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The Society was founded in 1944 and has seen a number of significant milestones in the intervening years:

The Early Years 1944 - 1951
It can be appreciated to anyone with knowledge of the industrial centres of the UK, that in Belfast and its surrounding towns and villages, amongst the aircraft, shipbuilding, textile and agricultural industries,it was not hard to find skilled engineers. Engineers seem destined to build models, and so despite the ravages of World War 2, the society was founded in 1944 by a group of dedicated model enthusiasts who saw the need for an organisation to encourage the skills of model engineering and its associated crafts in the home workshop (a belief which has remained the motto of the society to the present day).

1944
Following its inception and as the membership grew, organisation was necessary and officials and a committee were elected. The first great step was the issue of a monthly circular to all society members, giving details of the various meetings and news about members, models etc. The society held a free public show in the C.I.Y.M.S. in Donegall Square East in Belfast, which surpassed the wildest dreams of the members. For the first few hours that the show was open, the numbers of visitors overwhelmed the space, and it was with some difficulty that it was brought to a close.

1945 - 1947
With a further change of officials the society, now the leading society in the public eye, launched the first public Model Engineers' Exhibition to be held in Belfast. This was held in St. Mary's Minor Hall. It was the first occasion that a 3½" gauge live steam model locomotive had hauled public passengers in Belfast. The locomotive in question, "Maisie" was built by Mr Dennis Steele from Belfast and ran the whole day of the show without a hitch. The exhibits were many and varied, and up to a standard comparable with much older societies in mainland Britain. The future of model engineering in Northern Ireland was assured, not only as a hobby but also as an instructive pastime. As a premiere event, the BBC took recordings during this show for later broadcast. The way was now prepared and the certainty of favourable public reception proved for further exhibitions of more ambitious proportions.

1948 -1949
A further change of officials for 1948 opened up a very successful year of work, lectures, demonstrations and visits. During this year the foundations were laid for the largest exhibition of its kind to be held in Belfast in 1949. The exhibition was held in May, for one week, in the Wellington Hall and proved successful from the start.The show included other Belfast allied model societies, technical and secondary schools, all exhibiting models and examples of work according to their varied interests. Local traders displayed engineering equipment which covered the wide field from tools suitable for model engineering to full sized production. Another "Maisie" locomotive, built by Mr James Dempster of Newtownards, carried passengers along a portable track for the whole week without a hitch. Great interest was shown by the visiting public to models supplied by the firms Harland & Wolff Ltd (shipbuilders) and Short Bros. & Harland Ltd (aircraft builders), - being models of marine & aeronautical engines respectively. The show was closed to the public each morning to enable hundreds of schoolchildren organised by Dr. Stewart Hawnt, Director of Education, to visit the exhibition.

1950 - 1951
During 1950 plans were laid hopefully to repeat the success of the 1949 exhibition in 1951 also coinciding with the Festival of Britain. The exhibition was held in May 1951, for one week, again in the Wellington Hall which had proved so successful previously. The show again included other Belfast allied model societies, technical and secondary schools and local traders. The exhibition was open each day from 12.30 - 10.00pm. A 55 page illustrated catalogue was published for the exhibition. The "Maisie" locomotive, built by Mr James Dempster of Newtownards, once again carried passengers along a 60' steel portable track for the whole week without a hitch.
The exhibition proved to be a great success, the size of which the society has never repeated to date ....

Whilst one group of members worked on plans for the exhibition another worked on plans for a permanent miniature railway track site for the society. The plan grew from paper to reality in 1951 with permission from the Belfast Water Commissioners to build a track in the Antrim Road Waterworks, Belfast.

The Waterworks Track 1952 -1970
Society meetings were held on a monthly basis, and during the summer months, organised outings to places of engineering interest took place. The track in the Antrim Road Waterworks, Belfast was completed in 1952. The track was an oval, serviced by a traverser from the steaming bays, construction was of concrete cast beams on pylons, with rails on wooden sleepers in gauges 2½", 3½" & 5". The new track saw an increase in the number of members and also of the number of locomotives under construction. Running was on Saturday afternoons and public holidays and the track enjoyed the attention of the public for whom rides were provided on passenger trucks. The track was in use up to 1969/1970 when a combination of the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, the changing demography of the area, and the advent of the young hooligan resulted in the members arriving on numerous occasions to find the track and clubhouse vandalised. For the members of the society the sad decision was therefore made in 1970 to relocate the track. An approach was made through one of the members in contact with the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra, and a suitable site was found in the former victorian walled kitchen garden of "Dalchoolin House" on the southern shores of Belfast Lough. The house was still standing although disused, and would eventually be demolished to be replaced in 1976 by a newly erected building which became the (now lower) transport gallery of the museum.

Cultra - Beginning Again 1973 - 1979
The bent and vandalised track, fittings and fixtures were removed to Cultra in 1970 and work began to reinstate an oval of track within the confines of the walled garden, serviced by a traverser from the steaming bays. This track served the society well for some years, however with the ever increasing number of locomotive models being constructed and running, and the opening of the museum transport complex adjacent to our site, in 1976 the Society decided that an extension of the track was necessary

Work started in earnest in the summer of 1976 and continued every weekend, summer and winter, rain or shine for three years. The "construction squad" - known within the society as the "Heavy Squad", were ably led by Billy Greer, who was surveyor, foreman, and inspector and was affectionately referred to as the "gaffer". Billy pushed and prodded the members when they flagged and checked any bursts of over activity which threatened the quality of work. The construction of the extension was in a similar method to that of the original, and now reinstated waterworks track, using 5' cast concrete beams supported on cast concrete pylons. However, for the extension it required some additional 340 beams and pylons. Initially a contractor was sought to manfacture the concrete items and the members concentrated on the earthworks. Alas after production of a few the contractor considered the job too small and withdrew, literally stopping the society in its' tracks!! An emergency meeting agreed to make the moulds and cast the concrete items ourselves. A kind member loaned the society the only piece of machinery used on this part of the project - a cement mixer.

Whilst mechanical diggers, bulldozers etc. are useful, they were non existant, so the spade, pick, and shovel came into their own - a glimpse of the irish navvy from the early days of the railways........the only trouble being, that rather than being navvies the "Heavy Squad" was made up of craftsmen, shopkeepers, college and university lecturers and businessmen of all descriptions, in fact everything but a navvy!!

All model engineering societies are aware of the back breaking work involved in the earthworks to build a railway extension, and many a Saturday night was spent in agony, such things as tapping 8BA holes were left alone until the hard work was completed. The beams and pylons were cast (three) each Saturday and removed from the moulds the following Saturday, the moulds were then cleaned, re-oiled and filled. The beams were then ready for laying on the third Saturday. This gave progress of three 5' beams put into position each week - 340 beams and pylons were cast in total. The remaining items to make up the 1700' running length of the track came from the earlier track laid in 1970 and from remainants from the 1952 Waterworks track. The rails are aluminium and accomodate both 3½" & 5" gauges. The track was complete, along with a swing bridge, six steaming bays, tunnels and watering points. The marvellous day arrived on 9th June 1979 when Sir Myles Humphries, Chairman of Northern Ireland Railways, accompanied by his Lady wife and the MESNI Chairman Sam Topping, broke the tape to officially open the track extension - appropriately the first train was hauled by "the Gaffer" Billy Greer's 5" gauge Simplex locomotive.

The track opening received acclaim by appearing as the cover picture in Engineering in Miniature Volume 1 No.10 in February 1980 with an accompanying article, in which Stanley Lutton is seen driving his 5" gauge "Springbok" locomotive with a carriage of happy children through one of the tunnels on opening day.