The Bartlett’s in Berlin – 1 – repost

We’re off to Berlin again this weekend, so I thought I’d repost pictures from our first visit five years ago – and lots of trams and trains.

Maxine and I recently spent a long weekend in Berlin, visiting our eldest daughter.  We thoroughly enjoyed Berlin, despite having chosen to visit the same weekend as the Champion’s League (football) final.  It’s an interesting city, the greenest in Europe, with all those Cold War connotations, and endless quality museums (no we didn’t visit the currywurst museum).

And there was considerable railway interest as well.  Although it was coincidental, as Ruth works in the hotel, I was delighted to be able to sit at breakfast and watch yellow U-Bahn trains enter the Warschauer Str. terminus, elevated on an attractive brick viaduct, with yellow bendy-trams in the adjacent road.  Here’s the view leaving the hotel….

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That’s what I call a location!  The final photograph is looking down to the River Spree and the location of a long remaining section of the Berlin Wall.  We didn’t need to take a tram ride, but I was very impressed by the compact articulated units, that could turn on a radius better suited to a small 4-wheeled car.

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We used the U-Bahn extensively, especially as we were just 3 stations from Ruth’s apartment.  This final shot today is the little 2-car train that shuttles from the central Berlin station, Hauptbahnhof, two short stops to the Brandenburg Gate (unfortunately taken over by EUFA for a football exhibition, but still a sight to see).  It’s some time, I think, since I went on a 2-car train, and this was an older unit with metal handles that opened the (powered) sliding doors.  The central station is just a few years old, and it is quite something – a brand new steel and glass station that looks more like Bluewater or an airport with the shopping malls on several levels.  Even the trains are on three levels, and two levels cross at 90 degrees.


Friday was a full day’s tourism, to allow Ruth to get a little work done.  Packed into the day were the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial and the underground Holocaust Museum (moving, gruelling, but an impeccable presentation).  Then on to the parking lot site of Hitler’s bunker, to Checkpoint Charlie (nothing to see, a tourist trap, but for those of a certain age, walking through Checkpoint Charlie just has to be done), and finally to the Jewish Museum (an interesting museum in a fine building).  Well, they were all in the same part of the city and more or less on a straight line.  After that we slowed down a bit!!

Next time, the S-Bahn and main line DB trains.

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Two views of the hobby

Following the tragic trashing of the Market Deeping MRC exhibition, and the amazing show of solidarity that raised over £100,000 for the club and other exhibition losses, there have been a number of positive articles in the newspapers.  Here are two, one old, one new, one female, one male, from The Guardian….

From 2007, “Rod, I salute your train set“.  Money quote is….

Or that I attempted to build Walschaerts valve gear while breastfeeding my daughter (breasts and trains in the same sentence never fails to make you friends).

I have enough problems with valve gear, full stop….

And from 2019, “Not just for anoraks: model railways are a joyful escape from the pressures of masculinity“.  Best quote is…..

If there is something positive to be taken from the Market Deeping disaster, it might be a chance to look at the world of modellers not merely as a bunch of sad anoraks, but a space in which masculinity and mental health can be positively explored, a novel and creative form of #selfcare.

Actually, I think that it’s well established that constructive hobbies are particularly good for one’s mental wellbeing, especially in the strange world that we live in (European elections, anybody?)

And one of the comments:

Hobbies are one of life’s great joys, and incredibly therapeutic. As a modeller I get home from a high-level job, dealing with an immensely stressful world, and I can solve every problem with glue, paint, care and a few simple tools. I can build something that is fun, beautiful, intriguing and makes me happy.

Don’t knock the anoraks – it’s better than being an old fart who spends his whole life talking football.

Of course, some of us can also talk football, and are looking forward to the all-English European cup finals (ironic?) and the women’s World Cup.


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Replacement bus needed?

After a rather heavy week in the model railway world, a little light relief is needed…

Council left red-faced after £6,000 bus shelter built on road with no buses

Residents were left scratching their heads after a £6,000 bus shelter appeared on a street where no buses run.
The shelter popped up in place of a rusty old pole on Tickhill Road in Maltby, South Yorkshire, earlier this month.

But council officials were left red-faced after it emerged the two-bus-a-day service along the road was axed back in March.

They don’t seem to need a replacement bus service.  Perhaps a replacement train service, or perhaps just a replacement bus….


