Category Archives: Outings and Shows

Visit to: Swindon Railway Festival , September 2016

Today I am going to take you on a retrospective adventure to the Swindon Railway Festival, which I visited on the 11th September at Swindon’s STEAM – Museum of The Great Western Railway.

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I had just returned from a trip to somewhere or other (as I often do) and I was not sure I had the energy to go to the event, but in the end I’m really glad I made the effort.

With Swindon’s ongoing celebrations as part of Swindon 175 there was a strong emphasis on GWR heritage across the full breadth of the GWRs history, including South Wales coal lines, Cornish branch lines and, of course, the surrounds of Swindon itself.

Stand out layouts at the show included Porth St John; a beautiful depiction of Cornwall in the 1930s. I loved the representation of the mudflats beneath the elaborate blue bridge and the fishing nets.

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Photo by Sumita Majumdar

Ynysbwl Fach was also fun to watch and a rarely modelled example of a private coal yard. I think it is maybe the first exhibition layout I have seen that is based on a South Wales colliery. I was even treated to a pronunciation demonstration of the layout’s name (I was close with my first attempt, but didn’t quite get it).

Swindon Model Railway Club’s Fisherbridge was also in attendance with its new collection of 1980s N Gauge rolling stock.

Here is a video from the day:

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Visit to: The National Festival of Railway Modelling, Peterborough

Last weekend I visited a model exhibition I have been wanting to go to for years: The National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough.

Finding myself with a weekend with ‘no plans’ I thought I would take the long drive from Swindon (not actually as long as I thought) and take a look.

The first layout I looked at was the N-Gauge ‘Grange-Over-Sands’, with its well represented saltmarsh habitat spanning the front of the layout. I spend a lot of time in my day job studying saltmarsh habitat, so I paid special attention to the little creeks and different patches of vegetation.

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I think ‘Oulton TMD’ (OO-Gauge) was one of my favourite models at the exhibition. It was such a large model and I liked how it was a busy layout, but didn’t look cluttered. I could have spent much longer looking at that one.

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‘Ludlow’ was probably my favourite layout of the show. An N-gauge layout with plenty of sprawling landscape and an assortment of traffic running through the valley on the main line. I really liked the track plan of this layout and it has given me some ideas for a future N-gauge project.

‘Up The Line’ was a very interesting WWI layout built in 16mm narrow gauge. The sound of the distant thump of bombs added to the ambience of this model. I particularly liked the ambulance train (ambience and an ambulance in so many words).

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Another N-gauge model I really liked was ‘Barton Road’ set around London somewhere in the late 60s and included plenty of west country stock (my favourite). It is built in a fascinating ‘T’ shaped arrangement with the off scene fiddle yard placed in the centre of the ‘T’. This allows trains to run off scene at two ends of the ‘T’ and then stock cassettes are swapped to each off-scene area. I really like the arrangement, but, for me, it might need a bit too much concentration to control at a show.

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I also have to mention the BRM Magazine project layout Ruston Quays, what a lovely little model. It shows how much you can do with limited space.

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I got the chance to see a couple of DJM models that had passed me by in my months away from modelling. I saw the Class 71 and would like to keep telling myself I don’t need one in my life, but it looked and sounded great. I also saw the new J94 Austerity which also looks like a brilliant model. There is a nice yellow NCB one that was previously an RMweb exclusive and is now being sold by Kernow (it would look great with a bit of weathering).

So all in all, an enjoyable show. It seemed that every time I filmed a train it cast a curse on the tracks and things would crash or stall, but with a bit of editing I managed to get a decent film out of my footage. Here it is:

Brewery Pit at the Chasewater Brewery Locomotive Day

Last Sunday (12th July) I had a great time exhibiting my OO Gauge layout: Brewery Pit at the Chasewater Railway in Staffordshire. The exhibit was included as part of the railways Burton Brewery Locomotive Day.

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Brewery Pit was set up in the Chasewater engine shed where visitors could stop by to photograph the real brewery engines and stock. There is a steam sentinel in the shed, which is of the same design as the one I am building as part of the Five Shunter Challenge. This particular one once worked at the Walsall Gas Works and was apparently the last of its design to be built.

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It was raining at the start of the day, but when the sun broke out at lunch time the crowds of visitors soon followed and enjoyed cab rides and vintage truck displays and the beer tent.

