Sir Rod Stewart hired seven shipping containers to transport his beloved model railway from his Los Angeles house to Essex.
The 'Maggie May' hitmaker is keen to spend more time at his house in Essex, but didn't want to be parted from his favourite hobby, so has had the 1,500sq ft model railway carefully packaged and moved 5,454 miles from Los Angeles to his current base. An insider said: “The kids go to school in the UK and he wants to see them grow up so wants to spend more time here.” Rod previously revealed he spent 26 years creating his incredible WW2 Manhattan, New York, replica called 'Grant Street And Three Rivers City' in the attic of his Los Angeles home.
He said: "It's the landscape I like. Attention to detail, extreme detail is paramount. There shouldn't be any unsightly gaps or pavements that are too clean." The intricate display features a running railway station, period cars, lorries, along with several classic American city scenes, including a 1940s inspired Pennsylvania Railroad scene, making the model 124ft long and 23 ft wide. Rod also added a tribute to his British roots with an ode to his lifelong support of Scottish soccer team Celtic FC by incorporating a Celtic Coal & Steel firm building on the tracks.
Rod - who is married to Lady Penny Lancaster-Stewart - began his model railway when he first moved into his Beverly Hills mansion in 1993 but he admitted he would never have embarked on the project if he'd realised how long it would take. He added: "I have to give it 110 per cent. For me it's addictive. I started, so I just had to finish. But if I had realised at the start it would have taken so long, I'd have probably said No! No! Nah!" The 'Sailing' rocker also admitted he takes his passion on tour with him as he books extra hotel rooms to store his prize possessions while he puts together kits and paints parts. Rod said: "We'd tell them in advance and they were really accommodating, taking out the beds and providing fans to improve air circulation and ventilation."
He unveiled it as part of an interview with Railway Modeller magazine. He then phoned in to Jeremy Vine's BBC Radio 2 show to rebuff the host's suggestion he had not built it himself.
"I would say 90% of it I built myself," he insisted. "The only thing I wasn't very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that."
Sir Rod has released 13 studio albums and been on 19 tours during the time it took to build the city, which is modelled on both New York and Chicago around 1945.
"A lot of people laugh at it being a silly hobby, but it's a wonderful hobby," he said.