December 11, 2022 10.00 am This story is over 11 months old

Meet the man who builds miniature models of 1946 Lincoln

Richard has a passion for models and railways

A Lincoln man has a passion for making miniature models of the city of his birth, with particular focus on the year 1946.

Richard Budge, who goes by the author name of H.h. Benning for his work, moved to Brittany in France around 20 years ago, with his wife and youngster of four children, where he continues to make the models.

He didn’t live in Lincoln for long, but throughout his childhood there were regular visits and later in life he returned from time to time, saying “I was always happy there”.

The 76-year-old said the models are intended to be of 1946, specifically September 8, and for historical accuracy he said he has “relied upon Kelly’s Directory for that year for details of businesses premises”.

Richard’s model of part of Lincoln High Street. | Photo: H.h. Benning

Richard at work on one of his models. | Photo: H.h. Benning

Although he still loves making the models, the 76-year-old did point out that the date he chose is “already flawed as, according to my father, that Sunday morning was very reminiscent of the opening scene from ‘The Omen’…the technology doesn’t yet exist to produce torrential rain, thunder and lightning in OO scale (standard-gauge model railway standard).”

The current project he is working on is from Halford’s Corner to Albion Yard with the level closing as the centrepiece.

Another historic section of Lincoln High Street. | Photo: H.h. Benning

The Great Northern Hotel. | Photo: H.h. Benning

Each section is being built separately and in the end will eventually go together “like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle to show that section of the city,” Richard said.

Around a year ago he also started working on The Great Northern Hotel model, which is around 60cm x 35cm, a typical size for work.

All of his models which he has accumulated over a couple of decades or more are housed in what he calls his “railway room”.

Halfords Corner. | Photo: H.h. Benning

High Street Signal Box. | Photo: H.h. Benning

Bus stop by the station. | Photo: H.h. Benning

When asked about the inspiration for his work, Richard told The Lincolnite: “A life-long love of railways and many years of modelling, with Lincoln being somewhere that I wanted to tackle, and nostalgia for the city of my birth, and sadly, a place where I’ve spent far too little time.”

He said that very few photographs exist of the buildings he’s modelled “leaving a lot to the imagination, compromise, and so forth” as many of the buildings “have been demolished so that no modern reference exists.”

Great Northern Stables. | Photo: H.h. Benning

St Mary’s Church and The Conduit. | Photo: H.h. Benning

Whitefriars in Lincoln. | Photo: H.h. Benning

He added: “When it comes to bringing the model alive with trains, it’s a different story; location of locomotives, liveries, and drivers’ inside-leg measurements are all well documented.”

The year of 1946 is important as not only was it the year of Richard’s birth, but also “a time for ‘The Big Four’ companies prior to nationalisation, and also a time when the railways were struggling to recover from World War II in the face of lack of investment”.

Richard still loves continuing with his Lincoln models and said “there’s still a way to go to finish”. He said: “I’m currently back in St Mary’s Street – at Wilkinson the Watchsmith – and probably can’t stop until I get to The Albion.”

He said: “I know Lincoln has changed greatly from the city that I remember, the one that I’ve researched for the model, and the one in my collection of photographs taken during the 1960s.

“But following as I do on a Facebook group, I get the feeling that the same heart is still beating. I have a great love of history and would’ve once become an archaeologist. I would happily travel back in time to live in Roman Britain.

“I loved the industrial Lincoln and the red brick terraces – and its railways – and, of course, the Cathedral and Steep Hill.”

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