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2015-07-12 13.39.13PSLRIt was great to see Brewery Pit pulling a good crowed, particularly at lunch time. Me and my wife foolishly tried to scoff a full English breakfast as the largest group of visitors arrived to watch the trains run along the layout. I attempted to multi-task, but I admit that the breakfast did go cold.

It was nice to see so many children captivated by the little trains shunting on Brewery Pit. One child insisted that the tram engines were moving too slowly. I tried to explain that they are speed-regulated to 40mph, but I don’t think the child in question was that interested in my justification. One 3-year-old visited three times and had to be dragged away by his Mom.

2015-07-12 13.39.37PSLRI also met up with Joe Stamper and his Dad who brought along their vintage Bass truck for the day. Joe also brought along his delightful model of the Neilson, Reid & Co 0-4-0ST Steam Locomotive that operated in the Bass Breweries in Burton. He tells me that he still has some work to do to it (including replacing the dome). I took some photos of it with some brewery wagons and it really looks the business. Joe has done a great job on the paint work. I’m looking forward to seeing the completed version.

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I was really pleased how many people told me that I had captured the ‘feel’ of Burton-upon-Trent. I only ever see the layout as something that needs ‘more work’, so it is great to get some positive feedback. Many people also asked whether the layout was N-gauge, which doesn’t surprise me as the large buildings at the rear of the layout dwarf the little OO-gauge locos.

My favourite comments from the event were:

  • Toby doesn’t have a face – said by a child watching the J70.
  • Where is Toby’s face? – said by another child watching the Y6.
  • That tram best not have a face! – said by an adult while watching the J70.

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The best bit of the show was watching the brewery engines fire up in the shed and move out outside while we were test running the layout (we then had to wipe the diesel fumes off the track).

See the video below:

I hope that I get to attend next year.

Upcoming shows: Brewery Pit at Chasewater Railway in Staffordshire (Sunday 12th July)

Brewery Pit will be at the Burton Brewery Locomotives Day on Sunday 12th July 2015 at the Chasewater Railway in Staffordshire. Full details of the event can be found here:

http://www.chasewaterrailway.co.uk/news/burton-brewery-day-12th-july-2015/

The Chasewater Railway is in Brownhills and you can plan your visit with the details below:

http://www.chasewaterrailway.co.uk/plan-your-visit/how-to-find-us/

Burton Locomotives Day

The breweries of Burton were an important influence on the architecture of Brewery Pit so it will be nice to see the layout among some of the locos that once worked in the area.

In preparation for the Chasewater Railway event, I set up the layout for the first time since the Swindon Model Railway Exhibition to check everything was running okay. Sadly the glue that keeps the fiddle yard cassettes fixed together corroded away the plastic base and the cassettes have deconstructed themselves. I have already glued one back together, so it shouldn’t cause any issues for the show.

I also added some additional LED lights to the front of the layout. All the lights Make the layout look like it is invaded by giant alien snakes.

I hope I see some of at the Chasewater Railway on Sunday 12 July. Brewery Pit will be in the heritage centre. Please do come over for a chat.

Two Model Railway Show Reviews + Pictures & Videos

February-May is the peak season for model railway shows and I try my best to visit a few each year. This blog entry covers two recent show visits: the Basingstoke Model Railway Show, Berkshire and last weekend’s Trainwest held in Melkham, Wiltshire.

Basingstoke Model Railway Show
The main thing I noticed at both shows was the increasing number of high quality n-gauge/2mm layouts. It is clear that this scale has come into its own in the past few years. The quality of modelling on layouts like Freshwater and Dentdale were stunning. The Class 33 diesel on Freshwater had a wonderful weathered finish.

Here are some photo highlights:

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

It was also nice to see the Heljan/Hattons Beyer Garratt pulling a giant train of coal trucks around the Newbury Clubs Falkland Vale.

It was also great to finally see Fisherton Sarum in person.

I gave into temptation at the Basingstoke show and purchased a new DCC control system for Brewery Pit, in the form of a Power Cab. I was very surprised at how cheap this system actually was.

Trainwest

This was my first visit to Trainwest in Melkham, Wiltshire. Having recently moved to Swindon, this is now one of my local shows. I was very impressed by the high quality of exhibiting layouts. Each layout was exquisite.

