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Some thoughts on building models of all types and sizes


Some thoughts on building models of all types and sizes

Welcome. If you have not visited Minature Buildings before can I suggest you begin with my Aims and Scope article or at the Home Page. If you have visited before - welcome back. I hope this article is of interest to you.

UK Church 'railway' models

This article focuses on models produced in or around OO or N scale for the railway modelling market.  But you will not be surprised to see it wander off track in places.  This is a spin off from my more general article on Church models and I comment in that article how most suppliers in the market opt for the same sort of prototype.  I'm planning a similar article on US models but that is still a while away.  And I should take a look at 'European' models which, in reality, probably means German.  But this piece is about UK examples.  Beginning with offerings from two of the big names:

Scalescenes downloadable file TO14 available in 1/76 and 1/148. You can choose from three different surfaces - flint, coursed rubble or squared rubble.

Scalescenes downloadable file TO14 available in 1/76 and 1/148. You can choose from three different surfaces - flint, coursed rubble or squared rubble.

From Metcalfe. A cardboard kit sold as HO/OO.  So which is it: 1/87 or 1/76? 245x130 so you need a good size layout to fit it in.  It is the only model I have seen (so far) to include a lych gate.

From Metcalfe. A cardboard kit sold as HO/OO.  So which is it: 1/87 or 1/76? 245x130 so you need a good size layout to fit it in.  It is the only model I have seen (so far) to include a lych gate.

You can if you wish buy your model ready made:

Originally sold by Graham Farish, but now rebranded by Bachmann as part of their Scenecraft range. 1/148 N scale.  Made of cast resin and ready painted.  They also produce an OO scale church

Originally sold by Graham Farish, but now rebranded by Bachmann as part of their Scenecraft range. 1/148 N scale.  Made of cast resin and ready painted.  They also produce an OO scale church

In OO scale this will cost you a whopping £86.17 on e-bay.  It's no longer shown in the Bachmann site.

In OO scale this will cost you a whopping £86.17 on e-bay.  It's no longer shown in the Bachmann site.

A welcome variation from country churches with a tower is Kingsway Models' St Jude's Church.

St Jude's Church from Kingsway, a card kit rather than a download

St Jude's Church from Kingsway, a card kit rather than a download

Changing materials again, Petite Properties offer their St Thomas church model in three scales, 1/48, 1/76 and 1/148:


This is the 1/148 version.  Once it is assembled it is up to you how you decorate it.  Fortunatly the stained glass windows are provided.
My build of St Thomas's from Petite Properties has an article all to itself


This is the 1/148 version.  Once it is assembled it is up to you how you decorate it.  Fortunatly the stained glass windows are provided.
My build of St Thomas's from Petite Properties has an article all to itself

Or you can assemble a plastic kit.  This one was originally an Airfix kit lanched in 1958 as partof their Trackside series.  But it is now sold under the Dapol Kitmaster brand.  Marketed as OO some comments suggest it is more like HO.  The early Airfix packaging described it as both.  A wierd statement which I have commented on before.  Enough said.  It is a little different from most offerings, a smaller more modest building:

Apparently this kit was modelled on the Old St Boniface church at Bonchurch near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.  Andrew Grantham's site describes how he adapted the kit to make it a little more like the original.  An article that is worth a look.  The consensus elsewhere seems to be that this is still a nicely done model even though it is still being made from the original moulds from 60 or more years ago.

The Dapol kit as reworked by Andrew Grantham.

The information about the model's Airfix heritage came from an amazing site compiled and owned by Airfix enthusiast Dan Parish.  Vintage Airfix is dedicated to detailing the history of Airfix and its products.  Like so many English modellers, Airfix was where I began.

I did get rather sidetracked by this particular model.  Here is another example of what an old plastic kit can be like in the hands of a serious modeller.

The Dapol kit as reworked by George Dent.

Also in plastic kit form is the N scale offering from Kestrel.  Vendors tell us it comes in pre-coloured parts so minimal painting and detailing is required.  Hmm.  There do seem to be better options.

