Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day

Last weekend was the Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day at Steventon Village Hall. I travelled down the night before and met up with Richard and Sarah Doe for a beer and a jolly good chat which was a lot of fun. Richard was exhibiting Shipmeadow, a small rural halt on the ficticious Beccles and Bungay Railway. Shipmeadow workhouse nestles on the hill above the station and is surrounded by open blue sky. It really captures the atmosphere of this part of Suffolk.

Richard has some very nice stock and he’s very skilled at buying new and secondhand stock and repainting it in the B&B liveries to make it look completely different. The layout is set in 1944, hence the blackout station nameboard and the rather nice War Department van.

Richard has even included a Willys jeep!

I took ‘First’ and I was very pleased that so many people stopped to look at the layout and to have a chat. I met loads of nice people, had some great conversations and learnt a lot. Thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable day.

I managed to sneek off and take a few photos of some layouts I hadn’t seen before. This is Port Hallow in OO9 by Michael Key. I was very impressed by the buildings created from card and paper. The layout oozes atmosphere.

Look at this absolutely superb sardine processing factory. Lovely modelling.

I really liked Michael’s cameo scenes, such as this lady hanging out her washing.

Another layout that I hadn’t seen before was Ryders Green Wharf by Peter Cullen, also in OO9. It has a very interesting trackplan with lots of operating potential.

It represents a distribution point for engineering works in Birmingham and includes a branch of the Birmingham Canal. Look at that silty, muddy canal. The ‘setts’ around the canal are made with Slater’s plastic sheet and Peter has made a great job of these.

The layout has some nice cameo scenes…

… and a very well engineered turntable.

For me, the most original layout of the day was The Seaside Layout by Richard Standing. Richard has used a laptop screen as the back-scene and it is animated using the YoWindow weather app. It has moving boats etc. I thought this was a very clever idea. You could create a backscene with changing weather, sunrise, a sunny day, sunset and even night time!

The Oxfordshire NG Modellers team have created a great show. Everyone was friendly, welcoming and helpful. The hall is a super venue, there was a diverse range of high quality layouts and the catering was excellent. The star of the show was the Lime and Courgette cake – light, moist and very, very tasty.

It’s definitely worth adding the Steventon Show to your ‘must visit’ list.



7mm Narrow Gauge Association Exhibition 2018

Last weekend was the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association’s annual exhibition in Burton on Trent. I’ve been a member of the Association for over 2 years but this is the first time I’ve visited the exhibition.

I was impressed, the 7mm NGA certainly do things in sytle. The venue is the elegant Burton on Trent Town Hall, a lovely piece of Victorian architecture. They had organised a super selection of layouts in a wide variety of scales, gauges and geographies. There were a large number of traders, many catering specifically for the 7mm scale modellers, and the 7mm Association’s trade stands featuring publications, second hand items, new modelling goods and the specialist On30 stand.

The catering was very good and there is even a licensed bar (I guess you’d expect this in a venue built using donations from the Bass family!). I had a sausage cob and chips on arrival (to energise me after my journey), a pint of Doom Bar (to quench my thirst me after looking at the layouts) and a bacon and egg cob (to fortify me before my journey home). Modellers march on their stomachs – at least I do!

I enjoyed all of the layouts. Here’s a selection of photos of just some of them.

The Abbey Light Railway, O-14 by David Malton. A lovely layout of a real, but sadly defunct, line.

Also in O-14 Bunny Mine by David Rae. The inspiration came from a real location with a real gypsum mine. Yes, Bunny Hill really exists! I had a good chat with David about the techniques he’s used in the model. The wood came from strawberry punnets and the loads and ‘debris’ around the layout are real gypsum. David had to be careful the gypsum didn’t dissolve in the glue 🙂

Narrowing the gauge slightly, Ramma Woods in O9 by Simon Andrews. A very compact and well detailed woodland scene. David is building a O-6.5 layout at the moment, to represent a 10¼ gauge line, and I’m looking forward to seeing that develop.

Staying in O9, the latest layout from Christopher Payne, Pyn Valley Railway. Chris has really mastered the art of getting an operationally interesting trackplan into a very small space while retaining a spacious atmosphere.

The 7mm Narrow Gauge Association run a number of modelling competitions as part of their annual exhibition. I was very impressed by the standard of modelling. Sadly, I can’t name the modellers because, for understandable reasons, their names were not listed on the competition entry forms! Modellers, if I find your names at some point in the future I will update this blog post to give you the credit you deserve.

