Peter Rixon of Greenslade Taylor Hunt gives advice on antiques 

There is a type of railway line impervious to the wrong kind of snow, or the seasonal build-up of sodden leaves; a line which, having escaped Dr Beeching’s frenzied axe-work, continues to carry passenger and goods traffic hauled by locomotives that depart punctually and arrive at their destination without delay or de-railment. You may well wonder in what hidden corner of the globe this Utopian dream becomes reality. The answer is in the perfectly controlled and precisely co-ordinated world of the model train.

Whether it is harmless escapism, or the opportunity to create a local environment of gentle unending tranquility, miniature railways have retained their popularity. In terms of mainstream appeal there has been a gradual migration from the tinplate ‘O’ gauge models of the 1920s and 30s, to the slightly smaller ‘OO’ gauge locomotives and rolling stock that came to the fore after the Second World War, manufactured in cast metal alloy or plastic. The buyer demographic has shifted, too.

Comparatively few models are now sold as playthings for children; they are traded as collectibles for adult enthusiasts, the latest releases incorporating a staggering level of period detail.

Don’t believe those who tell you that steam is dead but don’t dismiss diesels, either. They are also old enough to have their own heritage scene.

Whereas the vast majority of full-sized locomotives were scrapped at the end of their service lives their reduced-scale counterparts enjoy a protected status, safeguarded by a buoyant secondary market.

Visit a specialist auction and you will again encounter all those evocative express engines that raced between London and Scotland; the named trains which carried hordes of happy holidaymakers to the seaside; the smut-caked sweating work-horses of night-time freight services; and the spritely tank locomotives that efficiently shuffled carriages and wagons in marshalling yards beside the mainlines. The essential joy of this hobby is allowing you to re-visit the best of yesterday tomorrow.