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

It was good to grab Giles attention from his layout (End of The Line) to talk about mini RC Cars and it was also nice to say hello to Golden Arrow Kits in person (and talk Bulleid Leader).

It is difficult for me to pick a favourite layout from Trainwest, but I must admit that I really enjoyed watching the transition era (late 1960s and early 1970s) diesels whizzing around Highbridge Road, a real treat. This is a period that is rarely modelled and one that I also hope to capture in miniature one day.

Also of note was Galatia, KS, which looked very realistic. Most impressive was the transition from the road crossing to the backscene. The telegraph poles and aspect were very effective at fooling the eye into believing there is a long straight road running off into the distance.

I would also like to give honourable mention to the biennial Narrow Gauge South, which I missed this year. I would have liked to have gone, but I had far too much relaxing at home to do.

Here are the two videos of the show:

Basingstoke Model Railway Show 2014

Trainwest 2014

Newbury Model Railway Show 2014

Last weekend I visited my local show… well, now I think about it, the Newbury Model Railway Show is no longer my ‘local’, but it matters little.

Here is my video of the show:

I certainly got 100% value out of my £4 entry ticket.

There was some impressive modelling on show. I think I will have difficulty choosing my favourite from the following layouts.

Red Hook Bay

This is an American HO gauge layout set in the 1940s. This model really captures a busy dock-scene. Something that many layouts try to achieve, but don’t always succeed. The attention to little details is brilliant. The ice-blocks on the quay being one of my favourite elements. The extra realism provided by laser-cut buildings was also quite prominent on this layout.

The Wantage Tramway

The Wantage Tramway is a OO9 gauge layout micro layout and is very attractive. I should have really asked what motors were underneath some of the locos as they had some very impressive running qualities. The small steam tram had some amazing slow gearing. The coaches were well made too. The layout of the buildings was also attractive to the eye. The layout performed faultlessly for the video camera.

Dawes Creek

This is an Australian N gauge layout, representing Victoria State in the 1970s and 1980s. I think the stand-out aspect of this layout is the backscene and how well it integrates into the layout. The backscene is hand painted and easily competes with modern photo backscenes. The low horizon really gives a feeling of plain country. The gradual change from model terrain to backscene beneath the timber bridge is really amazing. With sounds and well spaced structures, I think this layout inches to the top of my favourite list.

Other highlights

I was so pleased to finally see a ‘Maker-Bot 2‘ in person. What an amazing machine. It was much smaller and cleaner than I was expecting and I was surprised at the quality and rigidity of the models printed on the device.

I also had a close look at ‘t gauge’ on the Robin’s Run layout. I didn’t realise that t gauge could be so affordable. I will definitely give this some further thought and join the t gauge forum.

I also enjoyed an introduction to making model trees that will come in very useful on Brewery Pit.

Purchase-wise, I managed to avoid shelling out on more locomotives (I have a mortgage to pay these days), but I did manage to buy some tools missing from my arsenal and a set of high quality modelling books on buildings, scenery and loco building. Unfortunately, the rain was so terrible that it soaked the cover of one of my books when we left the show which caused some anxiousness later in the day, but I am happy to report that although a bit wavy in places, the book is okay.

Thanks Newbury MRC for getting me back in a modelling mood.

Visit to Model Rail Live 2013

On 21st September, I visited Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire for Model Rail Magazines exhibition. The venue was a large metal industrial-type unit, which afforded lots of space for layouts and traders.

There were lots of models on display, with some really impressive large layouts. I must admit that some of my favourites were of the smaller variety. Sparkle, was probably my favourite: which is a HO Gauge, German layout set in winter. The barren trees are very effective, and the subtle use of glitter also adds a lot to the overall winter scene. Plus there were some nice little steam locos on show.

It was also nice to see Deepcar again, which now features some newer motive power in the form of Olivia’s Trains EM1s. One of the highlights of the exhibition was seeing two LMS garratt’s passing each other on Radford Mill; I was lucky enough to film it (does this make me a model-train spotter?).

My second favourite layout was ‘The end of the line’ which featured a standard gauge siding with a narrow gauge system loading up the trucks. There was even a moving flat-loader truck (which inspired my current workbench project: a 4mm radio control car).
Exhibiting at a show like this must be quite a challenge. It is something that I have considered doing, but I’m in no rush to dive-in.

Below is my video of the show.