Today I enjoyed a pleasant day out at the London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace in the company of Peter and Malcolm, ex-work colleagues. It’s a simple journey from Redhill to north London – train to Victoria, Victoria line underground to Finsbury Park, then two stops on the Kings Cross suburban lines to Ally Pally. And lastly a long haul for 1/2 a mile up the hill to the Palace. Not as steep as the short walk up from the car parks, but enough to leave Peter trundling along behind us. The time for the journey was a very respectable 90 minutes, and it passed quickly with the usual Binnie & Partners engineering reminiscences – worst hotel I’ve stayed in, worst stomach upset, where to catch malaria or dengue fever in SE Asia, worst work colleague…..
We strolled into the show on pre-booked tickets at 9:45am, and the first impression was more space, less exhibits and less people than previous years. That may have been unfair, as the show guide showed that a couple of layouts had dropped out, and I think there were more N-gauge and/or small layouts on display, that take up less space. And there were some very good models on display. Biggest shock was Bachmann not selling any rolling stock on their stand. Someone said that at 9:30am here was a rush into the hall, turn left, and head for Bachmann – then utter confusion as there were no bargains to buy!
As for the layouts, I’ll work up the scales over the next couple of posts. First we have 2mm fine scale. Lambourn is an old, pioneering, 2mm layout, now being given a new lease of life and a little upgrading. This end view shows how 2mm and N allow realistic treatment of a station, but also shows how 2mm track looks good, even end on.
Hall Quay is a small layout (2/3 of it shown below) modelling Great Yarmouth in 1910. There’s even a 3′ 6″ gauge tram system passing through the scene. Typically, I missed any action when I took this shot. I remember Hall Quay from the 1960’s, when my cousin was a curate in Yarmouth, but it was run down with no railway interest by then.
Tucking Mill is a gem of a layout, a small terminus on the North Somerset Light Railway with a short platform and plenty of goods sidings. It is usually operated by small tank locos that run impeccably and is an inspiration to try something similar (with and Isle of Wight flavour in my case. I picked up a bargain IOW Terrier at the show to tempt me in that direction.)
Next N gauge. Barnstoneworth is a small, 8′, layout, but it is full of attractive scenery like these road and rail bridges. It is inspired by a real station at New Mills Central, and trains get realistically lost in the landscape, as with this green DMU below.
Horsethief Bridge is a perhaps typical US style ‘trains in the landscape’ layout. But the landscape of Washington state (not Washington DC) is well observed, and watching double-stack container trains amble through the scenery is very satisfying.
In contrast, Stapleford St Stephen’s and Newcastle by the water are typical large UK modern-image N gauge layouts. Lots of action and trains to watch, and some nice modelling, but I wonder whether realism has been overtaken by entertainment. Mind you, standing on Alexandra Palace station later, there was a procession of Virgin Trains and Great Northern local stock, EMUs and DMU passing in the few minutes we were waiting for our train. Perhaps it’s just that these layouts are just too ‘clean’ for the UK in 2016?
And finally today, TT scale. Redford Junction is an imaginary station in a real place, somewhere in deepest Sussex, in LBSCR, then Southern, county. TT is the greatest scale that never lived. It’s big enough to scratch-build, but small enough for a compact layout. The shame was that it started with 12mm, 4′ scale gauge track. But Redford Junction illustrates what can be don, and all those lovely Southern locomotives and EMUs are scratch-built.
Next time, layouts in 3.5mm and 4mm scales, with a range of gauges.