NATIONAL HERITAGE: Scout for ‘home’ to host toy train rail model – how about the museum at Kurseong, where it all began ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 24: The UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society is on the lookout for a “good home” to preserve a miniature model of the toy train track built by Gert Jensen, a former DHR enthusiast who passed away in July.
According to DHRS chairperson David Barrie, the model built with extraordinary detail even featured in the Continental Modeler — an international magazine which provides guidance and shows models of different railways in the world — back in 2003.
“Gert was very interested in the DHR and he had been a member of the DHRS for some time. After his demise, Gert’s daughter Kimberly is keen that the model should be preserved and would like it to go to a good home. I am assisting in this as I can. I agree it is so wonderful and one man’s dream, it must be cared for,” Barrie wrote in an e-mail to The Telegraph.
An architect by profession from Shropshire County in the UK, Gert got hooked to the little Indian hill railway when he visited a Steam Gala of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway which had a DHRS stall.
During a weeklong trip to Darjeeling in February 2000, Gert took photos, made sketches and noted important features of the toy train as part of a primary research. He went through publications on the DHR and the photographs of the hill railway taken in the past too.
“Gert came with me on one of our tours so he was able to get a first hand experience, but of course he was able to consult a number of books primarily the work of Terry Martin, notable Halfway to Heaven, and publications by the DHRS,” wrote Barrie.
The U-shaped DHR layout is currently fixed to the wall of Gert’s double garage and incorporates four stations —Siliguri Town, Sukna, Kurseong and Darjeeling. Although the line has three loops and six ‘Z’ reverses (features that assist the toy train to make the uphill climb), Gert has replicated one ‘Z’ and two loops in the 17-metre layout.
“The line starts from Siliguri Town, across the plains to Sukna, and then rising uphill encounters a ‘Z’ reverse, the Agony Point loop, then into Tindharia works, and by using the balloon loop that actually exists within the works it changes direction. It now runs from Paglajhora, Kurseong, on up, and into Darjeeling,” the DHRS chairman wrote. The materials used for construction were card boards, plastic, wood and tin.
“The track runs on baseboards secured to the wall. It even protrudes into the garage in places by several feet, where a loop or a station was constructed. To my knowledge it was all his own work. I know it took him a couple of years to build it but the detail is extraordinary,” said Barrie.
The station buildings are exactly the way they looked in 1960s. Gert has even managed to capture the essence of life as it exists on the fringes of the tracks.
The half-timbered Sukna station, bathers at the Mahanadi river drying sarees, waterfall, an elephant in the jungles of Sukna and the spiralling Agony Point surrounded by tea gardens made of green coloured doormats are the views on the uphill climb in the layout. A landslide after Tindharia workshop and men working to restore the tracks, too, has been depicted as the seasonal problem of the hill railway.