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Railway enthusiast wins 2020 Shed of the Year

Grant Morrell with his gigantic model train set built to look like the railways of the 1960s. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

LISA URBANI
[email protected]

Carterton has reason to be proud of miniature railway enthusiast Grant Morrell.

He has just won the 2020 Resene Shed of the Year competition run annually by NZ Gardener, and with it, some rather nice prizes.

Housed in his 72-metre garden shed, his model railway collection spreads out across 40m of the room and showcases a landscape of a railway line with model trains and cars, people and buildings, foliage and animals.

The whole layout depicts the New Zealand railways scene of the 50s and 60s, when trains were transitioning from steam to diesel.

For Morrell, his hobby is a labour of love – “with modelling you can’t measure time, you can’t rush it if you want a nice end result”.

Growing up in Auckland, Morrell said it all started when he visited his grandfather in the railway workshops where he worked, and he became fascinated with anything to do with trains.

As he grew up, he developed a love of model kitsets, and anything to do with cars, trucks, planes, or ships he found relaxing and enjoyable.

Later, during his 47-year navy career, he still found an occasional moment onboard during his long deployments at sea, to tinker with his models.

Now retired, he said he was “pretty ecstatic” to have won as he had never won anything before.

He and his wife Lyn run an Airbnb at their Stoneway Cottage in Carterton, and were encouraged to enter the competition by a visitor.

During the lockdown, Morrell has been putting the finishing touches to his navy wall, a collection of memorabilia from his many years as a seafarer, including some model replicas of ships that he served on.

Morrell is particularly interested in the New Zealand bush railway system from the 50s and 60s and is building a portable model to exhibit at train shows.

It will be the first public outing of this model and he said he still had 10 straight days of modelling before it would be ready.

When asked if he had any favourites, he said that his two brass locomotives and a crane that took him 360 hours to make by hand, would probably be on the list.

This was, however, nothing compared with the 18 months he spent working on a double-ender bush truck which is only 15cm long, but features 12-wheel drive and a chain drive that is 1mm by 1.5mm.

Not only is Morrell a model railway lover, but he also likes to restore cars. His vintage collection includes a ’67 mini, ’58 Austin van – used by his wife Lyn to deliver her Wildchix’s Muesli – and a ‘68 Ford Mustang – a rare find.

  • Grant Morrell features in the April edition of NZ Gardener.

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