All photos in this Blogspot and those accessed in Google Images via the links in each report are my Copyright and may be saved for personal use only. They may not be republished elsewhere without the written permission of the Copyright holder.

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.

In August 2016 Google very kindly and arbitrarily blocked access to Picasaweb in order to force everyone to use their "much better" Google Images, so I had to do the whole exercise again. Thanks! Google Images is certainly much easier to view, but to upload to - well try it yourself, I have made my own judgement and it isn't a very complimentary one, so the long term future of this blog remains in doubt.

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 Images photo album plus captions for that report. The link will take you to the front page of the Google Images 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. On albums created before August 2016 which were created originally in Picasaweb, these are now in the Google Image Archive and the caption panel has to be opened manually for each image. I apologise for this, blame Google!

More recent albums created in Google Images keep the panel open.

in both cases, 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.

Close it in the normal way by clicking on the "X" top right or click the return arrow top left of the Windows screen to return to the blog, depending on which browser you use.

In Google Chrome you should click on the X and then select the tab for the blog from the windows tabs, in Internet explorer, click on the return arrow top left of the window to return to the blog. I'm afraid I don't know how other browsers such as Firefox vary in their operation.

Once back in the blog, any report can be accessed sequentially from the blog by scrolling downwards and if required, click on the "older posts" link at the bottom of the list, or simply go to the Blog Archive on the right of the window and select any report by simply clicking on the title.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

14 May 2017, Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

Sunday the 14 May and NG enthusiasts descended on the village hall at Barton Le Clay from all points of the compass for what has become THE annual late spring narrow gauge model-fest, courtesy of the Beds & Bucks NG Modellers who had pulled out all the stops to make this year's event run as seamlessly as possible following the sudden and premature passing of the Group's founder and previous organiser-in-chief, Mark Howe after a very short illness in January.

Once again it was an excellent day with 14 layouts present, a variety of trade and society stands including of course the 009 Society sales managing to fill a meeting room despite sales stocks being much lower than usual for the time of year. And of course, the renowned refreshments, with not only 5 star bacon rolls, but sausage baps as well and the biggest triple deck victoria cream sponge I've ever seen (naturally there is a photo included of this!).

Congratulations are in order to Brian Key, who took up the mantle of exhibition manager at short notice and indeed to the whole group who chipped in to ensure that not only did the event go ahead, but also that it went ahead in a very well organised way indeed. Thanks to you all. Numbers were slightly down on previous years, let’s hope that next year and beyond they are back up to and even higher than the 200+ that previously attended, because this really is a high quality narrow gauge modelling event held in a good location and in an ideally central part of the country for travelling to from all parts of it.

Monday, 22 May 2017

01 April 2017, The Narrow Gauge Show and 009 Society AGM, Rainford, Merseyside

This year was the 4th Rainford 009 Society AGM and the third in sequence biennially, so one can safely say that it has “become of age” as a fixture and each event sees new initiatives from Stan Williams and his hard working team.

Stan started publicising the event on the ngrm-online forum almost as soon as the 2016 AGM at Sparsholt in Hampshire had completed and regular, sometimes daily (!), exhortations about how the 2017 show was to be THE northern NG show continued throughout 2016 and into this year!

Did he achieve his aim? Well, the regular Parish Hall remained as the main venue, but instead of the small Guide and Scout halls across the road 200 yards away, this time they were replaced by a much larger venue in the form of the Village Hall a further 100 yards to walk, but on the same side of the road! I don’t think I’ve ever met a small village with so many halls in it before, and the village hall was a good sized venue in an impressive building that would make a very appropriate Municipal Town Hall in many fairly large boroughs that I can think of!

Both of these venues were filled to capacity with 15 traders/societies counted and 20 layouts – as well as refreshments in both halls. I think that justifies that Stan’s aspirations were met don’t you?

