Australian Model Railway Association NSW Inc.

Return to the home page Find out more about AMRA NSW Read all about our huge annual model railway exhibition Find where AMRA NSW is located Read about how AMRA NSW got where it is today Read about the layouts at the AMRA NSW clubrooms See some of the features on the site Find out what's on at AMRA NSW Go to other sites of interest

History of AMRA NSW

The tin shed that would soon become the AMRA NSW clubrooms.You have to go back to 28th October 1956, to the time of the Melbourne Olympics, to trace the beginnings of AMRA NSW. It was on that Sunday that the first official meeting of what we call the Club took place. Six men attended. The NSW branch of the national body, the Australian Model Railway Association – formed five years earlier – came into being.

The AMRA magazine, “Journal”, issue no. 22, reporting on that meeting, recorded that “big oaks from little acorns grow”.

How right it was. Membership of AMRA NSW is now well over 300.

The first layout, in “O” gauge, was constructed in a corner of the Burwood Police Citizens' Boys Club. From those humble beginnings, the Club now has fully-owned two storey clubrooms at Mortdale with three large permanent layouts - “O”, “HO” and “N” -, two exhibition layouts ”O” and “HO”, a U-drive layout (mainly as fun for kids) and arguably the best model railway clubrooms in Australia – taking in 640 square metres of floor space.

For a hobbyist club, it is very well funded. More than anything this results from having organised each year the largest model railway exhibition in NSW. In 2012, the 50th such exhibition was run. Some achievement that few, if any, can match. The exhibition is run to cover expenses and generate a surplus which provides the club with funds to expand facilities, in particular the layouts.

In retrospect, probably the single most significant event in its history, was the decision to purchase accommodation at Rockdale in 1968. Members used great foresight, fortitude, their own money and  large chucks of personal exertion to secure a place to meet and “play trains”. Paying rent was not for them. And so it has been ever since.

Not far behind in terms of importance was the move to Mortdale. A factory unit was purchased in November 2001 followed by over a year of complete rebuilding; the outside walls and roof were retained but the inside was gutted before a second level floor was added. Many members gave a great deal of time and effort during this period, culminating in the official opening of the new clubrooms in July 2003.


28 Oct 1956  

First official meeting.


First exhibition, Burwood.


Second exhibition, Sydney Lower Town Hall.


Move to Rockdale premises.


Exhibition moves to Sydney RAS Showgrounds.


Exhibition moves to Liverpool.


Purchase of Mortdale premises.

25 April 2002

Vacant possession of the Mortdale premises.

9 July 2003

One of the six originals, Norm Read, passes away. Surely none would argue that it was Norm who, over 46 years, gave the Club the firm foundation to become what it is today.

July 2003

Official Opening Dinner of the Mortdale clubrooms.


Exhibition moves to Hurstville Aquatic Centre.


Member Jack Parker given 50 year membership badge.

27/28 Oct 2006

50th anniversary weekend, including a dinner and a 3112-hauled 'Anniversary Express' to Berry on the NSW South Coast.


Exhibition moves back to Liverpool.


Member Colin Shepherd given 50 year membership badge.

Sep/Oct 2012

50th Anniversary Model Railway Exhibition, Liverpool, NSW.  

Today a vibrant, well attended Club. Memberships are available; ring (02) 9153 5901.

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AMRA NSW is dedicated to promoting the hobby of model railways throughout New South Wales.
These pages last updated 16 June, 2017 by Damien George.