HIDDEN away in Newport lies a railway network like no other in Gwent.

This is not your typical train station or modern rail journey: there are no electronic timetables, no tickets required, and no busy queues.

Rather, the Newport Engineering and Model Society is leading the way in Gwent for the construction of engineering models at its site at the Glebelands.

Model engineering is the construction of proportionally-scaled working representations of full-sized machines in miniature.

Originally used as a form of technical education, as far back as the 18th century, it has become a dedicated hobby with a cult following across the UK.

Founded in 1949, the Newport Engineering and Model Society currently has 70 members, with a varied age range between 14 and 88.

The wide-ranging interests shared by the club’s members include workshop machinery and tools; and making steam railways, road engines, stationary steam engines, hot air engines, clocks, and even working mechanical toys.

Clearly, this is a dedicated club, with a purpose-built club house and two tracks surrounding its five-acre site.

The two tracks – one 2,000 feet ground track and another 400 feet raised track – are fully operational and there is even an accompanying model boating pond and signal box.

Eddie Attree, 63, who is living in Risca, has been a member of the club for more than 30 years and said that the club has become a key part of his life.

He said: “We all have wide ranging interests- whether it’s clocks, model boats, 3D printers, electronics, internal combustion engines, or modern steam engines.

“But, it all comes down to the friendship with other members and talking to like-minded people with a similar interest.

“It’s a very social thing and we help each other whenever necessary. We’re all up for a laugh and it’s a great deal of fun.

“There are many walks of life here and we all try and help each other.”

The club meets up to three times per week, with a variety of activities on offer, including guest speakers, show and tell events, and miniature train journeys on the tracks themselves.

The show and tell events are particularly popular, with each member showcasing the progress of their latest creations on tabletops inside the clubhouse.

In order to obtain the plans and drawings for these models, whether it is a GWR51 locomotive prairie or a Burrell agricultural engine, the club contact various suppliers, including Reeves 2000 and Black Gate Engineering.

The blueprint of the model is then sent back to the club.

Tony Hall, 53, from Ynysddu, who has been a member of the club since 2003, said the lengthy chase of completing such complicated pieces makes it all worthwhile.

He said: “I was born with a spanner in my hand and have always had an interest in mechanics and electronics.

“It started off with clocks, then Meccano, and then motorbikes. It just snowballed from there, really.

“I’ve made several clocks and I’m in the middle of making a six-foot long Burrell agricultural engine, which has taken me eight years so far.

“It’s a bit like a donkey with the carrot and I know it’s going to take me another three or four years to complete it. It’s an infinite jigsaw puzzle.

“But, a major part of the fun is the chase of it and even if it’s just a piece of scrap, it will always find a place.”

The painstaking process to assemble a model can take years, as there are hundreds of miniature parts that have to be tracked down and put together.

Perhaps, then, it is little surprise to note that this intense passion has been taken into the workplace, with some of the club’s members having working backgrounds in engineering and electronics.

Les Novrill, 45, from Newport, is the club’s honorary secretary and has been a member for 37 years. Mr Novrill, now a civil engineer with the South Wales Trunk Road Agent, said that the club helped him realise that he wanted to go into the profession.

He said: “Being a part of the club helped me realise that I wanted to work with my hands and I went on to become an apprentice with the British Steel Corporation in Llanwern before my current job.

“We construct everything, including the buildings, ourselves and there’s been a lot of hard work in the club over the past 10 or 12 years.

“It’s really showing the commitment of our members and we often have more than one project on the go, which we call model engineer disease."

He added: “It really is a family club and my father, Les Sr, was an active member of the club and he was also a former secretary.

“My son, Ben, 17, is also heavily involved and I’ve been teaching him how to drive the steam engine in the last couple of years.”

Last year, the club attended a series of events, including the 100th anniversary of the breakout of the First World War, at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre; the Usk Show; and a showcase event at the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

The club's busiest time for events is during the summer and, armed with a portable track, children and adults across Gwent are continually fascinated by the club's displays.

Bob Foster, 68, from New Inn, said that despite having to pass stringent safety regulations, the opportunity to display the club’s creations at events makes it all worthwhile.

He said: “The typical time scale to build a locomotive is three to five years and it’s good to introduce something new every day.

“To build it can take forever and there’s a lot of skill and patience. It’s self-taught.

“When built, the locomotives then need to be put on a holding bay, steamed up with water and coal, and then put onto the track.

“They are either steam or electric operated and safety is primary importance. Regulation has become tighter and it’s more in line with the pressure system regulator in a workplace.

"But, it's fantastic to then get them out on the track and there's great personal satisfaction for us when people see it all. We're giving people enjoyment as much as we are enjoying it ourselves."