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Engineering a miniature world: Almondell Model Engineering Centre

An extraordinary venue is gradually emerging out of what was an overgrown and neglected woodland near Pumpherston.

Acquired by the Edinburgh Society of Model Engineers in 2013, the 11 acre woodland site on Drumshoreland Road is destined to be one of the largest model engineering centres in Europe.

It’s a work in progress, but already you can see the vision taking shape: it’s a miniature wonderland with bridges, tunnels, stations, a water feature, over 2 kms of miniature gauge railway track, and much more.

Tracks in the woodland
Tracks in the woodland

And the Society members are keen for the local community to get involved in its creation and development. Perhaps you are entering retirement, between jobs, or a student with time on your hands. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved with a constructional project, to have fun, camaraderie and learn some new skills along the way.

This is the first time in the Society’s 127 year history that it has had its own permanent site to build tracks and features on, a place where members will be able to come to work on their engineering projects, run their steam trains and other vehicles. They are working hard to create a venue for all generations to enjoy their hobby.

But it’s much more than that.

The site and the society is a rich resource that they want to share with the community for learning about engineering as well as other hobbies.

The site and the society is a rich resource that they want to share with the community for learning about engineering as well as other hobbies.

Bridge building: Andrew rapidly learned bridge-building skills during the last lockdown
Bridge building: Andrew rapidly learned bridge-building skills during the last lockdown

Almondell Engineering Centre is a beautiful natural environmental setting, and ecology goes hand in hand with the engineering here. The woodland was very dense and unmanaged previously, and it has benefited from active management since the Society took over. Deer and other wildlife make their home here; there are wild areas for insects to flourish; they aim to put up bird boxes in the parts of the wooded area that the tracks do not go through; and they have created a pond which is a picturesque feature for the railway and will also encourage biodiversity over time.

Pretty much everything is made from recycled and repurposed material. That’s part of the genius of it. Between them, members and volunteers are bringing a huge amount of skill, experience, ingenuity and hard labour to forge this special venue.


An Outdoor Leaning venue

The Almondell Model Engineering Centre is available as an outdoor learning venue for schools, higher education, youth groups and industry.

There is free onsite car and coach parking and a 400 sqm Heritage Building for rainy days with toilets, kitchen, a large conference/classroom with full audio visual facilities, a training workshop and small meeting room.

We would love to hear from teachers, trainers or any organisations that would like to help us make use of our facilities to provide creative learning opportunities.

Please contact Andrew Newton on 07981756863 or email


Exercise and share with us

The lockdown during 2020 restricted development of the site and the Club are looking for

new members and volunteers to push forward more activities. If you have an interest in

model engineering or simply want to lend a hand, then get in touch. There is plenty to be involved in, from landscaping, surveying, ecology projects, and engineering. Camaraderie and new skills thrown in!

Work parties take place on Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 1000.

To get involved please contact Andrew Newton on 07981 756863 or email


The building, with an eco-friendly heating system, houses a training room, library, conference room and kitchen as well as the members’ workshop area. It is available for a nominal fee for organisations to hold AGMs or meetings, and they will be welcome to tour the site too.

There is something very joyful about a site being built not for profit but for the purpose of learning, playing, sharing knowledge and carrying on learning for a lifetime.

For more information and to get involved in any way, please visit:


phone: Andrew Newton 07981 756863

Almondell Model Engineering Centre, Drumshoreland Muir, Drumshoreland Road, Broxburn, EH52 5PF

Almondell Engineering Centre is an outdoors venue operating in line with the Scottish Government’s current advice for controlling the virus. ESME is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC041019


Published in Konect March 2021


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