidings I’ve got, just watching the trains going around.

Robin sells The Big Issue in Weston-super-Mare. See his railway on his Twitter account @robinprice1975 or find him on YouTube. He was speaking to Steven MacKenzie

Images: Heidi Burton

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