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Home Building /08.06.23

All aboard: Clarendon Homes unique rail journey into Southern Highlands history

All aboard: Clarendon Homes unique rail journey into Southern Highlands history

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Visitors who venture to the luxurious loft of Clarendon Homes new display home in the Southern Highlands are in for a great surprise. Instead of the usual lounges and TV, you’ll discover an exquisitely detailed 10.4sq m custom-built working model railway that pays homage to the region’s history.

A grand unveiling befitting of a bygone era was held on 6 June to celebrate the opening of the model railway for public viewing at “The Bowral” display home in Braemar, near Mittagong.

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The model was expertly brought to life by the Guildford Model Railway Group (GMRG). The team of four GMRG members spent 20 months designing and constructing the dual-track model, which runs two trains simultaneously and includes notable local landmarks of the mid-20th century.

For Martin Campbell, son of Clarendon Homes founder Peter Campbell, senior manager at Clarendon and avid model-maker, inspiration to create a model-railway came partly from the building site itself. The acreage-style “Bowral” display home is built on the former site of the All Aboard Model Railway, one of Australia’s largest model railway shops.

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Campbell was also inspired by his mentor Roger Porter, an expert model train builder and designer who designed the XPT train nose before joining Clarendon Homes as one of the first employees in the late 1970s. Porter, now retired, mentored many of Clarendon’s second generation of designers, draftsmen and builders including David Sylvester who project managed the “Bowral” display build.

The 1:87 scale rail model includes Mittagong station, Mittagong Maltings and the Picton viaduct, all recreated as they were in the 1950s. A war memorial is included as a homage to Robert “Percy” Percival Sykes who was a steam locomotive driver in the area before his death on the Western Front in World War I. He is also the great uncle of Clarendon founder Peter Campbell.

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Guildford Model Railway Group added their own surprise element which was kept secret until installation day. Standing before the memorial, are miniature figures of Martin Campbell and his wife Melanie with their 1955 vintage MG.

As experienced model-makers (this is their sixth exhibition-style piece to date), Guildford Model Railway Group, took great care to maintain a sense of historical accuracy. They visited key sites in the region, collecting information including current and historical photographs and plans. Then, using a variety of modelling and construction techniques ranging from 3D printing to hand carving, they replicated the buildings featured in the model.

The locomotives and train cars were ready-to-run models which were aged with air brushes and paints to give an authentic feel. Even the figurines throughout the sprawling landscape have been modelled with historically accurate clothing.

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The Braemar display home is an apt choice to house the model railway: the “luxe country” Bowral design is by Peter Campbell so it holds a special place in the Clarendon collection. Perfect for acreage lots, it features an expansive layout including a versatile and light-filled loft space that can be used as an office, studio, hobby space, home gym – or even a working model railway. “We want the Southern Highlands model train layout to inspire people to play with imaginative uses for the spacious, light-filled Bowral loft,” said Martin Campbell.

Visit the Bowral 52 display home at 68-72 Old Hume Highway, Braemar, NSW 2575. Open for viewing 10am to 5pm every day; call 02 8850 9165 or Visit our website

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Building a Bygone Model Railway

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