Blyth man crafts unique holiday train display over last 12 months - Dec. 20, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
On Drummond Street in Blyth, a very festive Christmas display has popped up in one of the apartments just north of the post office, thanks to a year of hard work by resident Jeff Norgate.
Norgate and his partner Cindy Bryson are relatively new to Blyth, having moved to the village a year and a half ago and they just recently welcomed friends and neighbours to their home for a holiday open house. It’s the second year they’ve done so for the holidays, but this year, those who attended were in for something special.
Norgate is a model train enthusiast who has worked extensively with four G-scale trains (which are measured with an approximate scale of 1:24, as opposed to the industry standard of 1:87). Last year when the couple held its Christmas open house, there was a small set-up that wowed guests young and old alike.
It was at that party that he knew he wanted to work to expand and improve the display for the holidays the following year.
He began working almost immediately on the trains, as well as buildings and setting pieces for the display to the point that it now takes up a significant amount of real estate in their apartment.
Norgate’s trains are all automated, which is how he likes it. He has worked with the electronics that are unique in that they utilize random automation for the trains. Not only do most model train collectors prefer full control over their trains, but those that are automated usually run on pretty tight schedules. Norgate, however, never knows exactly what his trains are going to do and the train motion also triggers a number of other automated features of the display like lights, sound and song.
While he has bought the trains and some of the setting pieces used at model train shows or online, he has built much of the display himself as well. And, even the pieces he’s bought, he’s modified himself to install lights, patrons on a train or a whole host of additions that are truly one-of-a-kind.
He says that those who attended the Christmas open house earlier this year were floored with what they saw and it made all of his hard work worth it. This year they created a scavenger hunt for the children attending, encouraging them to keep their eyes peeled and to find every little detail.
However, Norgate hardly sees it as work, as model trains have been a hobby and passion of his since he was a little boy growing up in the Toronto area.
Norgate was born and raised in the city, but then moved to Wingham, where he worked for decades before moving to Blyth.
He works at CKNX and Sparling’s Propane now and lives with Bryson, who just moved to Huron County from Tennessee in May of last year.
As for the display, Norgate says he already has some ideas on how to expand and improve the display for next year. He’s still formulating his plan, but he says he’s not going to grow the footprint of the display, but rather move upwards and incorporate some tunnels with the couple’s Christmas tree. After the response he got from those who attended the open house this year, he’s already looking forward to wowing his friends and neighbours again next Christmas.