Model train enthusiasts from Corby are on track with preparations for their annual show and an appearance in a TV challenge show.
The Corby and District Model Railway Society team have been filming with Channel 5 for the second series of The Great Model Railway Challenge.
Team members Kevin Emsley, Craig Tyler, Francis Rossi, Mike Smith, Julian Sprott and William Welby chose their name ‘Corby Steelmen’ to honour the town’s heritage.
Their creations, as seen on TV, will be revealed to the public at their model railway show in Corby at the end of October.
In the Channel 5 show, 15 teams of six people compete against the clock and each other to build a variety of themed layouts.
Over an eight-week period the judges whittle down the 15 teams in five heats, to six teams in the semi finals and finally four in the grand final.
To pit their model making and layout skills against teams from across the UK, the society’s Steelmen gathered in the museum in the grounds Fawley Hill - the private Henley-on-Thames estate of multi-millionaire Sir William and Lady McAlpine.
For the heats, teams were allowed to prepare tracks for the layout on base boards which had been provided by the TV show’s production company.
The team had the oldest and youngest team members competing in the series, with 16-year-old William Welby from Kibworth fitting in filming around his GCSE exams.
Francis said: “For the first heat, teams were allowed to prepare the track on two of the three 10ft x 5ft bases. We were then given a budget to get everything we needed to do the landscaping.
“It was tough being filmed - there was a time-lapse camera on us all the time and the studio lights are hot.
“The process is far more stop start than you might think, and it was fun but frustrating having to do things twice so they could get footage.”
Youngest member William said: “It was fun and I’m really looking forward to seeing it on screen.”
The team members enjoyed a friendly rivalry with their fellow competitors but Kevin admitted they had to keep on their toes to get any advantage.
He said: “One morning of filming, we left our hotel where the some of the teams were staying when we noticed some large pieces of polystyrene in a skip.
“We all looked at it and grabbed it and put it in our van - we weren’t sure if we really needed it but we didn’t want the other teams to get hold of it.
“We arrived with a van full of stuff and we still ran out of glue.”
Chairman of the 40-strong member society, Craig Tyler, said: “It was tough going, being thrust into the limelight and having to do all the reaction shots and concentrate on the model.
“We have been allowed to keep the layouts that we made for the show and we will be showing them at our exhibition in October.
“Our group wants to encourage more members to join - there’s something for everyone.
“We welcome everyone from total beginners to experts, from young to old male or female and with being on the TV show we’re expecting a boost.
“Some people like the train side of the society and others join for the modelling aspect.
“We’re a friendly group and we have a large club house which enables to have permanent layouts.
“Every weekend we are busy attending events with our sit-on train helping to raise money for charities.
“We open on special weekends and it’s free to come in with rides around our track only 50p.
“We also go big on Halloween and Christmas decorating the yard.
“This year we’re going to bigger and better with more decorations and lights.”
The society’s annual two-day exhibition takes place Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 5pm and Sunday, October 27 from 11am to 4pm at SS Peter & Andrew Church Hall in Beanfield Avenue, Corby.
Admission costs are £4 for adults, £3 for senior citizens, £2 for children and a family ticket (2+2) is £10.
Viewers will be able to see if the Corby Steelmen come off the rails or make it the final destination when the series pulls out from the TV station.
The Great Model Railway Challenge begins on Channel 5 on Friday, September 13, at 8pm starring the Corby Steelmen team from Corby and District Model Railway Society.
The winning layouts from The Great Model Railway Challenge will be displayed at the NEC in Birmingham in November.
For further information visit the Corby and District Model Railway Society’s Facebook Page.