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Man spends 8 years and £250k building UK’s biggest model railway in secret barn

A man who spent £250,000 has created Britain's biggest ever modern railway in his basement – and somehow kept the entire thing a secret from his long-term girlfriend.

And it only took 53-year-old Simon George eight years to do so.

The 200ft-long project was funded by selling shares in a supercar driving experience and was stored in an old mill which he rented.

The 61-metre-long replica of a train line, set in 1980s Yorkshire accurately depicts a 1.5-mile stretch of real track at Heaton Lodge Junction, Mirfield from 1983.

Mr George said: “It all started because I used to spend a lot of time at Heaton Lodge as a 12-year-old kid watching the trains go by.

“I wasn’t even into railway models – it could have easily been a park or a corner shop I had memories of.

“When we are children, we have our own special places, but for me I used to come here as a child and spend so much time watching the freight trains go past.”

The model was created using 500 old photos for reference, one of which included a younger version of himself watching a freight-train go by.

The attention to detail is astonishing, as it also includes fly-tipped sofas on the bank, and tiny Tesco carrier bags, with an authentic 1983 design on branches and railway sleepers along the stretch.

Now completed, it has gone on display in Yorkshire, and Mr George is hoping to tour it around the country, too, having spent the last six months hiding it from his new girlfriend for fear of her dumping him over it.

The couple are now engaged.

Railway enthusiast, and music mogul, Pete Waterman opened the exhibition, which can be found at Wakefield’s Market Hall until December 21.

Mr George added: “He has a big interest in model railways and got in touch.

“He has got a passion and wants to bring his passion to a more mainstream public, so he offered to help.

“He has had one on display at Chester Cathedral and has had 44,000 visitors come to see it, and it’s not as big as this one.

“If I could get half of that I’d be pleased.”

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