05 October 2021
Cupcake candles are lit, as the family-run Norwich-based model railway retailer reflects on its roots, looking ahead to a bright future.
Great Eastern Model Railways is celebrating 35 years in business. Operating from its Plumstead Road store in Norwich since 1986, the family-run shop provides model railways, and in its early days, toys and models to generations of Norfolk families.
Run by the Hockey family of Anne, Helen and Rob, the premises was launched as a hobby shop by the trio’s father Robert ‘John’ Hockey who had a road haulage business. Robert, a life-long model railway enthusiast, the family soon was used to being surrounded by model railways and soon caught the bug, working in the Plumstead road store at weekends, taking over the running of the family business.
After John passed away in 2005, the siblings have expanded the business, each bringing different roles to the shop, launching a mail order business, layout planning and railway design service and holding popular in-store events, including tutorial workshops on scenery building and digital control.
The upstairs showroom has hosted many model railway events, including offering a dedicated space for local clubs and societies to hold open days and exhibitions.
Great Eastern Model Railways has had many changes over the years, including a two-storey extension to cope with the growing demand for the hobby, a car park added to the rear, and more recently a complete remodel after a devastating flood from a burst pipe above. The owners assure that the store is retail-ready for the next 35yrs!
With no signs of slowing down, the model railway hobby is well supported in Norwich by this local family-run business, who say that good service and old fashion values are at the heart of its success, providing a hobby to escape to in uncertain times.