Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stamford show vandalism

I couldn't believe it when I fired up my computer yesterday to discover that 4 youths had broken into the Stamford Academy the Friday night before the model railway show, and smashed up everything in one of the halls. 

Police have caught them, but it won't repair the damage. Models that have taken decades to build are wrecked. Trade stands trashed.

Modellers and enthusiasts are rightly very upset. We know what this means to those who have been attacked in this way. Models aren't about money, they are about love and care and time. None of this can be replaced by an insurance company.

My plans to get some work done were thwarted by a need to keep RMweb calm. In situations like this, people get angry and on any forum, a mob mentality can develop with those who read the more excitable newspapers vying with each other to demand ever more extreme punishments. There's also the temptation to post information before it's verified. That sort of stuff can be left to Facebook.

To their credit, many members offered sympathy and support. We're going to try and sort out something more organised and official during the week and I expect this will be well supported.

All this is at odds with my real feelings which were fully on the side of the mob. Back in the 90s, I was on the receiving end of something similar when my stock box, camera bag and toolbox were stolen from the back of a van on the way back from a show.

Maybe I was lucky, my stuff was gone. OK, it included many locos I'd built, including my first whitemetal and etched brass locomotives, but at least it was gone. Here we have modellers forced to pick through the remains of models they have spent many, many hours over.

It might be over 2 decades since the theft of my models. I might have turned it to my advantage by using the experience to start a writing career. I'd still like to catch up with them and do some very, very horrible and painful things to the perpetrators. You don't forget the pain, or forgive. I know anger won't fix anything, but it's a natural reaction.

I'd like to end this post on a positive note, but for once I can't think of one. There isn't likely to be any good come out of this. I just hope those affected can eventually get over the trauma. My thoughts are with them.


Michael said...

Hi Phil, heart breaking to read. If anything official is organised please post on the blog, I for one would like to donate something towards the modelers affected. Not sure what else I can do to help them. So very sad.

Duncan Young said...

I feel for the mental well-being and morale of the dedicated elderly and possibly widowed or solo modellers whose lives focuses on labours of love like a whole layout or rolling stock, and for the sole traders whose presence at nice shows like this are an additional pleasure. An accident like a fire or flood can be hard to take but wanton vandalism like this can have serious or even terminal impact on the people listed above. I wonder what the young people doing this were hoping to achieve?

Paul B. said...

I do hope that whoever deals with the miscreants is an enthusiast or at least has some idea of the amount of love that goes into building a layout. I doubt that many people outside of the
hobby would truly understand how those affected are feeling right now.

Timill said...

There's a fundraiser:

As of writing this, it's gone over £9,000

James Finister said...

I'm afraid that as a one time Met police expert in youth crime I find some of the comments floating around are, at best, unhelpful and lacking in perspective. It was a dreadful thing to do but I doubt those involved have any understanding of the hurt and financial loss they have caused. What I can say is that in the past I've worked with young adults like this and they can learn to see the error of their ways. At the end of the day no one got hurt and the parties involved were apprehended. I can't think of a previous event like this being vandalised, and I suspect it will be many years before there is another.

Rob Nesbitt said...

From someone living on the other side of the planet, we started getting emails on Sunday morning (mid afternoon Sat UK time). We too feel much sympathy for the loss, not only of the models, but for the organising club's finances. I really hope this is a very isolated incident.