Today, Pilentum Television visits the large model railway layout inside the Museum of Hamburg History, Germany. Most people – in the context of Hamburg and model railway – are thinking about the great Miniature Wonderland, the largest model railway of the world.
But many years before, a very large model railroad has been built in Hamburg. This model railroad wants to appear anything but commercial, but to present the railway history of Hamburg in an educational way. It is the 1 gauge railroad layout built by Germany’s first model railroad association in 1949.
The origin of this beautiful layout dates back in 1944, when the Director of the Museum of Hamburg History had the idea to establish an exhibition of Hamburg’s railway history. In order to show Hamburg’s railway history, a large exhibition hall inside the museum was chosen. And, a few years later, the idea of building a model railway layout came into reality. The members of Hamburg’s railroad association began to work.
But note, this happened immediately after the Second World War. And, Germany was destroyed in ruins. Therefore, it is not a surprise that model railway friends from Sweden organized nearly 250 square meters of wood panels for the construction of the model railroad. After two years of construction, on October, 1949, the first layout of Hamburg’s model railroad was finished.
However, over the years, there have been a number of smaller and even larger problems, but the analogue railway system was running for more than 40 years without a technical failure.
In 1995, many parts of the first layout had failures. Locomotives and the rolling stock were also affected and had to be modernized. This is not surprising, because the rolling stock had travelled almost 6,000 kilometers along the model railway tracks. Anyway, the members of the railroad association were able to solve these problems successfully.
But there was another big problem: The entire cabling of the model railroad had to be modernized. This problem was a disaster, because anyone, who builds model railroads, knows that there are numerous electrical cables and power connections that have to be installed along the tracks. It is a laborious work to fulfill this electrical installation. And, it was even more difficult to modernize the old electrical installation completely.
The members of Hamburg’s railroad association went to work again to restore the old railway layout. Old tracks were replaced by new tracks. The three-wire alternating power operation was switched to the two-wire DC operation. As a result, of course, all locomotives, passenger wagons and freight cars had to be retrofitted.
Furthermore, the analogue model railroad control had to be exchanged. A full digital solution, which we know on the market today, was not used at that time, because hundreds or thousands of decoders had to be installed inside the rolling stock. But a very good solution was offered at that time by the computer-aided model railroad control of the company Gahler & Ringstmeier from Germany.
With the Gahler & Ringstmeier system defined routes are stored for each model train. And, the current position of all available model trains is also monitored. However, in December 1996, this mammoth work was completed.
Years later, the modernization of the railroad layout could be continued. New sections, new landscapes, and new railway stations were installed. And, the catenary was modernized, too.
Finally, today’s concept of the modernized and expanded railroad layout, is to present 100 years of railway history in Hamburg. This includes all trains of passenger and freight transport, from Prussian wagons to the new ICE high-speed train.
Today, visitors of the Museum of Hamburg History enjoy 115 vehicles, including 60 steam locomotives, 13 electric locomotives, 26 diesel locomotives, 4 electric tramways as well as 12 diesel railcars, and much more. There are 185 passenger cars, and 380 freight cars.
Since the opening of the model railroad layout in October 1949, this model train show was built by members of Hamburg’s model railroad association, and today it is still supervised by members of Hamburg’s railroad association. The exhibition takes 600 square meters. The model railway layout itself, has a size of 250 square meters. With a track length of more than 1,200 meters, there is a lot to discover on the left and right of the railway lines. Please, enjoy these toy trains, and visit or for more information. Thank you.