Boltorr Manifesto

Some people just don’t get it, do they?

Of course, they’re the same people who think you knit because you can’t afford to buy a sweater, or ride a bicycle because you can’t afford a car. You walk, or catch a bus or a train because you’re a loser not because you see a greater, sustainable, more cohesive, more human connection and community. Or play with toy trains, or dolls’ houses, or collect owls.

Is it you complainin’! What’s up with you? You are, essentially, someone who suffers from a distinct lack of imagination, empathy or values. Joy, essentially.

Chris Nevard's Combwich set in the Polden's in Somerset, UK

Chris Nevard’s Combwich set in the Polden’s in Somerset, UK

In my case I’ve resurrected a passion I’ve had for many years. That is, to build a model railway.

People who build model railways have any number of aims. Just watching your trains run round in circles; squeezing as much as possible on an eight by four; running to prototype rules; whatever. Playing toy trains for all I care. Just so long as we get joy out of it.

Sure, it’s an escape from reality, from this mortal coil. But what’s wrong with that for a few minutes a day?

There’s a store near me which is BIG on Lionel trains. Lionel trains are BIG. Essentially very nice – and expensive – toy trains which run on rails and curves which could never be on a real railroad. But they are amazing, and amazingly expensive, of course. But, I would never dream of demeaning a Lionel aficionado for “playing with toy trains” because that’s their bag and besides, Lionel is magnificent.

The Spruce, Coal & Timber Railroad

The Spruce, Coal & Timber Railroad one sunny day

However, for me, I’m looking to build a world that through any eye is plausible, virtually indistinguishable from the real world, yet not the real world.

Yes, not the real world, because in my imagination there is another, maybe more. Who knows how the cosmos works? At every instant does another universe split off?

My aim with Boltorr Road is to explore another universe which might have been, or who knows by the very act of imagining it might actually exist in some barely comprehensible quantum.

I’ve included three images from three model railways which I aspire to. Each has had critics who, when images of the layout have been published come out with, “Well that would never happen”, or, “That loco never ran that headcode”, or, well … who cares?”

Oakley Green MPD. You could have snapped this with your Instamatic

Oakley Green MPD. You could have snapped this with your Instamatic

The thing is they encapsulate the ethos of a railway so that when I look at them I think, “Yes. That’s a railway. I really think that’s the way it is, or at least, was. I believe it.”

Equally importantly, these are models which have been executed in a comparatively small space yet convey a sense of a greater reality set in their builders’ universe.

Boltorr Road Halt is a figment of my imagination. That’s not to say it could never have been, but if it had, it would look something like the world I’m building in the basement. It will look like some little station set on the edge of Dartmoor, on the Devon and Cornwall marches on some vague summer’s day between the 1950s and the 1980s and you will believe it really once was. Maybe you’ll even recall it. I already know it’s out there …

Oakley Green MPD
Spruce, Coal & Timber Railroad

And now, the year moves on. I’ll soon be back to one of my other juvenile passions. Riding bicycles without getting cold. I can’t wait to bore you about that as well …

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