InFullSteam wrote:Hi everyone,
I was thinking of joining my local railway club so I went to a meeting recently, but I'm not sure. There was about 20 men there, we walked about what was new with us and in the model railway world and watched a steam footage DVD. They seemed to be nice but I really noticed the age gap (all of them were at least twice my age).
What would you do?
It depends pretty much on what you want from a club, and only you can answer that question.
However, and not knowing how old you are, you really shouldn't be surprised that the majority of club members are probably in their 50s/60s/70s: how many 20 year olds do you know who model railways these days [or, more to the point, are prepared to admit it] ? And don't forget either that you'll be 50/60/70 one day also !
If you don't like clubs - are there are many who do not - then clearly it's not going to be for you. If you are not social by nature then, clearly, it's not going to be for you either. However, there is much to gain from joining a club, not least from sharing experience and learning skills.
To give you a flavour of what you could benefit from, my own club now has 80+ members and is thriving. The pool of skills and experience is vast and the majority of modellers are only too happy to help newcomers. Modelling isn't compulsory for members either, for a number it's the social aspect that they attend for. We also have absolutely no train Nazis as members: pompous know-it-alls are made to feel uncomfortable pretty quickly and usually end up voting with their feet. We have an absolute hatred of bureaucracy and have worked hard to shed the pointless, boring and pedantic files of policy statements that amateur committees seem to be so fond of. There is a Committee, it simply exists to safeguard the interests of the club and its members. Any member who wants to be on the committee because they like being on committees hasn't a hope in hell of getting there. We have open nights for guests, winter lectures, summer trips, stock sales, a useful library and an annual modelling competition in five categories. I don't think that we are that unusual either although probably most clubs are smaller. Being open several days a week, the average attendance is probably 35 a time over4 gauges.
The only rigid modelling rule that the club has concerns building layouts: all club layouts now have to be built as dismountables [in case we ever have to move] and also of sufficient quality to exhibit at our annual show. Given the frightening cost involved in layout building this is only reasonable. Otherwise, in terms of running stock, Rule One always applies. And it's a joy to see members running their collections of Triang stock alongside kit-built locos on the large test tracks.
So, think about what you want and how far you are prepared to go to achieve it. Don't let the age of others put you off and have a go. The worst that can happen is that you conclude that clubs are not for you.