Founded in 1936 by a small group of enthusiastic Model Engineers, the Birmingham Society of Model Engineers has grown through the past seventy years, to become a club with one of the largest memberships in the United Kingdom. The aim of the Society is simple: to bring together people from all walks of life who share a common interest in model engineering and its heritage, in miniature.

Aerial view of the BSME site, courtesy of Google Earth.

The excellent facilities at Illshaw Heath; tracks, clubhouse and extensive grounds, offer great encouragement to the member wishing to put their model engineering ideas into practice; either the popular steam locomotives and traction engines, industrial and marine models or special tools and miniature components. There are two kidney shaped tracks for the larger steam locomotives. A 1112 ft. dual gauge 5/7.25” gauge ground level track and raised 1041 ft dual gauge 5/3.5” gauge track. Both tracks are controlled by an extensive signalling system. Footbridges and a brick built, double arched tunnel span the two tracks. Stations, paved platforms, signal boxes, steaming bays and an engine shed serve the two circuits. In addition to the tracks for the larger gauges, there is a raised track of approximately 180ft. for Gauge 0, and 450ft for Gauge 1 and 16mm locomotives.

A large purpose built clubhouse, having comfortable accommodation occupies an elevated position overlooking the tracks and ground. It is equipped with a kitchen to provide refreshments for the members and visitors. Strict codes of conduct are laid down to ensure complete safety in all the Society's activities, with particular consideration given to the children of members and visitors.

A willing interchange of engineering expertise and advice is always apparent between members, who have, collectively, a vast fund of knowledge and experience. Supporting this shared knowledge, the Society have a fine library of technical and historical books which provide research data for member's design and construction projects All members receive a regular newsletter containing articles of interest, reports on meetings and exhibitions, as well as detailed programmes of the Society's future activities. The Society is affiliated to the Northern, Midland and Southern Federation of Model Engineering Societies, thus maintaining wider development of the hobby and allowing members to participate in joint functions. Management of the club is undertaken by a sixteen strong, elected committee who, besides presiding over the usual individual offices, form various sub-committees to organize and oversee civil and mechanical engineering matters, as well as financial, social plans and procedures and other aspects of the life of the Society.

Meetings are held at Illshaw Heath, throughout the year, on Wednesdays (all day) and Sunday afternoons. The Wednesday meeting are of particular interest to our retired members and those currently not in work. On the Winter Wednesday evening meetings, lectures, film shows and competitions are presented. Purely social functions are arranged periodically so that members and their families can meet and relax together. During the summer months, outings to places of interest are organised and also visits to other similar societies in the United Kingdom. Competitions and trials are held throughout the summer months, for the best workmanship, performance and other standards of excellence in the various classes.

Membership - The Society has approximately 110 members at present and new members are welcome to join us at any time.  We would recommend, prospective members make the initial contact via our Membership Secretary, using the appropriate form on the Contacts page. He will give you all the information you require.   We are especially interested in expanding our already active Junior Section. Young persons up to the age of 18 can join as a Junior Member and this would include Associate Membership for one parent/guardian. Attendance by a younger Junior Member, without supervision is not permitted, in order to comply with Child Protection rules.

Perhaps before applying for membership, you might like to visit us at the ground for a few weeks, to see what goes on and get the feel of the Society, new members must have their application form, proposed and seconded and this is a good way for us to get to know you. Our Committee meets on a bi-monthly basis to oversee the running of the Society and deal with membership applications, so that generally you would be known to members and the committee, by the time your application is considered. 

We look forward to meeting you.