Former Doncaster Rovers chairman John Ryan releases book about his huge model railway

Former Doncaster Rovers chairman John Ryan is on track for success of a different kind – after releasing a book about his model railway, one of Britain’s biggest layouts.

Saturday, 27th April 2019, 1:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 6:43 pm

John has teamed up with local author Peter Tuffrey for the 176-page book which explores the huge layout he has spent years building at his home in Cheshire.

The book, John Ryan’s Express, offers a detailed glimpse of the O gauge model railway which is housed in a specially constructed shed at his mansion in Over Peover – which the layout is named after.

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John got his first train set at the age of five.

He first became interested in model railways at the age of five when his father took him to see steam locomotives hurtling through Doncaster railway station on the East Coast Main Line.

At Christmas 1955, he acquired his first train set a Hornby-Dublo three-rail Duchess of Montrose.

Other train sets were acquired and layouts constructed - all OO gauge - until the fascination for the larger O gauge took control.

This was in the early 1980s and when, a little later, success and finances became available, all his OO gauge locomotives and rolling stock were sold or swapped for O gauge models and he began constructing one of the largest layouts of its type in the country.

The huge layout is housed in a specially constructed shed at his mansion in Cheshire.

The switch to O gauge coincided with his teaming up with Norman Solomon, an expert track-builder, who has been involved in the various stages of John's present enormous layout.

Other people have supplied stations, goods sheds, coal hoppers and viaducts to create the stunning set.

Running models of the locomotives he saw whilst a youngster in Doncaster during the 1950s, many of his locos are illustrated in the book, which is available now.

John Ryan with his model railway.

The layout can be operated in two periods - 1930s and 1950s – and some of John's most impressive carriages include the `Silver Jubilee', `Coronation' and Pullman sets.

The book follows the development of model railways in Britain, Doncaster Plant Works' association with locomotive, carriage and wagon building as well s John's various railway layouts as well as touching upon his business interests.

Photographs in the book show in fine detail and from different angles all aspects of the layout to such an extent that the viewer almost believes they are part of a real railway.

Born in Doncaster in 1950, he attended Doncaster’s Danum Grammar School and then went to Nottingham University where he obtained a degree in chemistry.

The book explores John's lifelong love of model trains.

From 1978 to 2002 he was managing director of the Transform Medical Group and between 1998 and 2015, he was chairman of Doncaster Rovers, helping lead the club from non-league to the Championship and overseeing the League One play off final win over Leeds at Wembley and the Johnstone Paints trophy win over Bristol Rovers at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

The full colour-illustrated, 176-page hardback book has been written by Peter Tuffrey and John, and is published by Great Northern Books and includes a foreword from music mogul and fellow railway enthusiast Pete Waterman.

The new book explores John Ryan's love for model railways.