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Hello and welcome to my twice reinstated and updated photo reports of visits to narrow gauge model railway layouts and events! Following the sudden and untimely cessation of Fotopic in March 2011 and with it the loss of my photo galleries, I started this blog in order to try to keep my "Roving Reports" available to those who enjoy viewing them. I have linked this blogsite to the old galleries which I originally rebuilt and posted in albums in Picasaweb. Once all the old reports had been rebuilt, I have continued to add completely new ones to cover my visits to events from April 2011 onwards.
Meanwhile......Because of the way this Blogspot works, the most recent postings appear first and the oldest ones last. Each report contains a link to the Google photo album plus captions for that report. The link will take you to the front page of the Google Album for this report. Left click on the first photo and it will open into a manually operated slideshow. A panel should open alongside the image on the right showing the number of the photo and the caption text. If it does not appear, click on the small white disk top right of the photo panel and it will open. Move forward or backwards by clicking the right or left arrows on your keyboard. When you have finished viewing, click the back arrow showing top left of the photo panel and this will take you back to the album opening page.
Wednesday 4 October 2023
Thursday 24 August 2023
August again, and it’s an odd numbered year, so it is time for the bi-ennial Wiltshire Group members and friends day at the Bouverie Hall in the Wiltshire village of Pewsey, which conveniently happens to be the home of the famous Marshall’s Bakery and their “extra sticky” lardy cake. So a healthy low-sugar diet for the weeks leading up to the 5th of August, satnav set to “100 miles East” along the M4 from my own direction and a couple of hours after leaving home early on the Saturday morning, safe arrival at the venue at around 9am, where it was already buzzing with activity as layouts and stands are set up, re-unions take place and the water boiler is already on its 2nd refill in the kitchen.
Bouverie Hall is quite a compact venue, but Andy Cundick and his fellow members from the Wiltshire 009 Society Group managed to fit in no less than 18 exhibitors, a couple with multiple small layouts, plus demonstrations and trade as well as a seating area for tea, coffee, committee meetings and lardy cake consumption. It was yet another great day out overall, tinged with poignancy at times in recognition of Group stalwart, the late Angus Watkins, sadly no longer with us.
Best wishes Mick
Tuesday 22 August 2023
Just in case you weren’t sure, Narrow Gauge Now means “North of Watford” and don’t complain to me, I didn’t dream it up, although I do think it is quite appropriate, as it has become a large narrow gauge specialist event and it is “north of Watford”!
So, 3 weeks after failing the sanity test and making a 300
mile round trip from home to Surrey, the prospect of a 400+ mile round trip and
the cost of petrol etc would have seemed to have decided that having a day out
Good time of day to travel actually. Roads are quiet and Tony Blackburn’s Sounds of the 60’s on Radio 2 Saturdays from 0600 to 0800 is much more therapeutic than the moronic garbage that Radio 2 puts out at other times and days nowadays. The only downside was that Birmingham got in the way of a drive from South Wales to Nottinghamshire, but getting round the city and negotiating the M5 & M42 with all its roadworks and lanes “out” before the calmer stretches of the A42 and M1 was survived and I duly arrived to a warm welcome (much appreciated chaps), mug of tea and very well loaded bacon roll! Great stuff, suitably fortified, 24 layouts to get round so without further ado, off we go! By the time I got back home that evening I was truly suffering the effects of a very long day on my feet as well as the drive and it took about 3 days for the aches and pains to wear off – getting well into the 2nd half of the 7th decade of the mortal coil certainly comes with some downsides in the stamina stakes that’s for sure!
Sunday 20 August 2023
I hadn’t managed to attend any NG events since the “2 in one day” ones 2 months ago, previously reported in May, and 2 advertised in July that I would have liked to go to, were both outside my self-directed “100 miles or 2 hours each way” limitation. However I put myself up for a sanity test and having failed it, I had another look at Farnham, which had some good pre-publicity and was “only” 150 miles each way and 3½ hours driving including a break stop on the M4. So, I duly submitted myself to a very early Saturday morning getaway and “went for it”. Actually a good stress-free journey until I got within about 15 miles of the destination which then took me almost another hour due to two villages on the route being blocked off for street markets and a cycle race, as well as very poorly signed diversions, none of which were recognised by my ageing and out of date satnav in the car!
