Tag Archives: Model Railway Exhibitions

Warley 2010

I’ve been going to the Warley model railway exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham for years now. It’s a big commercial show with huge crowds rather than one of the more friendly local or specialist shows, but it’s size means it’s a also a gathering of people you haven’t met for years.

There were a lot of great layouts in all sorts of scales, eras and nationalities. I know some people are only interested in layouts in their own gauge, or aren’t interested in anything outside of a certain region or era, but that way you can miss out on some great modelling.

“Aberdare” was one such example. This was a pre-grouping Taff Vale in finescale 4mm, with a very interesting track plan, and the strange loco depot design with two separate engine sheds because of the narrow site in the Welsh valleys. Another one I liked was the compact HO Danish layout “Havnegade”, set in the late 1960s, reminding me of a family holiday in Denmark around that time, with GM Nohabs in the original maroon livery and those distinctive 5-axle diesel railcars. Closer to my own modelling interests was “Loch Lochy”, making it’s exhibition debut, Scottish blue diesel N, very nicely modelled. And in 7mm scale, a massive “parade of trains” style layout of Barmouth Bridge. Somewhat truncated of course; the real bridge is nearly a mile long!

I also loved the TT3 layout – This was very much not a detailed finescale model, but very typical of the sorts of layouts people built in the 60s and 70s. Indeed, it reminded me very much of a layout I built around that time! My TT3 stock is still in my parents’ loft somewhere!

One of the big hits of the show was “Blackmill”, a large contemporary layout based on Blackburn in Lancashire, so popular you couldn’t get near it all day. Even at 4:30 in the afternoon, at a time when the crowd starts to thin out, it three deep in front of this layout. Ditto the Model Railway Club’s massive “Copenhagen Fields”, 20 years in the building and still far from finished.

Bridport Town

While I’m not really into narrow-gauge steam layouts, Bridport Town is one I’ll make an exception for. While fictitious, it has a verisimilitude that all too many narrow gauge layout lack. I think one element, apart from the superb level of modelling, is that all the locomotive fleet doesn’t include anything that’s uniquely associated with a specific British line. For example, the 4-4-0T is (I think) a proposed but unbuilt design by Hunslet for the Lynton and Barnstable. And those ex-War Department Baldwin 4-6-0Ts ran on a great many lines.

Sadly my bank balance too a bit of a hammering; Messrs Dapol and Bachmann had too many shiny things on sale, including the new Mk1 coaches and some weathered Silver Bullets.

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Burning the Candle at Both Ends

The downside of having a very busy day is you feel completely shattered on the next. This is what happens when you go to a model railway exhibition and a gig on the same day, and the first of those is two hours travel away.

I missed the Derby show last year for family reasons. This year it’s moved a different date, and moved out of it’s old home at The Assembly Rooms become the latest show to move to a dismal sports hall on the fringes of town. If you’re one of the minority of visitors that travels to shows by train, this is almost always a bad thing; rather than a location within walking distance of the main railway station, you have an extra half-hour’s travel each way by bus to get to the place. It’s why I don’t go to the Nottingham show any more; that one always such a pig to get to I’ve decided it’s not worth the effort.

Saying that, despite the hall lacking the character of the old Assembly Rooms, they still had a good selection of layouts and traders. Derby always emphasises non-British modelling, and there was a selection of French, Swiss, German, American and Canadian layouts as well as British outline. The simple but effective “Glenrothes North Junction” flew the flag for British N, a slice of 1990s central Scotland.

The traders did my credit card too some serious damage, with a lot of continental rolling stock doing it GBH in the first few minutes. The long-awaited Kato Swiss RIC stock is finally out at truly eye-watering prices, and last years modern Minitrix wagons have finally appeared, including the long tarpaulin-roofed flat. This is one of those 1:160 models of a continental loading-gauge prototype that happily scales very close to a 1:148 representation of an equivalent British gauge version. And I also picked up a Dapol InterCity livery DVT. There was also a Dapol 66 in DRS “Compass” livery which lunged at my credit card but missed, because I’d spent enough money by then.

Then it was a three hour journey by bus, two trains, a tram, and a lengthy walk across central Manchester to Bury for the latest date of Mostly Autumn’s spring tour. I’ve seen this band so many times that it’s not just the band, but their siblings, parents and significant others who are greeting me by name!

Mostly Autumn have been on blindingly good form on this tour, and tonight’s gig was no exception. Having Gavin Griffiths back on drums seems to have lifted the energy of the live performance to a new levelĀ  And I don’t think I’ve ever seen Heather as enthusiastic or as animated before this tour; she’s also on spectacular form vocally, and dominates the stage visually. Bury has always been a good venue to see the band, great atmosphere and good acoustics; just about the best sound balance I’ve heard on this tour; every voice and instrument clearly heard in the mix, and nobody so loud that they drowned out anyone else.

Still another half-dozen dates left on this tour; the next gig is next Saturday at Bilston in the Black Country, followed by appearances at Southampton, Tavistock, Oxford, Gloucester and Norwich. I’m planning on going to three of these. If you like powerful 70s-style melodic rock with a bit of celtic-flavoured prog thrown into the mix, you really ought to go to one of these.

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