Sir Rod Stewart unveils model railway he worked on for 25 years

13 November 2019, 15:29 | Updated: 13 November 2019, 16:54

Sir Rod Stewart has said he is "so proud" his model railway has been getting so much attention because some believe it's just a "silly hobby".

The railway, which took around 25 years of work to complete, was unveiled today.

Called Grand Street and Three Rivers City, the model is based on an American city in the 1940s and spans 1,500 square feet in the attic of his Los Angeles home.

The rock star, 74, told Radio 2's Jeremy Vine of his joy at the coverage his creation has attracted after it was shared by Railway Modeller magazine.

He said: "It's really noisy because we have sound effects when the trains go through the city, there's a city sound of New York, they go through the country, there's birds singing, it is quite incredible, I am so proud of it and I'm so proud of the coverage it got today.

"A lot of people laugh at it being a silly hobby, but it's a wonderful hobby."

He said he called Vine's show because the presenter had insinuated Sir Rod could not have built it all by himself.

But Sir Rod said: "I would say 90% of it I built myself, the only thing I wasn't very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that."

He added: "They say model railroads are never finished, but this one is. There's not much more I can do with it.

"I might upgrade a couple of buildings when I'm back in LA, but otherwise it's finished. And now I'm going to try and bring it to England but it's almost an impossibility."

The depiction of a post-war, heavily industrialised city, based on both Chicago and New York City, was inspired by Sir Rod's love of American railroads.

It includes skyscrapers - some of which are 5ft (1.52m) tall, bridges, a rush-hour traffic scene, "transition era" facilities for both steam and diesel traction, and a power station.

Also included is a Celtic FC-liveried coal wagon, a tribute to Sir Rod's football team.

A Great Caledonian Steel & Iron Co building in reference to his Scottish heritage is also featured, with a green backdrop of the leafy areas around the city.

Sir Rod started the project in 1993 and booked an extra room in hotels when on tour so he could work on his models.

Asked why he based his biggest model railway project on the American railroad rather than the British railways he grew up with, he told Railway Modeller magazine: "They're bigger, the locos are bigger, but not any better, everything is just bigger."

Sir Rod added: "It's the landscape I like. Attention to detail, extreme detail, is paramount. There shouldn't be any unsightly gaps, or pavements that are too clean."

The singer has been celebrating a career spanning 50 years with a new album, You're In My Heart: Rod Stewart With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, released on 22 November.

The December issue of Railway Modeller magazine is on sale on 14 November.