The main challenge for me with my roving reporter hat on was trying to fit everything into a very limited time window exacerbated by the 300 yard dash through the rain between the two halls and having take a pause for over an hour for the 009 Society AGM. Therefore I felt that I had to largely omit trying to photograph the non layout aspect such as traders, societies and also didn’t manage a team photo of the important ladies refreshments service teams – although to keep those who depend on it more than even photos of the latest forthcoming 009 ready to run items, an archive record of the CAKES! Let’s get on with it then, I hope you enjoy this report of a fine day.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

18 February 2017 - Narrow Gauge South West, Shepton Mallet

18th February saw the 25th NG South West at Shepton Mallet, a bittersweet event because it was also the final one. The Small & Delightful Group, who have organised all 25 of the annual shows decided that it was time to call a halt, but to mark the occasion, they set out to lay on the biggest all NG model railway show that there has ever been. When plans were revealed that they were hoping to get 75 layouts, many said it couldn't be done. Well it certainly did get done and what a selection of most of the best layouts around was gathered together and somehow accommodated in every available room in the school! A fantastic day that will not be forgotten by all 1000+ who attended and around 300 who participated in one way or other. It will probably never be matched in our lifetimes.

Many have posted online tributes to Howard Martin and his colleagues of the Small & Delightful Group since the event and I am happy to add my own appreciation for the work they have done, through many trials and tribulations over the years, including some very serious health issues amongst members, but the show has always gone on and has always been regarded by many (myself included) as the best of all the specialist annual NG shows, for a number of reasons. I will certainly miss the annual February visit to Shepton Mallet. Thanks guys.

I can do no better than to point everyone towards the super tribute to Howard and NG Southwest that Paul Martin (of EDM Models) has published on his own website at: http://www.ngtrains.com/blog/its-all-this-mans-fault/

Now, to business – well, finding somewhere to start is a reasonable idea! The programme, as it always has been for NG South West, was actually quite different from what was there on the day, but with roving reporting perseverance I arrived (VERY) early and within an hour of two had unravelled everything sufficiently to feel that my report is about as accurate as it can be! There weren’t quite 75 actual layouts, although if you count small dioramas and suchlike plus the ones on society and trade stands (which many shows do) then the figure of 75 was easily exceeded. For the statisticians there were 69 “proper” layouts on show, 14 trade stands and 10 Societies/Associations,

I read one report on one of the model railway internet forums that “in order to fit in all these layouts, there was naturally a distinct reduction in the normal numbers of traders”. I also read in NG World magazine that “you can’t fit this many layouts into a hall unless most of them are micro models, so apart from half a dozen, this would be an accurate description”. Really? I think both the above reports must have been written by people who attended a different venue on the day!. Trawl your way through my own photos here and I think you will agree that the truth of the matter was very different indeed! ALL the usual traders and societies that have attended in recent years were there except for one noted and MOST of the layouts were at least “normal size” for NG Layouts, with a very good number being VERY large – eg Pempoul, Watt Estate, Charmouth/Bridport Town and the Tarrant Valley all of which are around 30ft or more in length.

So, let’s have a look at what some of you missed and what over 1000 visitors and probably about 300 participants one way or another enjoyed. I was told that in order to photograph all the layouts I could only allow myself about 5 minutes maximum at each layout, not counting refreshment and natural breaks, or delays caused by crowds and etc, so it would be “impossible to do”. I always try to rise to a challenge and am confident that I met it successfully, although I have to concede that rushing around crowded rooms for 6 hours did mean that it was very much a matter of quantity rather than quality with regards to the photos and I have had to reduce the number of photos of each layout to 3 or 4 each and split it all up into no less than 4 sections to try to live with the constraints of Google Images. There’s still nearly 300 snaps in this album! Anyway, enough of the waffle, let’s get to the photos, I hope you enjoy your visit to the final NG South West and that the effort to try to create something of a “guided tour” of this memorable day, has been worth it.

Enjoy! As always, there are bound to be loads of errors in the captions, I would very much appreciate being corrected where these errors are noted so that, hopefully, we end up with an accurate record of this historic show.





Thursday, 16 February 2017

14 January 2017 - SWOONS Members Open Day, Ilton, Somerset

2017 got itself off to the now traditional great narrow gauge start to the year with the 11th annual South West 009 Society’s (SWOONS) members open day in the Merryfield Hall at Ilton, between Yeovil and Taunton in Somerset. Matt and Maria Cicquel as usual brought their famous pasties from their Devon Railway Centre as well as lots of other culinary goodies, and of course the 009 Society sales team took the full range of goods for the discerning early year bargain hunters. John Sutton came all the way from Redditch with his popular book stall, Steve Fulljames travelled some 150 miles from East Sussex with Narrow Planet and a new trading attender in the form of Attwood Aggregates ballast and scenic dust also attended. As always, a great day amongst like minded friends and narrow gauge enthusiasts. Huge appreciation to Geoff Bowyer and the SWOONS team for a really excellent day!

