Monday, 19 October 2009

My First Foray into Blogging

This is a big step for me: as someone who doesn't really 'do' technology, this is George Dent boldly stepping into the 21st Century. Considering I live a fairly old-fashioned existence (no TV and very few other mod-cons) the idea of being out in cyber-space has got me and my cat Maude in a bit of a spin.

Anyway, as this is a model-maker's diary, I shall endeavour to keep people updated with what's on my workbench - just starting, or just finishing, or simply giving-up with - as well as any other model railway tittle-tattle.

A few words about who I am:
I work for Model Rail magazine, one of the best modelling magazines around (I know I'm biased, but it's true!), where I'm the model-maker in residence, so to speak. I try and demonstrate techniques, materials and projects in clear 'how to' guides, with the emphasis on the visual, rather than simply writing-up what I did and hoping readers can follow that.

Working in this way, you can see the projects through from start to finish and get a better idea of what's involved. This, in my humble opinion is what set Model Rail apart from other magazines when it was launched in the 1990s with Chris Leigh at the helm.

I also produce modelling books for the Crowood Press, the first two of which cover detailng r-t-r locomotives in OO gauge, while future projects will deal with other aspects of railway modelling. I've been modelling non-stop since I was a wee lad. Without wanting to sound too disadvantaged, I was encouraged to make most of my own toys as a child from recycled materials, so that was a good grounding in developing practical skills!

My first forays into modelling consisted of scratchbuilding spacecraft inspired by the Star Wars and Battlestar Gallactica movies. These were built from cereal boxes, detergent bottles and scrap plastic sprue from my Dad's military model kits. Working in the paint shop at the local Ford car plant, Dad used to sneak my models into the factory and place them between the Escorts and Orions for the robots to cover them in a lovely coat of metallic paint.

I come from Tuebrook in Liverpool (just a short walk from Anfield stadium for those who don't know) although we moved to Woollyback Land in the 1980s. A small village near Warrington was about as different from inner city Liverpool as you could get. I then spent the rest of my chilhood waiting to be old enough to move back! Which I did when I married and settled in Wavertree, near the site of Edge Hill shed. It was a wrench to leave when I got a job at the National Railway Museum in York as a conservator, initially working with all sorts of things, including locos & stock, using my training at Liverpool Museums and Galleries to good effect. Having discovered my modelling habits, more and more smaller objects came my way for restoration.

Although leaving the NRM for pastures new, I stumbled across an ad in Model Rail asking for a modelmaker. My wife convinced me to apply, I pootled over to Peterborough in my rattly old Micra for an interview and, five years later, I'm still there. 

Anyway, if I haven't bored you...

As of today, I've just finished building a 'OO' kit of an LNER 'J21' 0-6-0, using a Dave Alexander kit and it's scooting around my test track as I write this. Hopefully, the model is destined for the collection of a Model Rail reader as we're having an auction to raise money to get the preserved 'J21' back on the rails.


  1. Just read through your entire blog! I'm on paternity leave and both my wife and new son are asleep! An ideal oppontunity to have a quick look - very pleased I followed the link at the end of your piece on Bachmann Class 47s in the latest ModelRail!

    It's an excellent read, just hope you keep up with the frequency of updates!

    Take care


  2. THanks for the complimentery comments! Hope you get some sleep too with a new addition - a future rail buff, perhaps??!!

  3. It was my pleasure!

    And as for Thomas as long as he chooses at least railways or cricket for an interest, I'll be very happy!!! Both his dad and grandad love both so there's a good chance!