Last Saturday I drove over to Bracknell to visit the Spring expoEM. I have never insisted on exhibitions having any ‘N’ gauge, so an excellent show like this an easy drive away was a must. There were some very good layouts on show – of course mostly branch lines without a procession of trains, that wouldn’t please some people – and some good modelling demonstrations. Most layouts were, of course, fine scale 4mm layouts, but expo EM always have one visiting layout and society stand from another scale. A nice idea, that perhaps ESNG could emulate?
Portchullin (P4) perfectly captures the west coast of Scotland and the Kyle Line. I love the sheep standing on the siding and the red and blue MacBrayne’s bus in the station yard. Both give a real sense of place!
Cheddar (P4) is some ways a pretty standard BLT (branch line terminus, not the alterative, the model railway enthusiast’s standard sandwich), but it is very well modelled. The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway is an attractive prototype, in a pretty part of the country that models rather well.
What can you say about LLanastr (P4)? This little layout is only 6′ x 2′, and is now 30 years old. It was a ground-breaking layout in the way that it replaced three points by using the fiddle yard sector plate. So we have a tiny model of a Brecon & Merthyr Railway that seems quite spacious. I’ve attached an aerial photograph that shows the clever track plan (devised even before Iain Rice got into cunning layout designs.) Only catch might be that the layout is hard work to operate. From the show guide:
Please ask questions as a little conversation is very welcome to break up the monotony of operating the same two points and three lateritious engines all day.
But for a little home layout allowing an hour’s pleasant shunting and operation, what could be better? (OK, you can model the WCML in ‘N’…..)
North Ballachulish (EM) is another west coast Scottish layouts. No trains about when I took the photograph, but the bus was in motion, driving down the road!
Horsebridge Wharf (EM) is at the other end of the country, somewhere on the PDSWJR around Plymouth and Callngton. Locally correct steam was on show with ‘A S Harris’ 756 and an E1R class on the passenger train. They were having typical exhibition problems as I passed by – layout worked perfectly all week, but there was a dodgy point as soon as the show opened.
I had seen Hebble Vale Goods (EM) before, but one reason for going to the show was to have another look. A lovely shunting layout set around Halifax in the late 1970’s, with some very good industrial buildings.
Visiting layout was Addison Park – London Underground in 3mm scale.
Kitedale (P4) represents an ex-Lancashire and Yorkshire terminus in the BR steam days.
Hope-under-Dinmore (EM) is a large continuous run layout accurately representing a station on the Shrewsbury to Hereford line. It is run jointly by the GWR and the LNWR. I especially liked the pre-grouping locos, coaches and wagons on show.
Kielder Forest (EM) is a model of a station on the North British Railway.
And finally, Llawryglyn is a Cambrian Railways branch. Very simple, but spacious with nice details such as the open coal wagon door. It also featured the unique Cambrian wagon adapted for the conveyance of dragons, which has been modelled complete with a suitable load. Sorry, but I didn’t get a shot of this!!!!
I had a very pleasant visit looking at some excellent modelling. These specialist exhibitions also seem to be very friendly, and the operators are ready to chat. I was interested that a show in the south-east had drawn all but one of its layouts from Wales, Scotland and the North – but none the worse for that. And I didn’t have to spend any money (except for entry and the latest Model Railway Journal.)