Builder of 'Britain's biggest model railway' kept it secret from his girlfriend

·4 min read
Simon George and
Simon George and "Britain's biggest model railway". (SWNS)

A train-mad businessman who splashed £250,000 on 'Britain's biggest model railway' has spent the last six months hiding it from his girlfriend.

Simon George, 53, hid the 200ft-long project from his new partner as he feared she would dump him if she discovered his 'dull' hobby.

Simon, who funded the project by selling his share in a supercar driving experience company, told his girlfriend Marie he was renting part of an old mill to store and sell wine.

Instead, he was in the process of creating an incredible 61-metre long replica of a train line, set in 1980s Yorkshire, which he remembered from his childhood.

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Simon built the model the basement of a disued factory in Wakefield. (SWNS)
Simon built the model in the basement of a disused factory in Wakefield. (SWNS)
Simon has been working on the superstructure for more than eight years. (SWNS)
Simon has been working on the superstructure for more than eight years. (SWNS)
"Britain's biggest model railway" built by Simon George. (SWNS)
"Britain's biggest model railway" built by Simon George. (SWNS)

Simon was rumbled six months into his relationship when Marie visited the mill and discovered there was no wine in the basement.

But despite his belief that being a wine merchant sounded “sexier than building a model railway", the couple are now engaged to be married.

Simon said: "I met Marie about two years ago and when we started dating, I led her to believe I was a wine merchant.

"It sounded sexier than saying I was building a model railway, which usually sends women running.

"She came down to the cellar one day and said: 'Where's all the wine?'

"I told her the truth and she was like 'ok'. But she has an art degree so she appreciated the level of detail and work that went into it. We're now engaged."

The railway set caused a stir among enthusiasts. (SWNS)
The railway set caused a stir among enthusiasts. (SWNS)
The model railway is 192 ft in length. (SWNS)
The model railway is 192 ft in length. (SWNS)
Simon keeps the stunning scale model in a below-level basement. (SWNS)
Simon keeps the stunning scale model in a below-level basement. (SWNS)

Simon's colossal train set accurately depicts a 1.5-mile stretch of real track at Heaton Lodge Junction, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, from 1983.

It took him eight years to painstakingly build it.

He said he set out to create the set because he was nostalgic for his childhood when he watched locomotives passing through the busy stretch of line.

Simon added: “It all started because I used to spend a lot of time at Heaton Lodge as a 12-year-old kid watching the trains go by.

"It depicts the 1980s as it used to be with lots of coal trains before the miners' strikes.

"When we're children we have our own special places, but for me I used to come here as a child and spend so much time watching the freight trains go past."

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Simon spent time as a child watching the trains go by in Yorkshire. (SWNS)
Simon spent time as a child watching the trains go by in Yorkshire. (SWNS)
The colossal train set accurately depicts a 1.5-mile stretch of real track at Heaton Lodge. (SWNS)
The colossal train set accurately depicts a 1.5-mile stretch of real track at Heaton Lodge. (SWNS)
Simon hid his 200ft-long project from his new partner. (SWNS)
Simon hid his 200ft-long project from his new partner. (SWNS)

To get the detail just right, Simon collected around 500 photos of the track area from 1983, so he could re-create every bush, hedgerow and patch of grass.

He even found one photo of him as a youngster leaning over a fence watching a freight train pass through, which he has recreated on the model.

There are also fly-tipped sofas on the bank while tiny Tesco carrier bags, with an authentic 1983 design can be found snagged on branches and railway sleepers along the stretch.

The massive model railway has now gone on display in Yorkshire and he hopes to tour it around the country next year.

Music mogul and model railway enthusiast Pete Waterman agreed to open his train track to the public.

The railway is on display at Wakefield’s Market Hall until 21 December.

Watch: Railway workers hang from overhead cables to get the job done

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