The Manchester Model Railway Society was formed at a public meeting on March 24, 1925 at The Clarion Café in Market Street. At first, the Society staged half-yearly exhibitions of members’ work at their regular meetings, and it was not until 14th November 1931 that the first public exhibition was staged. This was a one day event at a Sunday school in the centre of Manchester with an admission charge of 3d (1¼p). The event was successful, and by 1933 it had evolved into a three day exhibition at the Albert Hall (just opposite Manchester’s Free Trade Hall) where it continued until 1938.
Click for a Pathe newsreel clip of our 1937 show.
In September 1936, in addition to the regular Society exhibition at Christmastide, the Society put on a display at the Manchester Central Library. This display was open all month and municipal records show that an astonishing 61,500 people attended. The main attraction was a large O gauge layout owned and mostly operated by Mr E Antwis, the Society treasurer and exhibition manager. According to the Society newsletter, the models ran a total of 98 ACTUAL miles, the equivalent of over 11 return journeys from Manchester to London in O gauge! (Photo, right, courtesy Manchester Public Library)
There were no public exhibitions during WWII, though meetings and displays of members’ work continued throughoput the war. The first post-war public exhibition staged by the Society was a three day event in December 1947 attended by over 7000 visitors, although it did supply exhibits for other shows from July 1945 onwards.
Our annual exhibition has been staged at various venues, notably the Corn Exchange, UMIST, New Century Hall and the Armitage Centre. Our 90th birthday year, 2015, was marked by the 78th public exhibition organised by the Society and a triumphant return to the city centre – the only Model Railway Exhibition to be held in the centre of a major UK city.
Click here for details of the layouts at our new exhibition venue: 2015 Exhibition 2016 Exhibition
We have also appeared at many other exhibitions, for example the Northern Modelling Exhibition at EventCity, near the Trafford Centre, on 2nd and 3rd March 2012, where three members’ layouts were on display.