You know us for our model trains, plastic kits, diecasts and wargaming figures, but do you really know us? It's high time we share a bit about the people behind Chester Model Centre, starting with the gaffa, Paul Boyland.
1. When you did you first start hobbying?
As a child really. It was something I did with my Dad and I really can’t remember when it started. I reckon I was given a toy soldier as a baby. It’s probably not recommended to give infants small choke-able toys these days, but I survived anyway 😊
2. Can you remember the first model you ever built?
As a boy I was really all about soldiers. I loved painting them, getting all the details right, and then getting them all set up on the dining room table. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I started to get more interested in trains and actually building kits.
3. Do you have a favourite item in the shop?
That’s like being asked to choose a favourite child! I couldn’t really say, but I am particularly partial to some of the dioramas we’ve created in the past. There is something very satisfying about getting all the details and scene set up in a relatively small space.
4. What is your most asked question?
“Can you fix this?” We are known as a shop that stocks model trains and accessories but we also offer repairs and servicing which not many people realise. A lot of customers come in with a ‘bargain’ they found on eBay or at a car boot sale. Once they get it home they realise it needs some work and that’s where we come in. It’s one of the reasons why we think its so important that shops like ours exist. We really want to we encourage people to get off faceles websites, talk to independent shops and come see the treasure trove of new and second collections in store and have a chat to fellow hobbyists like us!
5. Do you have a most memorable moment in the shop?
I can remember the response from the public when we opened in Chester in 2012. Pete Waterman OBE was a great supporter from the onset and even did a little video for us when we opened our upper floor in 2014. Chester used to have Model Zone and Arts & Crafts (in St Michaels Precinct it was at the time) but both of them had closed. People were so happy to have a model shop back in the city, the response was a bit overwhelming, and the space we have on Chester Rows is so unique.
Retail has changed a lot over the years but we have found that people still want a space to come together over a shared hobby, have a chat and get to touch and feel items. The high street isn’t dying as some people like to say, it's just evolving and we are trying to evolve with it.
Last year’s Making Tracks exhibition was also a really special time for us. We were so happy to see so many families and that they stayed so long to really take in the models. It meant an awful lot to me, Pete [Waterman OBE] and the Railnuts and it gave us a lot of motivation to bring it back this year.
6. Last question, do you think its weird that Tarzan doesn’t have a beard?
Are you monkeying around? Ya, that is a bit weird. I never thought about it.
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