Seventy years ago, when TME was started by a small group of enthusiasts, who would have dreamt that in 2021 the society would be building a permanent home on land it owned?
TME is now a registered charity intent on promoting engineering to the public, educating people form all walks of life and encouraging young people to take up engineering as a career.
For 14 years TME leased a piece of land from the parish council at Creech St Michael,, where they had a railway track, and on Sundays invited the public to join them for train rides. In 2017 the lease was abruptly terminated. This left the society with a small railway track layout at Vivary Park as its only "home" and that lacked any sort of building or facilities. Dismayed but unbowed, the society took a bold step and decided to seek a piece of land they could buy to create a new, bigger, better, and above all permanent, home to ensure the future of Taunton Model Engineers. It took a year to locate a suitable site, raise the funds, and obtain planning permission, but in 2019 four-and-a-half acres of waterlogged rough grassland just outside West Buckland, became the property of Taunton Model Engineers.
Now the real work had to begin - clearing, surveying, draining, marking out where buildings should go and where tracks for a miniature railway would be laid. The access had to be improved and secured, with good visibility for vehicles arriving and leaving. A plan for the site had been drawn up, which was modified as work got under way. Serious fundraising began, and grants were obtained from Viridor Credits which made all this possible. Plans were drawn up for a building - large enough to include a meeting space, a workshop, a small office, kitchen and toilets - a building which could be used for meetings, and for visits from schools, for teaching and passing on skills, and perhaps even to serve the local community.
Today, the shell of that building has been erected. Half a mile of railway track in two different gauges has been assembled, and the work of laying it has begun, following a course which has been dug, drained, and prepared. Tree-planting has begun, as this rough site will eventually be a place of relaxation and beauty, for people and wildlife. All this work has been carried out by members themselves, drawing on the skills and experience of people from many walks of life.
That building, which will be the fulfilment of a dream as well as a springboard for future activity, is now the focus of TME's efforts. We are determined to complete this before next summer, so that members and public alike can enjoy the facilities we have to offer.
You too can be part of the "greatest volunteered project I've ever seen"! (A project officer from Viridor Credits called it that when he saw what had been achieved so far, and he's seen a few projects in his time!)
Will you help us to raise the £40,000 needed for this stage of the project?
Are you or any of your family keen to get involved? A year's full membership is available for less than £1 a week, and you can then join our working parties which take place most Thursdays and Sundays.