The books

Model Railway Companion (due 2024)

Model Railway Companion will be a collection of my own and others layout projects. Some famous names and others from friends, all presented in full colour, full page imagery, introductions from each artist but heavy on inspiration rather than instruction. I'm very excited about the format and can't wait to see what people think. 

Now in print - due late summer 2024

RRP £14.50 

Published and printed in the UK by Wild Swan.

The Art of Railway Modelling

In this book, James Hilton develops the ideas and themes of his earlier "Small Layout Design Handbook" around the notion that we could, or perhaps even should, consider and talk about our model creations in terms of their being "art". He starts off by explaining what he means and then considers how we construct and approach our models from an "artistic" perspective. Over half the book consists of newly developed layout themes, considered here as "stage sets", covering a wide range of prototype themes, including North American ideas and prototypes.

Published and printed in the UK by Wild Swan.

Small Layout Design Handbook

In this book James Hilton takes a fresh look at small layouts and how to design them. Profusely illustrated with photographs, sketches and plans, the book takes us through completed projects, design considerations and sources of inspiration before presenting 24 practical layout ideas to either follow or provide inspiration for your own ideas. Themes and prototypes considered are wide ranging, covering narrow gauge, industrial and some North American and International subjects too. A thought provoking read, thinking as widely as Iain Rice and with ideas as novel and inspiring as those of the late and much missed Carl Arend. This book really does demonstrate that small in size does not mean small in ambition or enjoyment! This is a very minorly revised reprint of the original book.

Published and printed in the UK by Wild Swan.


The Compendium is a 40 page collection of thoughts and ideas, a series of modelling essays. A safe place to escape the digital monolith, tactile and grounding. Not quite a greatest hits, not a regular magazine but somewhere to put meaningful ideas, as much for myself as to share with you all.

Sold out - Limited to 60 copies.

£15 including UK Delivery.

Published by James Hilton Custom Model Railways, printed by Blurb in the Netherlands.

In preparation…
Small Layout Design Companion
Compendium 2