FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Model railway marvels in Hamburg

Posted in Germany, Hamburg by folkestonejack on December 3, 2018

There are two record-breaking model railways in Hamburg, but the chances are that you will only have heard of one of these – Miniatur Wunderland. It is absolutely stunning and entirely deserving of all the publicity it gets, but it is also well worth making the effort to see the other model railway in the city which is much older and ground breaking in a different way. It could also be your last opportunity to see it as it was originally intended…

Miniatur Wunderland

Miniatur Wunderland is the largest Model Railway in the World. It is also Hamburg‘s top tourist attraction drawing 1.2 million visitors every year. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of model railways (not sure why, as I loved my model railway when I was a child and it clearly led to my interest in international railways) but this place had me completely engrossed for three hours.

The massive layout, split over two levels, currently features over 15,000m of track with 1,040 locomotives and more than 10,000 rail cars. However, it is the incredible attention to detail, sheer inventiveness and the playful sense of humour that has gone in to building the world that surrounds all of this that lifts this attraction to another level. On top of that, they have the largest working model airport in the world too!

I could say alot more about this place, but I think it is pretty hard to capture in words or numbers. I’ll let their own new video explain just what makes this place so amazing…

The only disappointment at the end of our three day stay was that no giant flap in the sky opened up when we took off from Hamburg!

Modelleisenbahn Hamburg in the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte

One of the star exhibits in the Museum of Hamburg’s History is an impressive model railway layout created by MEHEV, the oldest model railway club in Germany (established 1931). The layout is the largest Gauge 1 (1:32 scale) model railway in Europe, which was started in the attic of the museum in 1947. The current management are redesigning the museum and have not ruled out the possibility of forcing the downsizing of the 69 year old model railway to fit it into a smaller room.

The club recommends that visitors take the opportunity to see the railway in its original home while it is still in operation. It certainly seemed to be a message that the visitors to the museum had enthusiastically taken up on the day we visited, crowding the room to watch a demonstration.

The Hamburg-Harburg layout features a major station, docks and delightful background details such as a man playing a fiddle while his dog holds an upturned hat in its mouth for donations. Overseeing all of this action is a wonderful control room styled like a signal box. In short, it was a pleasure to see it running. I just hope this piece of the city’s history can be preserved in its original form to bring joy to visitors long into the future.

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