IT’S full steam ahead for a popular annual model rail event, which reached its tenth anniversary milestone at the weekend.

There were plenty of trains, of a miniature variety, to spot, at Newton Aycliffe Rotary Club’s Model Railway Exhibition, staged at the town’s Youth Centre, in Burn Lane.

Club officials said it was “better than ever” with more than 20 layouts, ranging from ‘n’ to ‘0’ scales, depicting settings in the North-East, the wider UK and Europe, spanning various eras from the 1930s to the present day.

Particular interest was centred on a new European ‘TT’ scale layout, while for very young visitors there was a self-drive Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends display, mounted by Shildon Model Railway Club.

Traders were well represented with ten stands selling new and pre-owned model railway items and accessories, including die-cast models, scenery, plus photography and books.

Four full-size preservation societies lent their support, depicting various engineering projects, while other enthusiasts staffed the tombola and refreshment stalls.

Newton Aycliffe is one of only three UK Rotary Clubs to have a railway section.

Club committee chairman John Burrows said: “It’s been an excellent day, very busy throughout, with, probably, between 500 and 600 visitors.

“The layouts were excellent, some of locations we would recognise and others home-built from scratch.

Proceeds from the event are to be split between this year’s two chosen worthy causes, Heel and Toe, a regional cerebral palsy charity, and, appropriately, The Railway Children, which supports young orphans found on stations in India and Africa.

Forward planning to 2020, the club’s rail committee has already pencilled in Saturday March 7, as the date for the eleventh exhibition.