History of The Adelaide Model Railroaders

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Bridges on the AMR's layout at Mt Lofty.jpg
Bridges on the AMR's layout at Mt Lofty

One aisle out of the four in the Club's layout at Islington
One aisle out of the four
in the Club's layout at Islington

Fixing up the workshop area 01.jpg
Fixing up the workshop area
This used to be the mens toilets.

Doing some of the messy bits of preperation.jpg
Doing some of the messy
bits of preperation.

Jollifee Jump Bridges under construction 01
Jollifee Jump Bridges
under construction 01

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The Adelaide Model Railroaders is the oldest model railway club in South Australia.

The AMR was founded in Adelaide in 1948 and soon moved into the old World War II “Cheer up hut” at the Adelaide railway station. The club set up a straight length of steel O gauge track on which to run trains. The AMR was not long at the “cheer up hut” which was eventually demolished. The clubs’ next premises was in the disused South Australian Railways photography van which was parked in a disused siding at the North Adelaide railway station.

Eventually the disused siding was taken up and the AMR began a lengthy period of meeting in various members homes. During this period, the AMR constructed portable layouts which were exhibited at fairs, school fetes, etc. Around 1967 the AMR had the opportunity to lease space in the Mt Lofty railway station at Stirling in the Adelaide hills. At this time the AMR incorporated and changed its name to the “Adelaide Model Railway Society Inc.” The then AMRS built a large HO scale layout using the then current portable layout as a base. This layout used all of what was the former station masters’ residence. Plans were in hand and bench work erected to expand into the waiting room when in about 1990 the railways discontinued the passenger service to Bridgewater. The AMRS was then asked to leave in 1993 and the station became a Bed and Breakfast.

As an alternative the railways offered the AMRS a much larger space in the railway workshops at Islington. The AMRS was very happy to take up that space in the centrally located Islington railway workshops and began working on a huge 80’ X 40’ (24.4 X 12.2 metres) HO scale layout. For control of trains on the new layout the AMRS decided to use command control and was the first club in SA to use any form of command control. The AMRS chose to use Infocom command control an Australian designed and manufactured system that gave better speed control than the DCC systems available at that time. The mainline of layout, called the “Southern Central Railroad”, was completed early 2000 and a “Golden Spike” ceremony was held in April that year. DCC systems quickly improved during the 1990s. The AMRS decided to evaluate the NCE DCC system with the idea of changing to Digital Command Control. That never happened at Islington because the newly privatised railways decided to sell the building that the AMRS was leasing. The building was eventually demolished and today a Bunnings warehouse stands in its place.

Once again in 2002 the AMRS moved seamlessly into the premises it now occupies. It took two years to make the new premises suitable for a large HO scale model railway. The change of location brought on another change of name for the club, with the club reverting to the original name, Adelaide Model Railroaders, but in incorporated form so now the club’s full name is Adelaide Model Railroaders Incorporated. When the AMR began erecting the latest version of the Southern Central Railroad NCE DCC was used. While smaller than the SCR at Islington the latest version is still a large HO scale layout. The SCR was built in stages. In 2016 when the second stage was completed members wanted radio throttles. Since the AMR had installed JMRI on its computer for changing CVs in decoders it was decided to add Wi-Fi so that members could run their trains using WiThrottle and Engine Driver Apps on their mobile phones. This innovation made running trains on the SCR simpler and more fun. Of course, trains can still be run using the tethered NCE throttles as well. Two more stages have been completed and finally the mainline was completed in 2020 and the club now is able to have formal operating sessions as well as informal running sessions.
Installation of full signalling is in progress on the layout which now features one of the most prototypically operating level crossings on any model railway.

The AMR has always been able to adjust to changing circumstances. Even though the club’s layout is historical in nature the AMR is always keen to embrace the latest in model railway technology which has provided members with an enjoyable and satisfying layout to operate. With this kind of attitude, the AMR has a bright future. In 2021 AMR became a 100% NMRA club.

Even though member numbers have been consistent over the years there is still room for new members to enjoy model railroading

AMR layout at Mt Lofty
AMR layout at Mt Lofty

The AMR's layout at Islington
The AMR's layout at Islington

Fixing up the workshop area 02.jpg
Fixing up the workshop area This used to be the mens toilets.

Cutting the doorway 2015
Cutting the doorway 2015

SCR at AMRE 2023 27
SCR at AMRE 2023 27