A WW1 Pechot-Bourdon 0-4-4-0. This is possibly my favourite model of the whole exhibition.


Snowden Ranger.

Next year, on Saturday the 8th June 2019 is the 7mm NGA 40th anniversary exhibition. They say it will be the biggest exhibition they have ever organised. Definitely a date for your diary!


Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day 2018

The Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Narrow Gauge Modellers held their annual Open Day in mid-May this year. I’m a keen member of the group despite the fact that I don’t live in either Beds or Bucks!

We had a super selection of layouts, trade stands and narrow gauge railway societies attending this year. Many, many thanks to all of the exhibitors and traders for creating a very diverse and very enjoyable exhibition.

Special thanks must go to Brian Key the exhibition organiser, and all of the Beds and Bucks members and their families for pulling together to make everything happen. Plus extra special thanks to the catering team who fed a near record number of visitors with delicious sandwiches, cake and snacks throughout the day. A sterling job!

I can’t think of much more to say so I will let the photos speak for themselves.

At the top of this blog and below are some views of Achalraj by Malcolm Harrison. This 009 layout represents a small town in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. (Pete, as promised, these are for you 🙂 ).

Lesobeng by Paul Spray is a fictional pair of lines in the mountains of Lesotho in southern Africa. The 009 stock ‘zig-zags’ to climb up the mountain.

Launceston Steam Railway by Richard Holder, a lovely, large 009 layout representing the real 2 foot gauge Launceston Steam Railway in Cornwall. This layout was voted ‘Best in Show’ by the Beds and Bucks Members and received the ‘Mark Howe Award’.

Farr End by Peter Cullen. An 009 layout representing a small market town in Shropshire.

Coleford by John Wilkes. An 009 layout set in the Forest of Dean, where John has reinvented the 3 feet 6 inch gauge Monmouth Tramway as a 2 feet gauge railway.

Angst-Lesspork another 009 layout with a fictional background. Hugh Norwood’s layout draws inspiration from the ‘Discworld’ novels of Terry Pratchett.

Bridges by Hugh Milward, an 009 layout I’ve enjoyed seeing develop over the last 2 or 3 years. It is an industrial setting with factories, a tidal inlet, tight curves and short sidings.

My own layout ‘First’. An exercise in squeezing 009 onto a small baseboard. Many thanks to Stephen Sullivan and John Rees for skillfully operating the layout while I ate some lunch and visited the exhibition.

Rokeby by Peter Blay is a freelance narrow gauge layout set in 1948, a time of post war growth for the fictional line. Lovely locos in the second picture.

Samsville and Surrey Mines in 009 by Garry Edwards is a proposed but never built railway on the Welsh border linking the mainline GWR to various lead and coal mines. It features the narrow gauge main line and a short branch to the mining community.

Moving to larger scales, St. Ozmond’s Bay by Chris Krupa is a 1:35 scale layout representing a small station on the preserved Moruna Island Railway. It’s alway interesting to see a ‘work in progress’. Note the foam baseboard, the modified Smallbrook Studio locos and the scratchbuilt rolling stock.

Longstone is Graham and Caroline Watling’s first exhibition layout in 1:24 scale. After modelling in 009 for over 30 years they created a fictitious 15 inch gauge railway in Gn15 with three different scenes all on one layout.

Finally, on Achalraj, Malcolm Harrison created a figure of a very familiar narrow gauge modeller.

Stephen Sullivan is obviously holidaying in the Himalayas 🙂


Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day 13th May 2018

The Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers are holding their annual Open Day on Sunday 13th May at Barton le Clay Village Hall, Hexton Road, Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire, MK45 4JY.

We have these layouts:

  • Longstone    Gn15  Graham & Caroline Watling
  • Achalraj (Himalayan Mountain) 009 Malcolm Harrison
  • Samsville and Surrey Mines  009  Garry Edwards
  • Farr End   009   Peter Cullen
  • First    009   Stephen Clulow
  • Launceston Steam Railway 009   Richard Holder
  • Lesobeng 009   Paul Spray
  • Coleford 009   John Wilkes
  • Bridges  009   Hugh Milward
  • Rokeby  009   Peter Blay
  • Angst-Lesspork  009  Hugh Norwood
  • St Ozmond’s Bay 1:35 by Chris Krupa

And these Associations and Traders:

  • Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Society
  • Model Roads and Tramways
  • Narrow Planet
  • 12 volts DC
  • James Corsi
  • A1 Models
  • The 009 Society Sales Stand

There will be refreshments and the Beds and Bucks team to help you throughout the day.

