The big Warley MRC show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham didn’t clash with Stuttgart this year. So less than a week after returning from Germany, I was off to Birmingham.
I forgot my camera, so I’ve no detailed record of the layouts, just my thoughts from the day. But for those who would like to see a few pictures:
- The Daily Telegraph has a set of photographs that nicely capture the atmosphere of the show (not the same atmosphere as discussed on the N-Gauge forum thread describing lack of deodorant and back packs at Warley). The pictures are mostly of larger scale models, and there are a couple of dodgy captions, but it’s a good record.
- Said N-Gauge Forum thread has some photos of the N-gauge layouts and trade products (on later pages after the chit-chat).
- Discussion and a few photographs on RMweb.
My day started on the 7:18 from Redhill to Victoria, meeting up with Peter and Malcolm, two retired work colleagues, but still (amazingly) good friends. A transfer across central London on the Victoria line left plenty of time for the first coffee of the day at Euston. Then north to Birmingham on a Virgin Trains Pendolino unit. First time I’d travelled on one of these. I was very impressed by the high speeds and the noticeable tilting of the body on bends. Less impressive was the lack of elbow-room due to the narrowing body to allow it to tilt. It seemed like the railway equivalent of Concorde.
We arrived at the show before 10:30, and after identifying the coffee stand and arranging a meeting point for lunch – simple, ‘See where it says “BAR”‘, I set off around the show. General impressions were that they had rented some extra hall space, and left wide corridors between exhibits – a most welcome improvement since I last was there. I made the mistake of starting by circumnavigating the outside of the show, and was left wondering where the 96 layouts were. This was because they were grouped together, mainly in blocks, and mostly in the middle of the hall.
However, there was plenty to look at in the trade, though little to buy. I later discovered that my ESNG club-mates were shovelling (literally in one case) continental coaches into their bags at £5 a time. I have no interest in German railways (although I was tempted by a ‘Flying Hamburger’ yet again in Stuttgart.) There was an excellent group of ‘Small Suppliers’ stands selling interesting bits and pieces. And I was again sorely tempted by an ‘O’ gauge Dapol Terrier, and by the ‘O’ gauge Heljan modern image stock. Their Deltic may cost £500, but it is a wonderful model. In the end, I picked up a UK parcels van and 4 US Microtrains wagons.
Soon time for lunch and a pint and pulled pork roll. I think Peter only visits model railway shows for culinary items that he is not allowed at home. Then off to explore the layouts. There were good groups of ‘O’ gauge, narrow gauge, TT, Irish and American layouts, with plenty of everything else in between. A tap on my shoulder was Cha(I)rman Allan, suggesting a cup of something. I found the other ESNG members there, so the 6 of us sat and compared purchases.
It’s difficult to think of standout layouts. There was a lot of very good modelling on show, but some of the best models seemed to be having too many derailments. I think my two favourite layouts were the two circular ones on display. I really like this format. ‘Brafferton’ was a 6′ diameter 2mm fine scale branch line. ‘Circle Line’ was even smaller, a simple double tracked modern image layout just 4’3” in diameter. I’d probably have to go on a diet to operate it from the inside.
Our journey home was very quick, 2 1/4 hours door to door. A Virgin Trains diesel unit took us south to Watford Junction, where we changed onto the West London line and a Southern train down to Clapham Junction. From there it was a train to Redhill, and I was fortunate enough to walk straight onto a bus home.
All in all a good day out with good friends. The Warley show seemed a lot better than last time I went, when I was slightly disappointed. ESNG are exhibiting again in 2 weeks time, but after that I think I shall give up model railway shows till well into the new year – and try and build something of my own!