The Matchstick Man strikes again

22nd June 2015 | posted in News

A 92-year-old man who spends his days making intricate models of his favourite trains – using matchsticks – has unveiled his latest labour of love.

George Day, who lives in Tempest Anderson House, Brinkburn Road, Darlington, took up his unusual hobby following a life-time of working on the railways.

Over the years he has created dozens of models of the steam locomotives he worked on and his newest model is of a Class A2 Tornado. This was a mainline steam locomotive that was built in Darlington.

Mr Day said: “It took me over a year to complete, but I am really pleased with the Tornado; it is certainly one of the best models I have made.

“I am now working on another train that was built in Darlington, the J27 locomotive, which was made famous in the programme Heartbeat.”

Mr Day spends at least a few hours each day creating his trains using mostly matchsticks. As he is a stickler for detail he also uses materials such as copper wire to represent the pipes that would be on the trains.

He added: “I worked on the trains I make, either as a cleaner, fireman or driver, so I know exactly how they should look and they need to be as authentic as possible or they wouldn’t be right in my eyes.

“It keeps me busy and my mind active which I think is important at my age. I certainly don’t like just sitting around doing nothing.”

Mr Day worked for the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) when he left school in Crook, aged 16. He was later transferred to work for British Rail at Bank Top Engine Shed in Darlington, where he worked for 25 years.

He started building replica locomotives from matchsticks when he and his wife Gwen moved to Tempest Anderson House - a sheltered housing scheme owned by Railway Housing Association.

Previously he had made much bigger replica engines using wood, but as he was no longer able to use the machinery needed to make these, he started crafting the replicas from matchsticks. He can use thousands of matchsticks to make just one train.

Mr Day jokes: “I think I am keeping the matchstick industry going given how many I use.”

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