Opening Times: 10.30-16.30. Admission £5.00, accompanied under 16s free.

Website: http://009bedsandbucks.webplus.net

I hope to see you there…


Preparing ‘First’ for Narrow Gauge South

My layout ‘First’ will be appearing at Narrow Gauge South at Barton Peveril College on Saturday 7th April. If you are going to NG South please drop by and say ‘Hello’. It’s a small layout in a large exhibition, blink and you’ll miss it 🙂

To prepare the layout and check everything is working well I cleaned the track thoroughly and ran a loco for over an hour. I haven’t used the layout for over 8 months (Gasp!) and it was a real pleasure to run it again.

On the NG Railway Modelling Forum Michael Campbell recommended running a carpenter’s pencil over the rails to create a layer of graphite and improve the electrical connection. It sounded like a good idea. After I’d thoroughly cleaned the track I ran my brand new carpenter’s pencil over the rails. It’s definitely helped the slow running and I’m very intrigued to see how this improves operation over the long term.

Royston Rail 2017

Last Saturday the Royston and District Model Railway Club held their annual exhibition. The Royston club exhibitions are always enjoyable. They have a good selection of layouts, strong trade stands and an excellent book dealer.

This year, to add the icing to my cake, the exhibition had several narrow gauge layouts. I spent an enjoyable few hours exploring, talking to people and taking some photos using my mobile phone. Here a selection of the snaps.

I saw Mers-Les-Bains for the first time a couple of weeks ago at ExpoNG. It was great to see it again so soon. Look at the lovely teak coaches at the top of this blog.

The atmosphere Peter Smith has created is superb.

This time I managed to get photos of Peter’s tasty tram locos.

009 was very well represented. This is Butley Quay by Peter Rednall an imaginary narrow gauge line set in East Suffolk.

I like the railcar Peter has built.

Coleford by John Wilkes is based on a real railway in the Forest of Dean. John has imagined that the original 3 foot 6 inch gauge line has be regauged to 2 feet and serves a more diverse range of industries including gold processing, fashion clothing and a chocolate factory. It is great to see a layout set in winter.

Unfortunately, the fly tippers have arrived in Coleford…

John has created some very interesting trackwork.

He made this by modifying two standard points and merging them together. Nice! (This is my snap of a photograph on John’s display board – I hope you don’t mind John).

Paul Sutherland was exhibiting his H0e model of the Mariazelbahn in Austria, called Gusswerk. This layout is set in the winter too. However, as this is Austria there is lots of snow which Paul has modelled very effectively.

The Chelmsford MRC were showing ‘That Dam Railway’. This is a very large and impressive layout. They were even running a ‘Thomas’ special! More photos of this layout here.

Moving from the very large to the rather small, here’s a layout in a suitcase.

Roland Bourne’s Strathbogle has lots of operating potential. He normally fits a three track fiddle yard on the side as well.

Orford Quay and Wickham Market is a layout that I haven’t seen before. It is a fictional line that imagines the Great Eastern Railway opened a narrow gauge line to compete with the Southwold Railway. Brian Bassington has captured the atmosphere of the east of England very well.

My favourite part of the layout is the middle sections that linked the Orford Quay and Wickham Market termini. (I wasn’t fast enough to freeze the train!)

I thought the river scene was particularly well modelled.

It was a pleasure to see Scrubs Lane and the Maltings by Ken Paul again. This is the Scrubs Lane section, depicting a small industrial yard in the 1930’s.

This is the quay section where the goods transported by the railway are transferred to the ships for export.

This layout has lots of lovely scenes throughout. This country lane really appeals to me.

Three standard gauge layouts caught my eye. I liked two of them because of their attractive backscenes.

This is Eastwood VT in OO scale by Andrew Knight. Many layouts have a single line of low relief buildings as a backscene. In some cases the buildings are very shallow and lack depth. Andrew had taken a different approach that I thought worked very well. He created three different layers to the backscene: low relief buildings, thin card board cut outs of buildings, then the backscene.

