Style & ShowbizShowbiz

Roger Daltrey to open model railway centre

Roger Daltrey to open model railway centre

Roger Daltrey and Jools Holland are to open the world's largest model railway exhibition centre in Kent.

The Who rocker and the 58-year-old musician-and-presenter are part of a group of enthusiasts behind the £6.2 million Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre (Aimrec), which was granted planning permission by Ashford council last week.

Roger and fellow model railway fan Cliff Parsons came up with the proposal for the centre three years ago after a pub discussion of

how appalling it was of how little today's children know about Britain's proud rail heritage.

The 2.5-acre facility will display up to 30 enormous model railway layouts, many of them worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, with an unnamed member of the royal family offering one layout.

Visitors will download an app to their phone or tablet that will allow them to control the model railway layouts; immersive computer graphics will whisk them back in time and demonstrate how railways "transformed everything" from the "post and newspapers to horse racing and funfairs".

In an interview with The Independent newspaper, Cliff said: "Everything in there will work and be interactive. It won't be stuff in glass cases. "You'd be surprised how many people are into model railways. They're works of art; some of them are exhibition pieces that have taken more than 30 years to make."

As well as Roger, Jools and Cliff, pop producer Pete Waterman and businessman Sir william McAlpine are also involved with the centre, which is hoping to open in 2018.

And Cliff has also had discussions with Rod Stewart about getting involved in the venture, and also hopes to speak with another model railway enthusiast, Phil Collins.

Hamburg's Miniatur Wunderland, currently the world's largest model-railway attraction, pulls in 1.2 million visitors a year.

But the Aimrec is on track to rival those numbers - it's location is only 37 minutes from London and within easy reach of Europe's 10 million modellers.