THE Fremantle and Districts Model Railway Association is looking for a new home after being losing its lease at the Fremantle Prison.
The association has been meeting in the prison’s old blacksmith’s shop for 12 years, but as one of the prison’s oldest buildings it’s in hot demand for tours and is about to be renovated via an $80,000 federal grant. Train enthusiast and association secretary Graeme Campbell says they have to be out by September 4.
Mr Campbell says to pay the rent, the association takes its meticulously crafted railways, complete with landscapes and mini towns, to shopping centres where they’re a hit with kids. They have three layouts, one of which is nine metres long, and another that took them 10 years to build.
It’s not the first time they’ve had to move, as originally they were based in the Fremantle Train Station, but the rent became too high to cope with.
Mr Campbell says they need enough room to be able to stack their nine tables.
The prison works will include a replacement roof and repairs to roof plumbing and joinery, federal environment minister Greg Hunt said.
“This funding will preserve and enhance visitor experience at the site, which is recognised for its Outstanding Universal Value by UNESCO”.
Built in 1852, the workshop was the first building constructed by convicts.
by OTTOLINE SPEARMAN