Cyril Fry’s hand-made models are possibly one of the most important private collections of miniature railway engines, wagons and carriages ever created.
Model Railway Museum
Cyril Laurence Fry (1905-1972) was the first son of Sydney Fry and Emilie Mabel. As a young boy Cyril became fascinated by the trains that ran past the rear of their house in Dundrum.
When he was 10 years old, Cyril was sent to boarding school in England, where his passion grew. He even helped start a model railway club at his school. At 17 he became an apprentice and went on to become an engineer with the Inchicore Railway Works in Dublin.
Throughout his working career, Fry spent his spare time building over 350 precision-made models and created an elaborate attic layout on which to display them. This complex layout included signal lights and level crossing barriers, which all worked automatically. He often worked from original plans and drawings from the railway companies to get the exact details and scale. All of the individual details, such as wheels and doors, were made with their own mould, which was then filled with hot metal. Once the pieces had cooled, they were filed into shape on a lathe and then hand-painted with a brush so fine that Fry could add his name to each model.
A Brief History
His daughter Patricia remembers the attic layout as ‘an absolute fairyland’. His assembly displayed Dublin, Cork and Belfast stations. The model trains that ran between them ranged from the ‘Hibernia’, the country’s first steam locomotive, to trams and diesel and electric engines of the 1950s. They ran on broad- and narrow-gauge tracks and on tramways.
After Cyril’s death the Cyril Fry collection of models was purchased by Dublin Regional Tourism and initially stored in the CIE works at Inchicore.
The scale and complexity of the original Irish International Railway and Tramway System built by Cyril Fry in his attic, has always been a source of inspiration for transport and modelling enthusiasts.
In 1988 a working layout and model exhibition opened at Malahide Castle and gave a comprehensive view on the history of mechanised transport in Ireland until its closure in 2011.
A modern working layout inspired by both the original Cyril Fry layout and the Malahide layout has now been created for the Casino.
Fry’s original models are now over 70-80 years old, and very fragile. Even before he died in 1972, Fry was anxious that his models should not be continuously used and wanted then kept for posterity. The Casino Model Railway Museum will preserve this iconic collection for future generations