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Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 10:41 UK
New home sought for Cornish Vicar's railway

Watch our BBC archive film from 30 years ago

Efforts are being made to save one of the most intricate railway models ever built, the lifetime obsession of one Cornish vicar.

The Rev Peter Denny spent 30 years constructing the huge layout at the Vicarage at St Newlyn East.

The "Buckingham Central" system never really existed in real life. It didn't stop Rev Denny going to great lengths to make it as authentic as possible.

He painstakingly soldered every link of track.

It was a true labour of love as the Rev Denny built cardboard versions of real buildings and even chipped genuine lumps of coal into tiny pieces to fill the tenders.

In 1984 he retired and moved to Truro to a house with a purpose-built railway room and carried on working on the network.

Buckingham Central
Buckingham Central was in the making for 30 years

Railway buffs have hailed it a 'masterpiece of modelling' - but when the Rev Denny died in December 2009 aged 92, the question arose what to do with the railway?

Now the Rev's three sons have decided to seek a new home - and modelling museums are interested.

Crispin Denny says: "Dad spent his lifetime building this and we owe itto him to find the best home. We've had letters from individuals and interest from museums who are interested in taking the whole railway."

With so many switches and tracks, this railway is far too complex for one person to operate. In the film at the top of this page, shot by the BBC in 1980 as part of the 'Small World' series presented by Eric Thompson, you can see three people, including the Reverend, manning the controls.

The team had to follow a strict timetable otherwise the whole system would grind to a halt.

When Crispin Denny went to university, a simple computer was constructed to fill his position at the controls. It was named 'The Automatic Crispin'.

Whoever takes on the railways faces a real challenge, as it was never designed to be removed from the house in Truro and under the carefully created hills and towns are a spaghetti of wires.

But for true enthusiasts, it's the work of a genius.

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