Building a LEGO train club

This article was originally written for Brick Model Railroader in April 2020.

What do you do when you find other adult LEGO fans who love LEGO trains? Start a LEGO train club, of course!

We were all inspired by the collaboration we had seen on railway displays from LEGO Train Clubs (LTCs) in America and Australia. Groups such as PennLUG and Texas Brick Railroad in the US, and Melbourne LEGO Train Club and Victorian L Gauge Railways in Australia.

Founding the groupLNUR LEGO train club logo

LNUR was founded by three members – myself (aka Bricks McGee), Jack and James. We felt there was room for a LEGO train club in our area of the UK, and LEGO Northern UK Railway (LNUR) was born. The name and logo of the LNUR group are pastiches of LEGO Northern Eastern Railway, a historic and also current operating name for a major railway route in the UK between London and Edinburgh.

We were fairly local to each other, based in North East England and Yorkshire, and had talked before at LEGO shows we had been exhibiting at. Every LEGO train club seems to have plenty of loco builders, so our aim was to build a large main railway display for members to run their locomotive and rolling stock models on.

There are quite a few LEGO User Groups in the UK already, so our aim was not to replicate the functions of those, but to create a group in which LEGO train fans could collaborate more closely.We now have members from every LEGO User Group in the UK – something we hadn’t envisaged when we first started!

Our first LEGO railway display

The first official LNUR display was at Hull Block Con in August 2017, though a handful of British LEGO railway modellers had displayed together at Bricktastic LEGO show in Manchester earlier that year. The layout was based on Richard’s Felpersham railway station model, and James’ 9ft long Intercity 225 was incredibly popular with visitors to the show.

A model of Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive on our display at Hull Block Con 2017.

Shildon Brick Show

As a group, we average around 12 – 15 LEGO shows a year, which gives us plenty of chance to run locos and wagons on longer layouts than we could probably set up in our living rooms. As a LEGO train club, our flagship show for displays is Shildon Brick Show.

This has become our major show for displays for a few reasons: firstly, Shildon Brick Show is in a railway museum, which is the perfect backdrop for our LEGO railway. Secondly, the show is held in November each year so it gives us 11 months to prepare a new display to tour.

Last year, our display was “Darrington”, centred around a railway station based on Loughborough Central, now part of the Great Central Railway heritage line. The layout also features a traditional steam locomotive shed and a traction maintenance department.

A view from the road bridge over the railway station.

Felpersham Traction Maintenance Depot (TMD) on our Darrington LEGO railway display.

We use standard LEGO track where possible, though larger radius curves from both Brick Tracks and Trixbrix enable us to run at higher speeds for shows, and their custom crossovers, points and slip points are really helpful for allowing more interesting running for the public.

Rolling stock and locomotives

The majority of our members build British locos and wagons, though we do have a token railroader in Matt, who is building a modular US-style railroad display. Between our members, we have LEGO models of many of the more famous locomotives to run on British railways, including Jack’s Intercity 125:

LEGO BR class 43 locos and mark 3 carriages

James’ Intercity 225 on our layout at Bricktastic 2018 in Manchester:

LEGO Intercity 255 model by James Raper

We seem to like building the more quirky rolling stock, too. This is Pete’s FNA nuclear flask wagon:

Nuclear flask wagon (FNA).

Member layouts

Now we’re a little more mature as a LEGO train club, we’re seeing members building their own LEGO railway layouts ready to display at shows and exhibitions, too. We displayed our Ambridge & Paxley layout earlier this year at a show, which is a new end-to-end display. It made for a fun few days of operation as it required more coordination between drivers to use the single line between the stations.

LEGO railway station Ambridge by LNUR

A LEGO 02 locomotive on passenger service above the cricket pitch. A LEGO dinosaur (bottom left) always seems to be present on LNUR layouts! Photo: Isaac Smith.

We also have two narrow gauge railway displays in progress, and our long-running “playout” – a drive-your-own LEGO train display – is hugely popular at LEGO shows. Part of our remit as a LEGO train club is to encourage interest in the LEGO train hobby, so the younger we can inspire LEGO fans the better!

LNUR today

3 years since starting LNUR, we now have a steady membership of around 20 members, spread throughout Scotland and England. We even have a member in the US who builds British locomotives!

If you love LEGO trains and building displays, we would highly recommend getting together and building your own LEGO train club.

LUKR, LSUR and LNUR © Bricks McGee. The LEGO Group does not own or endorse LUKR, LNUR or LSUR. LEGO® is a registered trademark of the LEGO Group.