The dream took some time to realise, though, as it is now 35 years since Tom decided to build his own miniature steam engine and nine since it was finished, with some help from fellow enthusiasts.
On Sunday, Tom and his engine driving colleagues will build up a huge head of steam for the Castledare Miniature Railways 50th birthday bash.
People who go to Wilson will relive the glory of bygone days of steam on the 5km of rideable railway tracks, believed to be the longest miniature railway in the southern hemisphere.
Tom’s loco, based on the famous British Railways LMS ‘Black Fives’ were fire-breathing, 75-tonne behemoths, a ‘do-anything, go-anywhere’ type designed by William Stanier in the 1930s.
It will, along with many others, haul ‘super trains’ involving three locomotives coupled together carrying up to 50 passengers at a time around the track.
Passengers will be issued with a commemorative souvenir ticket to mark the occasion.
About seven years ago, the miniature railway welcomed its one-millionth passenger and is well on the way to its second million.
Castledare was established in 1963 by four miniature railway enthusiasts after getting the blessing of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, who ran the former Castledare Boys’ Home.
The prime mover was Keith Watson, of Rossmoyne, who will be a guest of honour at the 50th birthday celebrations.