AN award-winning railway modellers club is looking for a new home after 35 years in the same timber barn due to a recent notice from the landlord.

Winchester Railway Modellers club, which currently meets within the Grange Hampshire Estate in Itchen Abbas, has been told by its landlord that the club could have to vacate within three years

The landlord’s decision depends on whether they choose to redevelop the land. Although there’s still time, the club is now on the search for a new permanent venue which could host its members and three model layouts of up to 25ft long.

Another reason for their departure is the sharp rise in rent which has increased by a “crippling” five times for 2023 according to the chair of Winchester Railway Modellers.

The notice dampened the spirits of club members following their prestigious award win at the Warley National Railway exhibition in November. The club beat out more than 30 exhibits in its category, placing the model railway layout among the best in the country.

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Chair John Shaw said: “I felt sick when we found out. We know we’ve not paid very much over the past 35 years but we’ve not been any trouble and they’re quite happy to have us there.

“We’ll carry on where we are for the short term and I hope that the landlord changes his mind and doesn’t want to redevelop. He wants his pound of flesh and that’s fair enough. It’s a shame but it would be nice to have somewhere that’s slightly more permanent.

“We have an awful lot that we’d have to move. We’ve been at this venue since November 1987 and it’s been very satisfactory for us as a club room.

“We have put all our members on alert to ask friends and family if they’re aware of any buildings anywhere.

“Farms are a likely place because buildings are often unused there and it’s far better for them to have a purpose.”

The club requires a sizable venue of around 100 square metres to be able to home the modellers’ layouts.

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Mr Shaw added: “It may not be one building, it could be two or three rooms. We’re pretty adaptable but we need a permanent 24-hour club room as we can’t keep dismantling the exhibition layouts.”

The club formed in 1959 has had several different and unusual clubrooms, including an air-raid shelter in a churchyard in Hyde. With 20 regular participants and more than 30 members in total, the modellers will consider any premises available on a permanent basis with reasonable rent.

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Winchester Railway Modellers won the Bachman Award for their layout of Redbridge Wharf showing the former British Rail sleeper works. The exhibit is due to go on show again in New Milton in the summer.

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