Got there in the end however and was immediately “homed in”
by the aroma of well stocked bacon butties being prepared, permeating up
Tuesday 15 August 2023
I departed from Longbridge (see the previous Report) and
Satnav informed me that it was a 90 minute drive up the rest of the M5 and then
the M6 to my next intended stop at Rainford, near St Helens, before I completed
my scheduled journey for a non-model railway commitment in
Well, nearly 3 hours later after crawling 100 miles along
the M6 4 lane stop-start traffic tail-back, I made it to Rainford and made my
entry to the Merseyside Group meeting at
This is a small hall, but Stan Williams who organises this bi-monthly meeting had managed to round up 8 layouts, a demo stand from Paul Titmuss of the Oldham NGM Group, a local model shop stand offering discounts and around 60 like-minded enthusiasts, with a constant supply of tea from David Hennessey! Having arrived late, I missed out on cake but never mind, it was a great afternoon, good to meet up with old friends and new ones, and enjoy the excellent range of layouts that attended.
refer to these meet-ups as NG Stan, others call it Stan’s Tea Party. Whatever
it is called, it is certainly a popular Saturday afternoon and I understand
that in addition to the occasional long distance guest pop-ins like myself,
each meeting is attended by regulars from all over the north and
Around 120 visitors from far and wide, plus another 30 or so, participants, organisers etc agreed that the Merryfield hall, in the small village of Ilton in Somerset, is a great way to start the year, the 009 Soc sales was present with a full table, Matt and Maria’s pasties were as good as ever and certainly from my own perspective, it was another splendidly successful day!
Slightly inaccurate for me of course as I had already started my new year events diary a week before, also in Somerset, as reported in the previous posting at Edington a few miles north west of Ilton, near Taunton, specifically to see Toby Hollins-Jones 5mm gauge 4mm scale miniature railway. So, imagine my surprise when I arrived at Ilton to find both Toby and Peter Hollins present with their 2 layouts that I had travelled 100 miles each way to see just a week before! No matter, good to see them again and add to the photo collection!
Thursday 20 July 2023
I wouldn’t have normally considered driving nearly 100 miles each way to visit a small village hall sized model railway exhibition, however when I learned that Toby Hollins-Jones was attending with a new “miniature-miniature” railway in 005 scale (yes – 00 scale, 5mm gauge track), then, having known Toby and his outstanding modelling skill, since first meeting him at a Wessex NGM event when he was about 11, or maybe even younger, I was determined to try to get to this little show to see what delights he has come up with this time, even if 200 mile round trips by car at the post-Covid cost of living crisis we are all in at present, and the still astronomical price of fuel acts as an ongoing restriction to how far one can afford to travel!
Sunday 16 July 2023
For the benefit of those who may not be aware, the “Small & Delightful Group” (S&D Group) is a small band of modellers who generally hail from the area around Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury in Somerset, and for 25 years between 1992 and 2017 organised and ran the great and much missed Narrow Gauge Southwest in Shepton Mallet annually in February. Whilst NGSW has been retired for similar reasons that other large specialist shows have fallen by the wayside – ageing group of organisers, health issues, growing uncertainty regarding access to the venue etc, the group members continue to enjoy and participate in the hobby, and for some years they have also put together a biennial gathering in the village of Compton Dundon, so that they can enjoy meeting up and showing their own layouts, as well as invited ones, plus of course creating an access for visitors to the famously superb cakes and refreshments provided by the Glastonbury Lions Ladies!
Very poignant as it turned out, because two very well known figures in the narrow gauge model railway hobby, Howard Martin and Rod Allcock both attended and, although it wasn’t known then, this was to be the last time that I met either of them, as they both sadly passed away in early 2023. Both Howard and Rod are much missed by the great number of people who knew them.
LATE NEWS: 16 July 2023 edit: I have just learned that Barrie Baker, a close friend of Howard’s, has announced that it is hoped to put on a special show at Compton Dundon in February 2024 as a fitting “Bye Howard” event and he hopes that a large number of modellers will be able to take part. Within 24 hours of seeing this announcement in NGRM-Online, I read that there were already 24 layout owners committed to come to what will be a superb day out and a fitting memorial. Watch out for further announcements online and hopefully in the model railway press and I certainly have it in my own diary as a fixture not to be missed!
Barrie Baker (left) and the late Howard Martin with Howard's famous (or infamous!) NG Southwest exhibition manager's 10 inches to the foot ruler
Saturday 15 July 2023
Good to see things starting to return after the long Covid lockdown months and my next outing was 2 months after NG South to Steventon in Oxfordshire for the Group’s open day, just like NG South, 4 years after the last one was held in 2018.
It was also very good to find that the Oxfordshire Group had taken the trouble to produce a show guide, it makes things much easier for me and indeed for everyone who has attended, to have some layout descriptions and notes to help us remember much later on what the event was like, what a layout might be called and whose trainset it was and all that!
For the previous 2 years, the Group has been very busy creating and developing their Group Modular Layout and this event has been their first chance as far as I know, to present it to the public. Naturally the result of their endeavours will be revealed in this report, as well as a good number of invited visiting layouts. Unfortunately a late cancellation of Richard Holder’s splendid little layout Woodbury Wharf due to a positive Covid test left a big gap to be filled, but at the 11th hour, this was filled by Malcolm Harrison with his Himalaya & Darjeeling 009 layout Achalraj.
