Crewe Station was a couple of match boxes, painted and superglued to the chipboard by our hot water tank. Birmingham New Street was a collection of scuffed plastic boxes that once housed screws and drill bits, painted battleship grey. Liverpool Lime Street was over towards the stack of boxes housing the stuff my Auntie San had never collected after one of her many house-moves.
I wasn’t meant to, but I’d nose through and stare in bafflement at black patent beetle-crushers, a magazine rack carved to appear like a camel and an album by Shag Connor and the Carrot Crunchers. Sometimes these unwanted mementoes of a life moving overseas with the RAF would tumble and cause a landslide onto the West Coast Mainline. You needed quite the imagination to play trains in our attic.
I’d tried painting that complex British Railways logo onto the chipboard with my Humbrol aircraft paint, but I’d struggled with the angles and it looked uncomfortably close to a swastika. I cut pieces of an old bath sponge and soaked them in green paint, before sticking them on lolly sticks to make trees and shrubs.
For the passengers I had some surplus commandos and guardsmen from my fort in the garden. A lone Apache too. There was a level crossing with a Pontiac Firebird and a black Trans Am waiting patiently for the 4.32 to Macclesfield to pass through.
The hardest part was not forgetting where the chipboard Dad had tacked to the loft beams ended. Beyond this there was only dust-choked fibreglass and plasterboard. Once Dad missed a beam and his foot went straight through so anyone on our landing would’ve thought they were in an episode of Terry and June.