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The Fry Model Railway

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While the operation of 071s in multiple might not have occurred, the operation of two NIR 111s has taken place on the IÉ network (just). The Irish Traction Group's 'Hunslet Farewell' tour on 21 April 1990 featured locos 111 and 113 in multiple between Belfast Central and Dundalk. The tour train was attached to the regular 17:00 ex-Belfast giving a total of 12 carriages (all NIR stock), which, with the two locomotives, must have made a fine sight. Between Dundalk and Dublin Connolly the train was worked by just one (not sure which) of the locos. On another occasion, the ITG's 'Last Resort' tour on 17 November 1990, IÉ 071 was paired with NIR 111 for the run between Belfast Central and Portrush and back to Central. The short headshunt in Portrush meant that the locos had to be split and run round the train separately.

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On another occasion, the ITG's 'Last Resort' tour on 17 November 1990, IÉ 071 was paired with NIR 111 for the run between Belfast Central and Portrush and back to Central. The short headshunt in Portrush meant that the locos had to be split and run round the train separately.


I'd have paid to see that particular waltz, like the lazy mating ritual of two fat geese :-bd


I'm not into mating rituals of either diesels nor geese, just to be clear :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 8 years later...
On 19/11/2020 at 10:27 AM, airfixfan said:

Found this in Heritage Railway magazine February 2013. This may interest John?


On 4/5/2012 at 10:02 AM, BosKonay said:

I miss the old Fry museum layout. It was vast and an assault on the senses it had so much action going on. O gauge has a real presence. But it certainly was not Europes biggest model railway, quite possibly Irelands largest layout back then when it was O gauge. Enjoyed watching the youtube above again that Stephen had posted 8 years ago.

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Superb stuff - yes, I've a copy of that somewhere!

With the Covidpox, there's no way of knowing when the new one will open again.

You're right, it wasn't remotely close to being the biggest in the world, even then. Nowhere close to it. There's a Russian businessman with a layout so vast that it takes 35 people to operate, and extensive training is necessary first. He has it in a vast warehouse he owns, and which he had to extend. There's the thing in Germany, plus numerous privately owned layouts - especially in America. I saw an article in an American model railway magazine many years ago showing a privately owned one with four-track main lines, and huge trains of maybe fifty bogie container double-deckers with all the locos of Tara Junction in front of each one....

To go back to Malahide, you're not the first to lament the lack of "0" gauge, nor the lack of size.

The history of how the Malahide Casino came to be what it is today is a complex one, with enough intrigue to write a book. We have the donation by Mr Gaffney, we have varying opinions about what location was the best place for the Fry stuff to go, controversies about how it managed to migrate from Dublin Tourism to Fingal Council, plus the not inconsiderable matter of the current scheme suffering from the "Designed-by-a-committee" syndrome.

By the time the Fry collection of models was to be got ready for display, and the layout built, various legal, financial, timescale and practical difficulties had resulted in the building in which both were to be housed - being already designed and built. At a very early stage, it was pointed out that the model display cabinets did not allow a complete train to be displayed anywhere - individual models in individual cases, to start with. Now, compared with the layout issue, that's a minor problem, and some say that the models are better the way they are; overall the feedback is good, so we'll park that. But the point is that they had already been installed!

At the same meeting, it was pointed out that the whole building as rebuilt was simply not big enough for half of what had been in the castle, and that making a brand new 00 gauge layout was, in terms of time, money and space, the only option then available, short of demolishing the extension of the building and building a new one.

Now, there's a LOT more than that to the whole thing; all of which may be summed up in two points:

1. If designing a visitor attraction, ensure that adequate planning and funding is complete and approved by all stakeholders before cutting a sod. (Not all of this was possible in Malahide, so I'm not blaming the planners at all - there were time and finance constraints which could not be got around; but in general.....)

2. What is there now, is there now. It is what it is! We must enhance it as best we can and encourage events and exposure. It's better than having Fry's models wrapped forever in newspaper in a store-room in Malahide Castle, and an 00 gauge layout remains a spectacle to be seen. And yes, both Murphy 121s and IRM "A"s have been ordered..........

In the future, a number of enhancements are planned. Fry took a fair number of photos, as very many of us will know. The vast majority are black and white, but he got a colour camera about 1961. I plan to get some of these enhanced properly and displayed there, and a number of his collection of railway artefacts (e.g. the anemometer from Quilty Station on the West Clare, and a Tralee & Dingle loco bell) have to be displayed.

I am delving through what little is left of his books and papers which his family still have, especially photos. Most of these photos appear to be duplicates of what is in the "Cyril Fry Collection", which IRRS members here will be familiar with through Hassard Stacpooles' picture shows. There are a few new shots. The family also retain several of his models, as of course is their right; these are not, thus, part of what is legally the "Cyril Fry Collection". There's a half-built pair of Dublin trams, for example, and several locomotives in varying stages on uncompleteness.... Some of this stuff may also eventually be on display.

There are some clauses in the agreement between Cyril Fry's widow and Dublin Tourism which are of relevance and interest going into the future: his models, for example, must never be displayed with any others! So, we cannot display the ones built for the large Castle layout alongside his. This is, however, "got around" by having a train of them going round on an upper track, but they can't go into the display cases! Also, Fry's OWN models may not run ever again, even if there WAS an "0" gauge layout, and the models (given their age) were fit for it...................

And I owe the reception staff some choccy bikkies to replace the ones from the fridge...... Must not forget that.

Edited by jhb171achill
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  • 1 year later...

The February edition of the Railway Modeller has an "insert" of the first ever edition of the magazine (about A5 size (at 1/6 - under 10 Eurocents to the youngsters), published  in October 1949.

On pages 3 - 6 is a description of The Irish International Railway and Tramway System described by "Mr and Mrs Cyril L Fry. Even then, the railway had SIXTY locos and FIFTEEN trams.

By way of contrast, the February 2022 edition has an advert from some bunch called Irish Railway Models promoting their A Class diesels - which weren't even a gleam on Oliver Bulleid's eye when the first RM was published!



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