By Kestrel from Gaugemaster.  Not the strongest of the available options

By Kestrel from Gaugemaster.  Not the strongest of the available options

A name I had not come across before, but hoped to return to, is Wordsworth models whose website is www.wordsworthmodelrailway.co.uk . For several days I had problems trying to connect to this site but it now seems accesible again. If you have problems the way I got back to it was via website informer . It is the site of an enthusiast, Mike Martin, who offers well regarded and free downloads of a wide range of building papers and 'kits' for printing and assembling.  Such non-commercial sharing is rare and welcome. His offerings include two churches which I'm planing to have a go at soon.

St Michael's and St Cuthbert's Churches from Wordsworth

As predicted, not everything in this article fits exactly inside the billing of 'railway scales'.  The next example is produced by Dolls House Direct.  It is in 1/12 scale.

1/12 scale, also available in 1/24

1/12 scale, also available in 1/24

I have my reservations about this MDF and wood model.  You can buy it as a kit for £175 or assembled for £364.  Which seems rather a lot.  DHD say "Village Church Churches of this design can be found in most villages throughout the UK".  There may (possibly) be churches like this but it seems rather truncated.  A tiny nave and no chancel.  It is 900mm long, which scales up to just under 11 metres.  On the small side for a church!  The description of it is rather odd: "A traditional church is always separated by two buildings, one being the tower and the other being the hall. With this design access to these 2 rooms are via the side of the church being hinged..."  For a model at this scale it seems lacking in detail.

Also outside the core scales are some models produced for the wargaming market.  The next image is from Warbases in 28mm scale (1:56), though they say it could be a large church in 15mm scale.  A dual purpose that seems to me to ignore the size of the doors - usually a good test of scale size..  The model is 230mm long which mutiplied by 56 equates to only 12.9 metres.  Only a little better than the dolls house style model.

The supplied Warbases kit and how it can be finished

The supplied Warbases kit and how it can be finished

My 1/148 Petite Properties model scales up to nearly 24 metres and even that is a bit short for a real church.  Does anybody produce commercially something fully sized?  Choosing it only as a church I know personally, St Peter's in Berkhamsted is 51m long and 26m high.  At 1/76 that would be a whopping 67 cm long and 34 cm high.

Holy Trinity at Long Melford is around 75m long - even in N scale that would be just over half a metre.
Churches can be big though this one is exceptional!

Holy Trinity at Long Melford is around 75m long - even in N scale that would be just over half a metre.
Churches can be big though this one is exceptional!

There is a model within the church but I do not know what scale it is. Looking at the size of the table I guess it is somewhere between 1/50 and 1/100.

The model shows the curret tower and two previous ones

The model shows the curret tower and two previous ones

If you don't like what is on offer commercially you can of course model from scratch.  One man who did exactly that was John Ingleby.  He lived near John O'Groats in Scotland but the model is of St Mary's Church in Embsay in his native Yorkshire.

Truly a labour of love. It took him 6 years, an estimated 4000 workshop hours plus the on-site surveying time. and from the measurements given in the Craven Herald article the model seems to be somewhere round 1/76 scale. Why so long?  "Using Yorkshire stone from his garden, Mr Ingleby painstakingly crafted thousands of tiny stones, each measuring about 4mm in length.  Using tweezers, and PVA glue in place of mortar, each one was delicately positioned into place.  Pieces of slate, 1mm thick, were attached to the roof.  Even the stained glass windows are an accurate replica of those at St Mary's.  Mr Ingleby printed photographs of the windows on to transparent plastic, which he then placed between thin sheets of glass. "

Another interesting, and rather more complex, model can be seen on the site of 'The Modelmaker' illustrating the modelling process. The original being modelled is St Bartholemew's in Dublin. I'm not sure who is behind this site. He describes himself as "an architect, designer, customizer, model maker and geek" but seems rather coy about his identity.

The model is in resin moulded from laser cut cardboard masters in scale 1:160 (N scale).