As it always is, an excellent day out was had, well worth the journey for me and many others, some of whom travelled long distances and renew acquaintances with friends and colleagues in the hobby. I hope you enjoy my photo report of the day and, as with other reports recently, apologies for the long delay after the event before I have been able to get it done. I live in hope of catching up to date – sometime!
Saturday 8 July 2023
As Wessex NGM Exhibition Manager for NG South said in the Complimentary Show Guide: "Welcome Back"! 4 long years since the last Biennial NGS was held in 2018, and coming out of the Covid Lockdowns, it was a huge challenge to not only put on a great show and to round up top class layouts, but also to convince a nervous population that it was now safe to attend a big show like this. Although numbers were not surprisingly a bit short of target, there were still enough enthusiasts prepared to travel and come to the show to make it a very worthwhile and viable reward for the enormous amount of effort put in by Tim Couling and his small team of volunteers.
In my introduction text to the report on the last NG South, back in pre-lockdown 2018, I referred to it as the 14th biennial Narrow Gauge South so I started my first draft for this report as a welcome to the 15th NGS. A bit of a surprise therefore to find in the show guide for the next NGS, ie this one in 2022(!) that it started with a welcome to "the 20th" NGS. Not to worry, one of us is 6 shows out of sync, and I'm sure that history will determine who got it right, but it doesn't really matter, as the main thing is to celebrate that it has returned, despite the restrictions that we have all had to bear during the Covid crisis period!
NGS has been run every 2 years (except for 2020!) since 1982 and is now the largest and longest-running specialist narrow gauge model railway show in the UK. Indeed, since the retirements of Expo NG and NG Southwest it can be said that it is one of only two of these large events left - good to see that NG North is still going to continue, following the tragic loss of Andrew Kirkby.
So, on with the show as they say, and how to present the best representation that I can of this momentous occasion! As with previous large reports, and in order to cover as much of the show as possible, I have decided to split the report into no less than 4 parts. Access them in the usual way by clicking on the link text under each of the 4 photos below to open up individual albums for them.
Tuesday 25 January 2022
After a long and difficult time
for us all since they were able to have the 14th members open day
back in January 2020, Geoff Bowyer and the South West 009 Society (SWOONS) team
faced a big challenge in deciding to go ahead with their 15th open day and,
with several late withdrawals, it was a brave decision to go ahead. However, around
100 of us were very pleased that they did, as it was a
really excellent little day out, with the chance to rekindle
friendships after 2 long years in some cases, see top quality modelling
"in the flesh", enjoy one of Maria and Matt Gicquel’s famous pasties
and strain the budget at the Society sales table. Well worth making the
journey and renewing like-minded friendships, with some visitors travelling
over 200 miles noted. It only remains for me to say how much I enjoyed the
event and for those who were unable to join in the fun at the Merryfield Hall
in the small
Wednesday 15 December 2021
On the 4th of December a very special event took
place at the Colehill Memorial Hall, near Wimborne in
In addition to his well known work for the 009 Society having held nearly every committee position over more than 40 consecutive years, but best known for the many years he spent as Sales Officer, growing it from a single table for Society members to buy and sell pre-loved 009 items, to the largest stock of 009 and related items gathered together that exists, with a vibrant and successful worldwide trade, Brian was also a stalwart member of the Wessex NG Modellers and had held the group Christmas gathering and quiz at his home for many years.
In 2012 he expanded this diary event to include an 009
Society “members morning” before the
2020 was a virtual write-off for all of us for most of the year, so it was not possible to run a December 2020 Colehill gathering, but with restrictions beginning to be lifted it was decided by some of the Wessex NG Modellers that a 2021 event would be put on, and be held in memory of Brian, so that some of those who were unable to attend his funeral, may have an opportunity to pay their respects. That this initial idea proved to be a success is endorsed by visitors who came from as far as 220 miles away and voluntary contributions to the cancer charity that was being supported amounted to nearly £470, a fantastic and generous gesture by the 25 or so Wessex members who were either exhibiting or “doing show duties” and the 100 or so visitors who attended. Considering that “social distancing” had to be adhered to and consequently the number of layouts on show had to be restricted in order to provide space, this was a very impressive turnout for a small hall at the best of times, let alone with all the restrictions in force. Full marks to John Thorne and Iain Morrison and the organising team, the volunteer ladies who worked so hard in the kitchen all day, and the team of assistants who made this day such a success.
It was a splendid day all round, excellent refreshments, good company and the informal and friendly atmosphere throughout that Brian always tried to generate for this little event. A fitting memorial indeed and an event that I personally hope we are able to do again.