It was in November of 1988 that my wife and I migrated from our birth county of Suffolk to Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Little did I realise that this move was going to give me the inspiration for my present project.

At this time the railway, that had run from the nearby station of Radley, on the Didcot to Oxford line, had ceased for about four years. It lost its passenger service in the sixties followed by complete closure when the MG car factory in Abingdon closed. The cars being the main reason for the lines survival, along with a fortnightly coal train.

In 1988, if my memory serves me right, most of the platform and the entire stable block remained. But it was not until the end of 2002 that a friend, Phil, and I decided that we would work on a joint project to recreate, in 4 mm form, the railway as an exhibition layout. It was then that it occurred to me that, with hindsight, I should have been snapping away like mad when I first moved to Abingdon.

I, like most, take for granted our environment, and it is not until a few years later that we realise just how much it is changing. It is then we find that we have not recorded what was there before and all too quickly it is too late.

As the summer drew to a close the idea of building Abingdon was floated. It was not long before Phil and I decided to push ahead with the project.

Phil started in earnest, building the signal box. This is the first time he has entered the Model Railway world but he has produced a model that I, having been dabbling with models for 25 years, just wish I could produce. So I decided to do some research and see if I could obtain a few more photographs.

The internet for me has proved to be such a wonderful tool. I joined a web ring dedicated to railways with an emphasis on modelling. Having put out an appeal for information on The Abingdon Branch, I had so much material back it became very difficult to keep pace with it. I always feel that if some one has taken the time and trouble to send you an email, no matter if it was of use or not to you, the very least one can do is acknowledge it with a thank you.

I then wrote an email that I copied to every Model Railway Group and Club secretary I could find on the web. Once again the response was brilliant. My thanks must go to every one who took the time and trouble to help me.

After all the information had been processed and thanks had been sent to all correspondents, the leads where followed up. This yielded a vast amount of information. Books that had been suggested were either ordered from the library or begged and borrowed from various sources. We have just now got to the end of all the books that could be found.

One of the emails received came from a gentleman who lives in Australia. He is also working on a 4 mm scale layout of Abingdon and was very pleased to share his research with us. Like wise, when it’s all co-ordinated, we will be sending him our collection of information.

While at a local exhibition just after the New Year, I was talking to a local exhibitor about this project and one of the photographs we had been given the evening before showing a canoe strapped to a 14XX locomotive, and he recited the story behind it. This is what inspired me to take a slightly different approach with the research. I have just put out an appeal on local radio for any one who was connected with the railway to get in touch. I intend now to record on to tape their memories of the railway. As a spin off to this the local BBC Radio Station has expressed interest in using some of the material for a possible half hour special programme.

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© 2006 Phil Jose.  All Rights Reserved.