Posted in Out and about, Prototype, Weird and wonderful | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Llanastr – yet another small layout – repost

I realised that, having just written my post on expoEM and Llanastr, I had already blogged this little layout.  As it’s a busy week, I’ll repost this earlier screed.  It’s coming up to holiday season again, so I may well repost a few popular items.  We’ll see…..

The blogsphere is a small place and downright incestuous at times.  Two of my favourite sites Prince Street, and Andrew’s Trains  both recently featured one of my favourite small layouts, Llanastr, built to P4 (4mm/ft, and a scale 18.87mm gauge) standards.  And there’s a link to a whole site describing all aspects of Llanastr.  It seems a little unfair to post about their posts, but here goes…..

From the site:

 The idea of Llanastr was born in the early eigties when I was exiled form my native Wales and found myself in a flat too small to accommodate the layout I had been building based on the Brecon and Merthyr station at Rhymney. In order to ‘keep my hand in ‘ and to allow me to run my stock I decided to build a particularly compact layout that could be erected and dismantled in a short space of time.

In designing the track plan it became apparent to me that much of the length of the typical terminus station is taken up in the run-round loop, so in order to reduce the layout length I decided to place the scenic break in the middle of the station and use the fiddle yard sector plate to complete the run-around and facilitate shunting. One of the prime objects throughout the planning and construction of the layout so far has to avoid the cramped look that can sometimes occur with small layouts (and many larger ones).

The resultant design includes platform and runround capable of handling passenger trails comprising three 6 wheel coaches and a 4 wheel PBV and an 0-6-0 or 2-4-0 tender engine (though the B & M was a tank engine only line after the 1880s) and two sidings; one with access to a bay platform and the other to the goods shed. Both turnouts are B6 and the minimum radius is 4 feet.

The overall dimensions including fiddle yard are six feet long by fifteen inches wide. The main baseboard itself (excluding support frame, lighting, etc.) is split in the middle and hinged to form a unit which measures 3’ x 2’6” which is easily carried in one hand and was designed to fit into the boot of the Vauxhall Chevette saloon I had at the time.


There’s some similarity with the USA micro-layout, I recently described, with limited visible real estate, and a run-round traverser.

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expoEM Spring 2019

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.)

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Sad, sad, news

Like many of the UK model railway community, I have been shocked and saddened by the news about the Market Deeping MRC show in Stamford.  As you have probably read, it had to be cancelled after four teenagers broke into the school at 4am on the Friday night and totally trashed four layouts and some traders stands, that had been set up early.  It is probably fortunate that prompt action by neighbours, caretaker, and police prevented any damage to a second hall.  Another nine layouts were due on the Saturday, and escaped damage.  These photos, from the local paper, show the shocking extent of the damage.  It was also the most read article on the BBC for a while.


There is little that can be said when one sees these photographs.  What could compensate financially for 20 years work on a layout, or for the locomotive above?  However, it is at least good to see the strength of our hobby.  Market Deeping club have set up a Just Giving page to with a target of £500 for their immediate expenses.  As I write on Sunday afternoon, it is already at £5,315 (and has doubled as I wrote this post!)  [Amazingly, it’s up to £31,000 when I looked at 10:00pm – modellers can be wonderful, sometimes!]

And up to £51,000, 11:30am, Monday – a wonderful response.

And 10:00pm £78,000 plus £10,000 promised by Rod Stewart, and £5,000 from Miniatur Wunderland.  So good!

This is probably an isolated incident, but it does raise some questions about our exhibitions.  These are usually very well organised, but are most definitely also run by amateurs.  My reaction as an exhibition manager is to ask:

  1. Would it be prudent to have overnight security at our venue?  But comments on our forums also suggest that some venues such as schools would not allow this, relying on the burglar alarms.
  2. What is the real insured value of our shows?  I realise both that this is very much a guess for us amateurs, and also that it would be very easy to underestimate the insured value of a show.  Even if the exhibitors send an insurance value with their layout details, I suspect many of them will be low estimates.
  3. Most worryingly, would a true insurance value price us out of the market?  And will some exhibitors not want to bring along their best work to shows, leaving us with a lower standard of model on display?

Some guidance would be helpful from the insurance business, or perhaps from the organisers of our more commercial shows such as TINGS and Ally Pally.  Perhaps at the end of the day we need to put this into perspective.  Hopefully an isolated incident, and with losses that are probably a fraction of those to flood, fire and burglary?

I can only offer my best wishes to the Market Deeping MRC, and that they will recover, stronger if scarred, in the future.

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A rival for Paul?

Not a bad selection…..

Some excellent models and camera angles….

And the real thing….

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