Many of Northampton’s lost landmark buildings have been recreated in amazing detail by a model railway enthusiast.
(Pictures by Dave Ikin)
The old Victorian Emporium arcade replaced by the Grosvenor Centre and many other scenes from the town centre, such as the old station are part of over 20 years of miniature building work by Clive Hardwick.
Former accountant Clive’s creations are so good that Steffan’s Jewellers staged an exhibition of his work which has expanded far beyond the limits of his model railway layout.
Clive said: “I started in the 90s after I got a bit of a lay-off from work. I was a bit bored and that’s how we sort of started but I know on average each piece model probably takes me about three months.
“Sometimes I do a couple a year sometimes I don’t do anything in that year, but the collection has grown really constantly ever since about 1997.
“It’s always been just a sort of railway modelling hobby that’s kind of gone out on a particular architectural limb.
“And you know, I’m Northampton born and bred and I started to make a few buildings and stuff and I thought what’s the point making stuff that other people can make?
“Why wouldn’t I do things from my hometown? We’ve got some nice buildings particularly.
“We’ve got some buildings that we no longer have and I remembered from my 1960s childhood. So most of the models are based on how they looked in the 60s.”
Clive spent a long time modelling with only his family and friends appreciating his work but Facebook eventually exposed him to a wider audience.
The models are fragile and difficult to transport, however, so exhibitions are few and far between. Steffan’s was an ideal location with cabinets and displays designed for valuable items.
You can see some of Clive’s work at Delapre Abbey, where he created a model of Delapre itself.
He was invited to make it but thought at first it would be too complicated to get right.
“I thought it would be impossible to do because I’d need to be crawling all over it with a tape measure and stuff,” said Clive.
“So I said look, I’m going to have to decline your offer even though it would be really interesting do but then they talked about the planned refurbishment and that needed properly executed potential plans to do that.
“Luckily the drawings had been done by professional architects a year or so before and all I needed to do was get copies of those scale them to the right scale and I’d got my plans already.
“That tipped the balance and made me do it, it still took me nine months to do it. It’s a real complicated model.
“But you know with that with those plans I could sort of get on with it straight away. Typically though. I have to draw the plans myself.
“It’s always from current photographs or where buildings no longer exist I have to use old photographs and then you you kind of estimate in sizes and you can look for maps and things and all sorts of little evidence that you could build a picture of the building that is no longer there.
“I mean that is part of the fun actually of it and even though it’s fairly recent history for me it’s still history.
“If the building still exists I can never go past the building without feeling a bit of an affection towards it and a bit of a, you know, a closeness and knowing mentally I’ve gone over every inch of that building and measured it and built it and painted it.”
Here is a clip of Clive talking about his creations: