Published: 10:05, 11 August 2020
| Updated: 10:20, 11 August 2020
A model railway centre has closed after a new tenant was found for its site.
The Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre - or AIMREC - had been searching for a home for years, with successive possible locations being used by other projects.
Originally intended for the Klondyke railway works in Newtown, planning permission was eventually granted for homes to be built on the land.
After more than six years of waiting for an opportunity, a temporary showroom aimed at highlighting the centre's potential opened in the £75m Elwick Place leisure complex.
Opening in December, it featured the model layouts by the Railmen of Kent - the winners of Channel 5's Great Model Railway Challenge.
Unfortunately, though it proved popular, the Covid-19 pandemic began and on March 12 AIMREC closed to protect its members' health.
It has now closed for good after a new tenant was found.
A statement issued on Sunday read: "It is with great disappointment that we vacated Unit 2 in Elwick Place in July, after a period of closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, during which our landlord secured a long-term tenant.
"In the three months between the start of December and first weekend in March, we welcomed more than 3,000 visitors to see the layouts on display and gained operating experience and visitor feedback that are helping shape our plans for the future."
The statement notes the centre's aim to host a promotional evening with its supporters - who include Roger Daltrey and Jools Holland - had not been able to be fulfilled.
However all hope is not lost, as the letter notes optimistic progress towards finding a more permanent home.
It reads: "While the groundfloor of the former Debenhams unit remains our long-term objective, a search for new premises to re-establish the marketing suite in Ashford's town centre is underway.
"A potential location has been identified and outline plans are being developed for discussion with the property owners."
It is not yet known what will replace AIMREC at Elwick Place.