In 1984, following a discussion in the White Horse at Henley on Thames on the way back from Scaleforum and in the light of the success being enjoyed by the then new British Railway Journal, Paul Karau and Gerry Beale decided that Wild Swan Publishing should launch a new railway modelling magazine. Within a few hours and one phone call to Bob Barlow later, the foundations of what became Model Railway Journal had been firmly set down.
Aimed at the “serious” modeller, but promising not to take itself too seriously, the magazine set out to provide a forum for those modellers who wished to progress beyond what was on offer from the ready to run manufacturers, whilst also providing a good read for interested observers. The instigators drew upon the experiences and models of a small group of “up and coming” modellers of the time, Monty Wells, Barry Norman and Iain Rice to name but three, in addition to revisiting the work of some of the hobby’s “past masters”.
It was decided to produce a preview issue in order to show modellers what Model Railway Journal would look like and to test market reaction. Owing to some technicality within the magazine distribution system this very first issue would be idiosyncratically numbered zero. The now famous preview issue was accordingly published in January of 1985 and April of the same year saw the launch of issue one and the commitment to regular publication, initially set at quarterly intervals.
Model Railway Journal continues, inspiring modellers who seek to improve their art, showcasing the best of British modelling, conducting measured debates about matters of glorious inconsequence and sometimes frustrating us in the pursuit of fidelity to prototype that borders on the insane. Never afraid to say what it thinks, thought provoking and always written in English, it is consistently one of the very the best reads to be found on the newstands.
Long may it continue and thank you to Paul Karau, Bob Barlow, Gerry Beale and all those other names who have contributed to its phenomenal and enduring success.