Jump to content

Model shops Memories

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Some of the older members will remember the wonderful shop of Owens on Bray Main St. In his day he stocked a nice few bits for railway modellers at a time when life was much simpler and modellers were not so discerning or spoilt for choice, and when, if you had an orange and black cl 33 you thought you were the bees knees.

http://www.greystonesguide.ie/bray-a-history/

Link to post
Share on other sites
Some of the older members will remember the wonderful shop of Owens on Bray Main St. In his day he stocked a nice few bits for railway modellers at a time when life was much simpler and modellers were not so discerning or spoilt for choice, and when, if you had an orange and black cl 33 you thought you were the bees knees.

http://www.greystonesguide.ie/bray-a-history/

 

W J Owens in Bray was a massive magnet for photographers, aero modellers, railway modellers, airfix, and dinky/corkie collectors from all over Ireland. IMHO Owens was the single best thing about Bray. In the early years when Bray was still a sea side holiday resort, they used to sell fishing rods, tackle, buckets and spades to sea side visitors during the summer.

 

But more than anything W J Owens was Ireland's number one RC model aero shop as well as one of the best photography and camera suppliers. On Saturdays you could meet modellers for any county in Ireland on their pilgrimage to W J Owens, 41 main street bray, established by Willie's father in 1941. I used to marvel at the window displays of RC model aircraft in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It was the complete modellers heaven.

 

I almost felt a sort of grief when Willie retired in 2004 and closed his doors. His shop was an institution. Willie himself was a gentleman, but it was his modelling knowledge and technical ability that attracted customers from far and wide. He was a modeller himself and an active member of SRFC in Wicklow, so he knew what the hobby wanted. Also innovating from a business sense being one of the first retailers in Ireland to source products direct from overseas manufacturers bypassing traditional UK distribution channels, and therefore had some very good pricing. Aside from Airfix as a child, later railway (Dublo, Triang, later Hornby and even some Lima) and RC gear, I also bought my first Nikon film SLR from Willie and used to buy my dark room supplies from him (chemicals, paper, film, etc). I have fond memories of him totalling up the bill on the usual back of a small brown paper bag, pretending to look startled and embarrassed at the total. If WJ Owens had not existed I doubt I would have got RC flying, nor photography.

 

Pure nostalgia. There are few specialists left in the hobby business. Along with Marks models, John Gunn photography in Wexford street are some of the few golden nugget retailers that still exist.

Link to post
Share on other sites
In his day he stocked a nice few bits for railway modellers at a time when life was much simpler and modellers were not so discerning or spoilt for choice, and when, if you had an orange and black cl 33 you thought you were the bees knees.

 

That statement is nothing but cloaking your own opinion as fact. Its gotten easier to have better models but there have always been those who strove for better. A prime example for Irish modellers would have been Cyril Fry

 

The internet came along at the right time for Willie, an easy retirement. Was a big adventure heading out to Bray on the Dart too

Edited by Blaine
Link to post
Share on other sites

Owens was certainly an institution - like the Tardis bigger on the inside than the outside! In the 1960s for Airfix soldiers and in the late 1970s I bought my first camera there (a Zenith E) the afternoon before I set-off to photograph the weedsprayer on the North Kerry. Happy days.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Owens was certainly an institution - like the Tardis bigger on the inside than the outside!

 

You hit the nail on the head. Brilliant analogy. You'd ask Willie for some specialist part or item that you'd never expect to be in stock, but he'd nip through the back door behind the counter into the tardis, you could hear his footsteps disappear into the distance down all manner of imaginary secret passages, making rummaging noises, while you made small talk with his amiable assistant Sean, and after a while he'd return from the shops secret caves with the item sought. You imagined the rear of that shop was an Aladdin's cave of modelling treasure. I never got back there - it was hallowed ground.

 

. . . if you had an orange and black cl 33 you thought you were the bees knees.

 

Indeed - I bought both these pair of Lima class 33s (CIE 215) from Willie Owens in the 1970s, and you are right I though they were the bees knees and the cats whiskers of A class look-a-likes.

LimaCIE_Class33s.JPG

 

. . . and these Lima pseudo CIE wagons

IMG_4432.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Owens was certainly an institution - like the Tardis bigger on the inside than the outside! In the 1960s for Airfix soldiers and in the late 1970s I bought my first camera there (a Zenith E) the afternoon before I set-off to photograph the weedsprayer on the North Kerry. Happy days.

I didn't buy it there, but the best camera that I've ever had was my old Soviet Fed 4 - it just made you take better shots, somehow.

 

I would love it if somebody made digital inserts for old 35mm film cameras.