This approach created a real sense of depth to the scene behind the railway.

In Koln Westbahnhof, Brian Silbey used quite deep low relief buildings, a silhouetted city skyline and a very dramatic red sky. It’s a very unusual approach and I thought it had worked rather well.

Regular readers (both of you 😊) know I like small industrial layouts. Bob Vaughan’s 00 gauge Gas Lane uses a very simple track plan to create a compact industrial layout with lots of operating potential.

The aerial view doesn’t do the layout justice. When you drop down to eye level the magic kicks in. Who could resist a scene like this?

It has a real sense of depth. Nice modelling!

The Royston exhibition is my last railway outing for this year (unless I decide to go on a Santa special – which is unlikely!). Instead of going out, I had better get on with some modelling….


Expo Narrow Gauge 2017

On Saturday the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Railway Society held their annual narrow gauge show, Expo NG. It is a massive event with a huge number of layouts, an even bigger number of trade stands and lots and lots of visitors.

This year I decided to take it easy. I travelled by train (avoiding the M11, M25, and Dartford Crossing)  and arrived as large numbers of people were leaving (many of them clutching bags full of things they had brought). The journey was much more pleasant and it was easier to see the layouts 🙂

Here is a selection of photos. (I tried to photograph more layouts but the photos weren’t always successful. If your layout isn’t featured, that’s the reason).

First, Mers les Bains a 1:32 scale, 32mm gauge layout by Peter Smith. It represents a fictional French metre gauge line on the Picardy coast in the 1950’s. The layout has a lovely French feel.

I was impressed by the scratchbuilt stock…

…and the wonderful French scenes that populate the layout.

The wagon turntable leading to the goods shed is so very typical of rural French narrow gauge lines. This layout was recently featured in Voie Libre magazine. The article was impressive, but the layout is even better in real life. Very inspiring modelling.

Regular readers will know that I am drawn to industrial layouts and, true to form, I fell for South Downs Tar by Dave Ward.

I thought this 0-16.5 layout had bags of atmosphere and was very well modelled. I was admiring the brickwork on the buildings, when Dave told me is is Noch brick paper. I would never have thought brick paper could give such great textures.

Dave has created lots of interesting scenes and structures throughout the layout.

It got me thinking about modelling something industrial. I’m not sure I can achieve this high standard though….

Let’s take a look at four smaller layouts. This is Creech Grange, 4mm scale, 6.5mm gauge by James Hilton. James used Busch HOf feldbahn track and mechanisms and build his own British style stock onto the Busch chassis.

The above photo is deceptive. Here is the whole layout, sitting on top of it’s transport box.

It is amazing how much detail James has managed to get into such a small space and onto such small rolling stock. The slow running of the locos is superb. I think James has successfully demonstrated that this is a very viable scale / gauge combination for British outline modellers.

Castle Quay, by Chris O’Donoghue is an 009 layout built in an old wine bottle box that I had seen online but never in real life. It was inspired by the fisherman’s beach and net sheds in Hastings, England. I hadn’t realised it was so small (50cm long x 32cm wide or 19.5  x 12.5 inches).

The layout is an ‘Ingelnook’ design and offers lots of shunting potential. The buildings, quay side and backscene are all images printed onto paper. I was really impressed with the textures the papers have created and how much detail Chris has successfully worked in to such a small space. Proof that limited space isn’t a barrier to good modelling.

Also in 009, Sand Point by Richard Glover, is a small terminus on the south-western coast of England, set sometime in 1920 to 1935. This is another layout that I had seen online and it was so much better to see it in real life.

It is not often you see a boat jetty so well modelled.

Back by popular demand was Ted Polet’s Creag Dubh Summit. This little layout won the Dave Brewer Memorial Challenge at this exhibition in 2016. I didn’t get a good look at it last year and I  enjoyed getting a second chance to see it this year. It really looks like the rocky summit of a mountain railway and is a very nice bit of modelling indeed.

I did endulge in the retail experience that ExpoNG offers. I got some 7mm figures from S&D Models (the guys on the stand laughed when I produced a list of what I wanted), some slide bars and connecting rods from RT Models (including an excellent explanation of how to solder them together) and some secondhand sacks of potatoes from the 7mm NGA stand (a bargain).

Many thanks to the Greenwich club for organising this event. I’ve been to four or five Expo NGs and this was the most enjoyable by far.