James May?s Hornby record attempt is derailed

The latest ?Toy Story? by James May, to build the longest model railway was hit by vandals.
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The latest ?Toy Story? by James May, to build the longest model railway was hit by vandals.

Despite attempts to disrupt the project, the challenge to build a toy railway stretching ten miles from Barnstaple to Bideford, north Devon was completed on the Tarka Trail.

The train stopped about two miles short of its target, however after an unrelated mechanical failure and a spokesman for Guinness World Records said it was unable to make an award.

But the team's work was hampered as parts of the track were taken and coins dropped on the line, blowing the battery. Even the battery was stolen.

Simon Kohler, marketing manager of Hornby model railways, said the 1mph train faltered two miles short of Bideford station.

But said the bid might still break the world record for the longest point-to-point section of track.

Kohler said: “Even though the last locomotive gave up the ghost at Instow, we did link the track.

“I think we are all disappointed because an awful lot of effort went into it and the strength and tenacity of the helpers was simply extraordinary.

”We had spoilsports who stole parts of the track and at one point someone used two pence coins to create problems and blow the train's battery, but we refused to let it ruin things. It's sad, but it was a really brave effort.”

About 60 different community groups were involved in the effort, who had been briefed in Barnstaple by the Top Gear presenter.

The attempt will be shown later this year on May's Toy Stories on BBC2.

When launching the record attempt, May said the choice of location was no accident. “I picked here [the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford] because people want to see it rebuilt. Plus, the scenery is beautiful here. Call it a service to the community and its people.”

May continued: "I was amazed and touched by the amount of people who turned up on the day just to see my toy train go past."

A spokesperson for the BBC said there would be no attempt to repeat the train journey because the main aim of the stunt, to lay the longest model railway track, had been achieved.