Train buff saves Seaside model shop from axe

Sebastian at Train Times SUS-141208-122323001
Sebastian at Train Times SUS-141208-122323001

An historic Eastbourne model shop has been saved from closure by a young enthusiast.

Train Times Model and Collectors Shop in Seaside is the oldest in Eastbourne having first opened its doors to model railway and aircraft enthusiasts back in the 1960s.

However when long-time owner Trevor Hendrick died in 2013, it was in danger of closing for good until, that is, Sebastian Hale Smith came forward to take over the lease.

Law student Sebastian, 24, is a friend of Trevor’s daughter, and as a model railway fan himself was horrified that the local institution might cease to exist.

“‘When it was first suggested that I should take over the shop, I thought it was a crazy idea,” said Sebastian,

“But the more I looked into it, the more sense it made. It’s a sound, successful business with a strong and loyal customer base.”

Sebastian, who will live above the shop and continue studying for his part time Masters degree in Law in the evenings, has spent the last few weeks refurbishing the shop with the help of step-dad Jim Cook.

He is keen to reassure customers that no radical changes are planned, and Train Times will continue to focus on model railways, model aircraft, and materials for scratch modellers. He is however keen to develop online sales, and introduce the joys of modelling to a younger audience – and of course, to hear from customers if they would like him to stock something in particular.

“I got my first 00 gauge train set when I was four,” said Sebastian. “We had a six by four foot layout and the whole family joined in designing and modelling for it. I absolutely loved it, but sadly, when we moved house there was no room to set it up, so I guess I am making up for lost time now.”

Train Times will be open from Thursday August 14 with a celebratory grand re-opening planned for later in the year. Opening hours will be 9am–5pm Tuesday to Saturday with late opening on Friday. Customers can ring Sebastian on 722026 or email train