|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)|
||In 2007, I started posting cleaned-up high-resolution photos of buildings that could be used to make inexpensive backgrounds - or in some cases 3D models for any railroad, even outside, if you use the right materials. The photos have gone around the world, been used in every scale, and (with permission) in more than one virtual world. One was even "borrowed" (without permission) for an American Idol video. So they were a success, but they represented a lot of hard work, and it has been hard getting around to this sort of thing again.
Still, when we spent several days in London and the greater Dublin area recently, I couldn't help but be charmed by many of the buildings we passed.
So I've gotten my "cloning tools" out of mothballs and cleaned up six storefronts that indicate the sort of charm we encountered on street after street after street "across the pond."
As I did before, I squared up each photo, cloned out power lines, electrical boxes, fire hydrants, passers-by, automobiles, flower-pots, street lamp posts, etc., so each file represents something close to a "pure" building facade that you can trick out with your own accessories if desired.
The "Real" Isle of Sodor?
You may feel that there's nothing particularly "Irish" in this collection. I doubt that anyone would feel funny about seeing these on an "American" railroad. But they're part of a pattern of "old country" architecture that would be right at home in Thomas the Tank Engine's world. In fact, if you spend enough time in Ireland, and especially bumming around Irish railroads, you'll start to feel that you're on the Isle of Sodor. Yes, I realize that Thomas and his friends are mostly based on Great Western (British) prototypes and countryside, but that's not as far removed from Irish railroading and countryside as you might think. In other words, if you're a Thomas fan and you want to have towns to go with those stations and roundhouses, these six buildings should steer you in a fairly authentic direction.
Scales of BuildingsI went to a lot of effort in 2007 to provide really big versions of some of the buildings, the kind you could print off on 11"x17" printers, etc. As far as I know, only two or three people ever took advantage of the oversized graphic files, but a lot of folks asked for smaller versions. Well, these photos are almost all of 2-story versions (and the ones that aren't I converted to 2-story versions for simplicity.) And you can get a printout that's useful for large scale on an 8.5x11" sticker or sheet of paper. So that's as big as I went. Each building is available in five formats:
About The Store FrontsAlthough I captured a few English pubs and many storefronts from other towns that were just as charming as these photos, these represent the "downtown" buildings of the smaller East coast villages fairly well. The "Happy Pear" and "Sweet Shop" were from Greystones; the rest - if I remember correctly - are from Black Rock, where, contrary to Hollywood, we had a good day. Both towns, as well as several towns in between, including Bray, depend on tourism for much of their income. So there's a financial incentive - and in many cases - zoning laws that force the businesses to respect the traditional format of their storefronts. As an indicator, almost none of the lettering on any of the storefronts in the photos is over 40 years old (several cases are closer to 20), but they tend to use old-fashioned lettering to give the impression that the storefront looks the way it did a century or three ago. One exception to this seems to be the multitude of "Chinese" restaurants, which use the kind of fake Chinese lettering you might have seen in American "Chinatowns" a generation ago.
As another example of this dedication to traditional appearance, we saw at least two structures which were being completely rebuilt, but the storefront itself was being retained in place. To fill the visual gap while the work went on, huge pictures that represented the buildings' upper stories were hung in their place.
That isn't to say that these towns are live-in historical recreations. A block west of Graystone's candy store is a glass and steel shopping center that must have looked very modern whenever it went up (1980s?). It's where the local kids go to buy American-inspired, Chinese-made skater clothes and other cool stuff you can't get on Main Street. Needless to say, we didn't spend any time there.
Although the "Happy Pear" is the least-traditional-looking building of this collection, I included it so any reader who ever gets to Greystones, Wicklow County, Ireland will know that it's a great place to get locally-grown organic fruit, sit-down dining, and expresso. Don't order "American-style" coffee, though - they make it the same way everyone else does in Ireland as far as I can tell - by starting with expresso and watering it down. :-(
Legal Uses and Recommendations for the Photos
You are encouraged to:
If you think of another noncommercial use for these that you'd like to try, contact me me and I may make this list longer:
However, you are not allowed to:
Please stop by every once in a while - we have several other buildings to upload when we get a chance. Again, please contact us if you would like to see more of a particular kind of building.
Note: Family Garden Trains?, Garden Train Store?, Big Christmas Trains?, BIG Indoor Trains?, and BIG Train Store? are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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