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Preserving History in the Diminutive: Pendon Museum Trust

A man’s passion for model trains and English village life combined to become a museum located in Long Wittenham near Didcot, Oxfordshire, England. Roye England was an Australian who relocated to England in 1925 and as he put it, “fell in love twice in one day,” when he traveled on the Great Western Railway to his new home in the Vail of the White Horse. From that moment, England began a love affair with both trains and
rural England. As a way to combine both loves, England became a passionate model railway enthusiast with a dream to preserve the look of rural England with its thatched cottages and small villages of England in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His first attempt at a model house was a reproduction of the Calley Arms, a
 real building near where he lived. He created it with its original thatched roof. The project was begun in 1931 and was completed in 1936.


In 1954, Roye England opened a hostel that contained the beginnings of an exhibit with a model train setup against a background of rural England with dollhouse like thatched cottages, gardens, and other rural scenery. The visitors to the hostel became the first visitors to the mini museum. Some of the material used to create the Lilliputian villages was a little odd as modeling material was scarce after the Second World War. The museum from the beginning was a voluntary organization depending on the good will of local people and visitors to keep it going. Interest in the museum grew and both model train lovers and those who loved miniatures volunteered their time and effort. To keep the standards high for the model villages and scenes, volunteers were first asked to create a pint sized privy or outhouse so that their skills could be evaluated. To this day those volunteers that want to get involved in creating dollhouse like small houses, churches and other buildings start off by making privies. These privies are now part of their own collection which is on display in the museum.

The museum has now expanded to a much larger building and is part of the Pendon Museum Trust. There is also a tearoom and a gift shop attached to the museum for visitors to enjoy. All of the models and train cars are hand built to scale and are modeled after real trains and villages. There are several train lines featured including the Dartmoor branch, the Madder Valley and the Vale of White Horse which is due to be completed in 2020. The British Railway Modelling Magazine featured the Pendon Museum in their December 2012 issue and have put up a youtube video about the museum which is enjoyable to watch.

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