Nelson Kennedy - a personal profile

- or a bit of a philosophical ramble

I reflect from time to time on why it is that I have had an abiding interest in model railways all my life. I'm not sure I know the answer, or even if it is important to know but the question comes back now and again and begs an answer.

I have been interested in miniature creations for as long as I can remember and 'finesse' has always been an important aspect. My earliest recollections are visiting the Winter Show in 1946 or 1947 when I would have been four or five years old and being transfixed by a working model steam traction engine. I didn't know what to call it then - but I remember even now being impressed by its finesse - everything looked just right. It was not an 'impressionist' model like the tinplate trains in the shops. Another memory is seeing a model of a car, about 1949, in what I would now judge to be 1/12 scale, in the window of Haines Motors on the corner of Gloucester and Manchester Streets in Christchurch. Probably a Nash, I think. I have a clear memory of it having captured well the rounded shape of the just pre-war or immediately post war design and it having delicate windscreen wipers and chromed headlight surrounds - again, finesse.

My interest in models of different types has persisted and I have strayed from the true faith several times with reasonably lengthy forays into radio controlled aircraft and W.W.II large scale warships. Yet it is rail to which I inevitably return. I put this down to my spending my earliest years living with my grandparents whilst my father was overseas in the forces and my grandfather, a railway worker taking me onto his knee and telling me about the days activities. Of course, there were visits to the station and we had to take a tram to get there. All experiences which go to shaping up why I am me, I guess.

So I model trains. I don't have a layout but I am fortunate in being part of the Christchurch Nine Mill group which provides fellowship of modellers with a common interest and a chance to 'play trains'.

Those who have known me for some years will know that I have been a veritable butterfly in my choice of prototypes and scales. I have modelled in European H0, US N scale, NZR Sn3, GWR P4, BN H0, and presently in NZR Nine Mill with a little Espee HO for variety. I used to wonder if I would stay in one scale long enough to achieve anything until I came to the realisation that what I enjoy about this hobby is exploring new horizons and trying the new technologies as they emerge. That's what I do. That's what 'Model Railroading is Fun' means to me. I no longer feel apologetic about not having the same sort of goals as other modellers around me.

My re-entry into the commercial marketplace with some products for the NZR Nine Mill Scale modellers has put a serious damper on my own modelling over the last several years. I still nurture the idea that I will have an Ec pulling a rake of cars in typical Lyttelton train consist of the 1950s but it will have to wait until the product range is rounded out a bit more - and that means time put in to pattern making rather than my own modelling. Whoever said that turning a hobby interest into a business leaves little room for the hobby was so right! But I'm not complaining. Honest!


I have been a career Chartered Accountant and corporate manager and spent the last 15 years of my working life in the social services sector within the Anglican Church.  I retired at the end of 2002 a little ahead of 'normal' retirement time to deal with a medical condition that was better able to be managed away from the stress of day to day managerial life.  That has been a good move.   I supplement my retirement savings (which my family lives off until I qualify for a pension in 2007) by building models for other people.  Hey, it's good to get paid for enjoying your hobby!


I am also putting time into some theological training having been accepted into a programme for possible late life ordination into the priesthood.  Watch this space!

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Updated 30 November 2004