The model is in resin moulded from laser cut cardboard masters in scale 1:160 (N scale).

Another scratch built model is on the 'Wrenton' layout built by Roger Beckwith. His site includes a section on how he built it. I'm impressed.

Wrenton Church, in N scale

Wrenton Church, in N scale

It forms part of a layout rather than just being a stand alone model.

Wrenton Village

Wrenton Village

Another one-off piece, built for the church concerned, is this model of the old parish church, Holy Trinity, at Sunderland built by local modelmaker Fred Gooch, as described in a Sunderland Echo article and in the Churches Consevation Trust site . The second article shows pictures of three stages of construction.  Although the model is said to be of painted plastic it is not your regular plasticard; maybe acrylic sheet?

The 1/100 scale model has a removable section to illustrate how the church was (left) and how it is today (right).

The 1/100 scale model has a removable section to illustrate how the church was (above) and how it is today (below).

A rather different style of church is the next one, modelled by Delaney.

I think this came from a Facebook group - Mostly Card and Paper?

>

I think this came from a Facebook group - Mostly Card and Paper?

Outside the mainstream, and maybe of interest just for that reason are some images of 'Linka' models of churches.  Linka was a system of moulds from which the modeller cast sections of buildings which then had to be stuck together.  The business collapsed .....

An exception to the almost universal Parish church with tower and low chancel is the next example, produced by Hornby:

A Tin Tabernacle from Hornby

A Tin Tabernacle from Hornby

Except for that Hornby model, almost everything we have looked at so far is of Anglican parish churches.  A brand new and very welcome addition, as at March 2024, is this non-conformist chapel from Scalescenes.

Scalescenes model t014a

Scalescenes new model t014a

In a larger than usual scale (16mm or 1/19) used by narrow gauge modellers is this Modeltown kit of a tiny Methodist chapel as built by a contributor to 'World of Railways'.

From a long while back, but apparently still sometimes available were Biltezee paper kits.  They did a chapel:

If you are after a chapel model in 1/76 scale another place to look may be Kingsway Models.  As well as their church model shown earlier they also offer a Methodist chapel and (uniquely?) a Salvation Army chapel or citadel

Card Kits from Kingsway

Card Kits from Kingsway

A rather bigger model of a Methodist Chapel is Linda Smith's 1/12 scale reproduction of Over Methodist Church in Cambridgeshire, which has its own page with multiple images.  A lovely piece of work.

And finally.  This design for a 3D printed model is available to download from My Mini Factory. I have no idea what scale it is - or is that something that the person who prints get to choose?  3D must surely represent the future but whether printing the whole structure is worthwhile I'm not sure.  I suspect that printing the complex details like church windows will be invaluable and I'm toying with the technology as I write this.

Part of the Wee Burgh range from T.Shawn Johnson

Part of the Wee Burgh range from T.Shawn Johnson

If you have other examples to showcase please do let me know.  Having hunted round the internet for examples I at the end found a ready made summary of what was or had been on the market in David Wright's book Creating the Rural Scene: A Guide for Railway Modellers and Diorama Model Makers.  A preview of it is available through Google Books.  He has an extensive section on prototype churches, chapels and churchyrds and then discusses the modelling options.  One great recommendation is York Modelmaking as a source for laser cut church windows.

My very last link is really just for my own benefit, as a way of not losing it.  If you want inspiration for a model take a look at the Hertfordshire Churches website created by an semi-anonymous "Andrew".  A comprehensive list of all the 696 churches and chapels he has been able to identify in my home county. Clear, thorough, extensivly illustrated.  A website to be proud of.  Or, for an alternative but less comprehensive outlook another Herts churches site by 'Stiffleaf'.


As always, please e-mail Miniature Buildings if you have something to add. Comments, criticisms, extra thoughts, pictures, or even complete articles for inclusion in the Miniature Buildings site are all welcome. Or if you would like to be added to my mailing list to hear when a new article is published.

David, last updated March 2024