The Ilford & West Essex Model Railway Club was formed in 1930 and is one of
the oldest model railway clubs in the UK -
only a handful of clubs such as The Model Railway Club and the
Wimbledon Model Railway Club and the
Manchester Model Railway Society are known to have a longer history.
It all began back in 1930, when a young gentleman by the name of Ronnie Riddle (front right)
advertised for like-minded railway modellers to attend a meeting in Ilford.
The response was encouraging and the seeds of the Ilford & District Model Railway Club were sown.
Then, in February 1935, the West Essex Model Railway club (which had formed three years earlier)
and the Ilford & District were amalgamated to form Ilford & West Essex Model Railway Club.
Ronnie Riddle was the club's founding Secretary and became Life President, enabling his later years
to be the most enjoyable as the club continued to grow in strength.
After the war the club established its headquarters in Hearne Road, Romford. Then in the mid-1950's a
site was found adjacent to Chadwell Heath Railway Station, which to this day provides the
club with its headquarters.
The first incarnation of the club house back in the mid-1950's was two Nissen huts with an LNER E4 cab
as an entrance. Then in 1966 a pre-cast concrete building replaced the Nissen huts.
The club exhibition in those days was a four-day affair held at Ilford Town Hall, with nearly 10,000
enthusiasts attending at its peak. Unfortunately, as the number of clubs and events has grown it has
not been possible to repeat these numbers.
There is no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic affected everyone's plans - in our case we had to cancel the 2020, 2021 & 2022 Annual Exhibitions, and all of our 2020 & 2021 Open Days.
We managed to return to some normality with our 2022 Open Days, but unfortunately have had to cancel our 2023 WEST ESSEX MODELRAIL exhibition due to ongoing logistical and administrative problems with the venue.
However, all being well it should be full steam ahead for our 2023 Open Days, starting on Sunday 02 April. Hope to see you there!