Link to post
Share on other sites
That statement is nothing but cloaking your own opinion as fact. Its gotten easier to have better models but there have always been those who strove for better. A prime example for Irish modellers would have been Cyril Fry

 

The internet came along at the right time for Willie, an easy retirement. Was a big adventure heading out to Bray on the Dart too

 

I'm not cloaking anything just giving a personal opinion and observation, that's something that seems to be getting harder to do on here when people's personal views and opinions are criticised by 'experts' who seem to feel they can speak for everyone else on realism and accuracy on model railways in Ireland. There might have been those who strove for more accuracy in their modelling of Irish railways in that period but for the majority of mere mortals it was repaints of BR rtr products and I for one was happy to have a couple of them at the time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
That statement is nothing but cloaking your own opinion as fact. Its gotten easier to have better models but there have always been those who strove for better. A prime example for Irish modellers would have been Cyril Fry

 

The internet came along at the right time for Willie, an easy retirement. Was a big adventure heading out to Bray on the Dart too

 

Seriously? Why jump down the throat of someone who was simply reminiscing? Infraction issued.

 

Let's move along, folks...

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not cloaking anything ....... There might have been those who strove for more accuracy in their modelling of Irish railways in that period but for the majority of mere mortals it was repaints of BR rtr products and I for one was happy to have a couple of them at the time.

 

Well said. I couldn't agree more.

 

I papered - yes, paper, BR Mk 1s, with felt-tip-coloured paper "wrappings" in orange and black - and stuck them behind a BR class 31 - to approximate CIE, in 1970 or so, as a young teenager. It served what was then the best purpose possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Noonan's in Charleville had an astounding range of toys in the 70's. RC planes, comprehensive Airfix and Matchbox kit range, Action Man and of course Hornby and Lima. I spent many the hour in there when over visiting my gran.

 

 

And down the road was Dicks who had a super range of Dinkys. And all this in a small north Cork Town.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Grace's in Dún Laoghaire, though I don't think he did railways, but I remember row upon row of the blue and yellow Matchbox boxes. And of course, the original Southern Model Railway Co in Leeson Street in the 1960s. Nowadays probably a nightclub, then it was an Aladdin's Cave of all things model railway, as well as Minic and books. I got my first railway book there, the 1968 published Irish Railway Album by CP Boocock. Price 30/-, a mind numbing amount for a schoolchild!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I started studying the Triang-Hornby catalogue and picked out my 1st proper trainset a Triang-Hornby South African Goods in Terrys Toy Shop Henry Street when I was 12. During the summer holidays I explored the shops that stocked model railways eventually wearing a track through the city centre between Leeson Street and Monck place.

 

Besides toy and hobby shops some bicycle/radio/tv shops stocked model railways including Mc Hugh Himself in Talbot Street, a radio/tv shop on Mary Street opposite the Jervis Centre, I came across a treasure trove of old Tri-ang track and accessories including Block Instruments in a shop at the corner of Grafton Street and St Stephens Green.

 

My horizons widened as I got a bit older to include the Model Shop in Rathfarnham Shopping Centre and occasional visits to George Hannan's shop in Malahide. The shop in the Rathfarnham Shopping Centre was managed by John Byrne who commissioned the first Irish Lima rtr models. Declan Lonegan a talented modeler and former Secretary of the MRSI assisted in the Rathfarnham shop on Saturday afternoons, was very helpful and some times brought along models assembled from whitemetal kits including a GEM LNWR Jumbo 2-4-0

 

George Hannan was an accomplished Narrow Gauge modeler and artist, who's model of Killybegs was featured in the Railway Modeller during the early 60s also built a 009 rabbit layout with scratch built models of Welsh Narrow Gauge locos and stock.

 

I went through much the same experience though I had deeper pockets when I moved to the UK in the mid-80 often spending my weekends for the first couple of years visiting model shops and exhibitions in London and the South East.

Link to post
Share on other sites
My horizons widened as I got a bit older to include the Model Shop in Rathfarnham Shopping Centre and occasional visits to George Hannan's shop in Malahide. The shop in the Rathfarnham Shopping Centre was managed by John Byrne who commissioned the first Irish Lima rtr models. Declan Lonegan a talented modeler and former Secretary of the MRSI assisted in the Rathfarnham shop on Saturday afternoons, was very helpful and some times brought along models assembled from whitemetal kits including a GEM LNWR Jumbo 2-4-0.

 

John, you are triggering all kinds of positive nostalgia memories. Does the nickname of 'Count Drac' ring any bell in relation to Rathfarnham shopping centre? I vaguely remember small in-store scenic layouts including N and Z gauge under glass counter tops, and 00 gauge running around the shop on an elevated shelf just below ceiling level. I remember him being a major Wrenn stockist, and my pilgrimages to the store in the 70s. Noel

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use