The first powered locomotive gave rise to more than travel; it began an enduring fascination with all things connected to railways. Many early enthusiasts built their own scale models but the first comprehensive model railway was introduced by toy manufacturer Marklin in 1891.
Marklin still produce model railways today. The three rail power system is unique to the company, although they have brought their system up to date with an integrated digital control system. They typically model German trains but have branched into international models as well.
The history of model railways could not be complete without mention of Hornby. Hornby pioneered the 00 gauge trains which would later become the standard in UK modelling. The Zero 1 master control developed in the late 70s, although discontinued, is still highly sought after by collectors as are original, packaged models.
Model railways vary from simple wooden, click together track for children to complex multi-engine systems for the more discerning modeller; however, track, control systems and power requirements vary across brands.
In the UK 00 gauge is standard and can be used with HO track, although the scale of the models is not always compatible. Seasoned hobbyists may use a mixture of gauges and scales to create perspective.
For the true enthusiast, other accessories including scenery and buildings became widely available, even essential. Whether for monetary value or a simple pleasure, model railways enjoy a special place in many people's hearts - an immersive hobby where the only limit is the imagination.