Village News

The railroad to retirement

29 September 2023

Hugh Keal and his steam train railway

Looking to downsize from their Titirangi home of 30 years, Hugh Keal had one question when he and wife Jenny first visited Crestwood Village as potential residents– “would I be allowed to build a garden railway?” The answer was yes! Now, Hugh’s garden railway is a well-known and loved feature at the village.

“It had always been a dream of mine to build a garden railway, after seeing them in magazines. Having built one at our Titirangi family home, I’m thrilled to be able to have one here at Crestwood and also that I can share it with the other residents and visitors”, says Hugh.

Growing up in South Africa, his fascination with trains and steam locomotives started from a young age.

“I lived in the countryside and seeing the mainline train regularly zoom past really piqued my interest”, says Hugh.

Coupled with a lifetime of career engineering, Hugh’s passion for building model railways has extended far beyond the standard set up, with the addition of a 3D printer.

“The printer was a birthday gift during the first COVID lockdown. The enforced time indoors gave me plenty of opportunity to play around with the device and get the hang of it.”

“Since then, I’ve 3D printed carriages, fencing, and even miniature train conductor figures to bring my garden railway to life.”

Mixing the old-world equipment with the new 3D models allows Hugh to really personalise the design.

“I’ll spend hours tinkering, adjusting, and fine tuning the trains. Then, after what is sometimes months of fastidious work, getting them running seamlessly on the track is incredibly satisfying.”

Although Hugh has both electric and steam trains in his wider collection, he prefers to run the steam trains on the Crestwood garden railway.

“They’re more nostalgic. Plus, the steam trains are all named after our grandchildren. One’s also named after my wife, Jenny, with her permission of course!”

Hugh's steam train in action on the railway

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