New Warwickshire shop where you can buy a royal bottom warmer
IF you have ever wanted to own a bottom warmer from the royal waiting room at Wolferton Railway Station, near Sandringham, then a new business could fulfil your dreams.
This is just one of the collectible items on sale at a model railway shop in Alcester which was opened by the town’s former high bailiff, David Parkes.
A railway fan and train spotter all his life, Mr Parkes, 53, has turned his hobby into Alcester Trains and Models, which he launched this month in Church Street.
It was Mr Parke’s father, Bryan, who got him hooked on trains when he set up a Hornby model railway underneath the family's Christmas tree as a present for his son.
Like all enthusiasts, the model railway was added to over the years until the layout was moved to the loft at the family home in Shirley.
“Dad would buy railway stuff but wouldn't tell mum,” Mr Parkes said. “He would say to me, ‘don't tell your mum’ and then he would show me the latest addition, which was on one occasion The Flying Scotsman. I've still got that model and the railway set.”
The family moved to Earlswood in 1979 and the set was packed away, but it never left Mr Parkes completely and he rediscovered his hobby which he now shares with his nine-year-old son Harry.
However, he never had a business in mind when he started buying job lots of ‘railwayana’ which were then stored at his home in Alcester town centre.
"I was literally dipping my toe in the water,” he said. “One of the quirky things I bought was the bottom warmer from the royal waiting room at Sandringham on the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line. It's more like a fire guard with wooden panels that open to allow the heat in - it makes you wonder who might have warmed themselves with this while waiting for a train. The station was used by Queen Victoria, members of the royal family and visiting dignitaries. I think the station closed in 1964.”
Since the shop opened, Mr Parkes has welcomed customers who want to buy and some who just want to chat about the stock - there’s a wide range of items such as old railway signs (he has an original Paddington Station sign from the 1980s) and uniforms and maps from the London Underground.
One of his favourites is Bassett Lowke steam engine with a difference – his model railway engine has a mistake.
"I've got an original version, which is fine, and I've got another of the same model which is a manufacturer's mistake and it's the only one - the mistake is a spelling error," said Mr Parkes.
An undertaker by profession, he added: "It's lovely to see a shop opening that's out of the ordinary. It bucks the trend when other shops are unfortunately closing and my wife - Tracy - is very happy about it too because now she's got the house back after years of me storing all my memorabilia there.”