Tag Archives: models

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.


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.



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:

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.


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.


‘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).


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.


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.


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:

Re-designing the workbench

Currently on my workbench is… well… my workbench.


The workbench I have used for the past few years is a cheapo laminated chipboard job from Argos. The former office desk was forced into the role of being my modelling desk when we moved to Newbury in 2008. It has now taken a fair amount of abuse from my modelling torture kit, so it is only right that it continues in its role in my new house (until I accidentally cut in half or something or other).

In my new house the desk will be up against a radiator and I already suffer frequent losses of small items to the carpet monster (that darn carpet monster!!!).  I was also quite concerned that I will now loose small items down into the inside of the radiator. I decided that I would install a backing to my desk that will hopefully prevent small items from ‘pinging’ away.

I purchased x3 framed cork note boards from Staples and went about screwing them onto the back of the desk. Being lazy, I decided to screw them onto brackets and let the boards hang off the desk (as oppose to cutting the boards and mounting them on the top of the desk). There was still an annoying gap between the cork boards and the desk when they were screwed down so I tacked down some white ‘L’ shaped plastic to cover up the gap.


Now I will hopefully see a significant reduction in my time spent crawling under my desk looking for small brass bearings. The added bonus is that I can now use the cork to pin up instructions and notes, which will be very helpful.


The Housing Crash

I have recently completed my big move from a one bedroom flat in Newbury to a three bedroom house in Swindon.

Moving is never fun and I tried hard to ensure that Brewery Pit could be transported safely. I can’t fit the layout in my car so I allowed the removal people to take it in their truck (after having removed all of the buildings).


Unfortunately, there was a disaster involving the housing estate, which suffered a scale 200 m drop to it’s death. All of the buildings made from Linka casts were destroyed, but the Bachmann ready-to-plant ones survived. Ironically it wasn’t the removal people that did the damage but me leaving the estate precariously on top of a wardrobe (I should have known what was going to happen).

This is a shame, but I was considering changing the Linka cast houses for better models, so maybe it is a blessing in disguise.