“WAGON-DAFT” David Hutchinson is a model prize-winner.
Forty-one-year-old David has been honoured for his hand-built model of one of the country’s most hi-tech fairground rides.
He beat off competition from 17 other modellers to claim the Fairground Association’s top prize for his 1:50 scale reproduction of Abi Danter’s Air ride, currently featuring on Channel 5’s Fairground Attractions.
The project was a labour of love for David, who admits: “I have always been wagon-daft.”
The only shop-bought parts of the five-piece model are the tractor units and the cranes – everything else has been recreated by hand, based on meticulous research.
Most people might take time off work when Newcastle Hoppings comes to town – but David did so before the fair actually opened.
“I took a week off work when it came up for the Town Moor and took about 300 photos of it when they were bolting it together,” he said.
It was not just the actual assembly that took up the time – getting the paintjob right was a major job in itself.
“I had to mix the paint myself,” said David. “Even the owner himself couldn’t tell me what the colours were.”
David, a fork-lift driver from Peterlee, has been modelling since he was “10 or 11” and believes the rarity value of the ride he was building played a part in his win.
“No one else has tried to do it. The ride itself only came into the country in April, direct from Germany,” he said.
The real thing cost £1.8million, but David admits he has no idea of how much his version has set him back. He had to buy the tractor units and was forced to shell out to import two entire wagon models from Germany just to get the cranes., but it is time, rather than money, that has been the major investment.
“I haven’t costed it,” he said. “It’s not about the money, it’s the actual physical hours, the time I have put in. It has taken 800 hours. I started in June and have worked on it every night since.”
David’s award-winning effort will be on display to the public this weekend, when the North East Meccano Society and Die-Cast Collectors Club team up to raise funds for charity.
The two groups are holding an exhibition in the former Ethel Austin shop in The Broadclose, Peterlee, between 9am and 5pm today and tomorrow, with all proceeds going to the North East Air Ambulance.
A toy and model collectors’ fair at Bowburn Community Centre next Sunday, December 18, will also raise money for the fund.