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An interview with Julian Evison, chair of The OO9 Society

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

I had the real pleasure of meeting Julian Evison at the Beckenham & West Wickham Model Rail show just last week. He was there exhibiting his most recent layout - Selborne.

Selborne model railway layout - by Julian Evison
Selborne (OO9 gauge) - Julian Evison

Julian is Chair of The OO9 Society - the world's largest society for small scale narrow gauge railway modelling - a position he's held for close to 5 years.

Dawn Quest interviews Julian Evison
At the Beckenham & West Wickham MRC show 2023 - with Julian Evison

This year is a very special year for the society - it's celebrating its 50th anniversary. In half a century it's grown from just a handful of members to now having over 2,200 worldwide.

Julian was at the show exhibiting Selborne - an absolutely charming layout which was one of my favourites. He kindly set aside a few minutes to have a chat.

MRQ: What was the inspiration for Selborne?

Julian: The layout is set in the area in which I live in the Hampshire Downs. There's a village called Selborne which is quite well known. It's the home of Gilbert White.

But there never was a railway there. So I've imagined what a railway would look like if it was built to connect to a nearby village about 20 miles away.

MRQ: So a real labour of love that's close to your heart? One thing I love is the attention to detail. How long did it take you to build?

Julian: It took about 2-3 years to build. It's part of a modular layout. I'm a member of the Farnham Club and so we can join it together with other OO9 layouts and create a much larger layout if we want to. Or I can just exhibit it by itself, as I'm doing here.

WATCH: Selborne at the Beckenham & West Wickham Model Rail Show 2023

MRQ: Tell me more about The OO9 Society.

Julian: The society now has around 2,200 members. The majority are in the UK, but we're spread all over the world. We have very active groups in the Netherlands and Germany. But we also have members in Australia, Canada and the US. We've formed as a group of people who enjoy narrow gauge modelling and who come together to share that enjoyment.

MRQ: What do you think it is about OO9 gauge that really captures people's imaginations?

Julian: There's a degree of freedom about it that's perhaps absent from other scales. The idea of having a completely imaginary railway, which was quite common in the 1950s in standard gauge modelling, still lives on in narrow gauge modelling. So people will create something that is entirely fictitious. At the other end of it, people will create absolutely beautiful reproductions of exactly precise places at precise times.

MRQ: It's a special year for The OO9 Society. How have you been marking the occasion?

Julian: Yes, it really is. It's our 50th anniversary. In that time we've grown from an initial 15 members to over 2,000 members around the world. We've had a number of events, culminating in a big show at Statfold Barn in Staffordshire. We had about 50 OO9 gauge layouts and in the family of scales that we cover. It was the most fabulous setting and I believe everyone had a really memorable time for all the right reasons. So that's been part of our anniversary and I've really enjoyed being part of it.

Find out more about The OO9 Society:

WATCH: Some of my favourite OO9 Gauge layouts so far

Do you have a model railway layout you'd like to be featured on the Model Railway Quest website? Send me your best photos along with a short description and I'll add your layout to my gallery page. I'll be choosing some of the best for a featured blog post. All you have to do is send your layout details to and write Gallery in the subject line.

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