31 December 2016 - Garry’s Railcars – 2016 bonus album!

Almost everyone who is familiar with 009 will either know, or know of, Garry Whiting. One of the 15 founder members of the 009 Society in 1973, twice chairman and a very familiar face at just about every narrow gauge modelling show and regional ng modelling group members and open days throughout the country, either working with the Society sales team or manning (and often providing most of the models) a Society publicity display case. I have known Garry as a Society colleague and very good friend for some 35 years, since the early 1980’s and have always been impressed by his very extensive range of home built, detailed Windle models and more recently Japanese imports and for a very long time have been meaning to try to gather together photos I’ve taken over the past 20 years since digital cameras came into my life. I haven’t quite managed to put a set together covering everything yet, maybe one of these days, but have found an attractive and eclectic variety of railcars that have either been built by or detailed by Garry over the past 6 or 7 years which I think may be of interest to all, so as an “extra” to end one year and start the next, here are some of Garry’s railcars!

03 December 2016 - Dorset Narrow Gauge open day, Colehill, near Wimborne

This was the 5th of these super little end of year events that Brian Guilmant and members of the Wessex NG Modellers have put on, This time there was a challenge due to the hall heating breaking down a couple of days before the event, but an industrial blower heater and bacon rolls soon got the icicles off the early birds and the hall was nicely warmed up by the time the first visitors came through the door. Another splendid day with all that is best in this type of event - friendly, informal, good layouts, good refreshments and great to meet up with many people who had travelled considerable distances in some cases to join in the fun. Simon Hargraves came 130 miles from Hastings by train and suffered weekend signal delays etc etc, making for a 6 hour journey - 2 hours longer than it took him to get to Merseyside the week before! 

29 October 2016 - Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley

Autumn is upon us, weather has turned, the clocks are going back to herald the months of dark miserable evenings, but Expong is with us to fortify ourselves with motivation and inspiration over the winter! Dark rumours of the impending demise of Expong as we know it were put to bed and the goodly number of enthusiasts from near, far and very far in some cases got down to enjoying all that was presented for their delight and delectation. The usual recipe of “hunt the layouts” amongst the trade stands in the main hall revealed some gems amongst the 15 layouts tucked away amidst 3 times that number of trade and association/society stands. Huge supplement however in the best supported Dave Brewer Challenge entries yet seen with no less than 18 “tuning fork” little layouts – one point and 3 sidings that were presented. Another great day was had by all!

Click Here to View the Photo Album for this Report

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

24 September 2016, Small & Delightful Group Open day, Compton Dundon

Most narrow gauge modellers are familiar with Narrow Gauge South West, the annual show in Shepton Mallet that kicks the winter blues away every February and in many people’s opinions, is the best annual show of them all. Not a lot of people however are very familiar with the small but dedicated band of mainly North Somerset based modellers called the Small & Delightful Railway Group who have organised NGSW for many years. Every 2 years they get together and have their own opportunity to play trains and generally enjoy themselves with an open day held at the village hall in Compton Dundon, a few miles south of Street. 16 layouts (hey, that’s one more than they have at ExpoNG this year!), a good venue, lots of informal friendly fellowship and some outstanding refreshments from the ladies of the Glastonbury Lions. Some may not be aware yet that next year (2017) will be the last NG South West, but I’ve been assured that the S&D Group will carry on and will still be holding their super open day every other year – 2018 in the diary already!

When you click the link above, you will be taken to the album in Google Images, and will see the title plus small versions of the images. Click on the first image and it will open. If you cannot see a caption to the right of the image, click the "i" button which is on the line of symbols above the image. This will open the caption window, which will stay open through the album as you view the images by clicking the right arrow on the lower right of your keyboard, between the ctrl key of the main keyset and the number keys.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

13 August 2016, Narrow Gauge Midlands, Water Orton

On the road again, this time to a small community hall in Water Orton, in the eastern outskirts of Birmingham, just off the M42/M6 junction and a few miles north of the NEC. The reason? Simple really, it was time again for the biennial 009 Society West Midlands Group open day, otherwise known as Narrow Gauge Midlands and an event not to be missed if you can possibly help it, as around 150 other like-minded enthusiasts attested as I joined “the gang” for another warm and friendly day amongst top quality people and models, refreshed by the customary 5 star service from the renowned Webb Family and friends Catering Corps who raised £270 during the day for the Woodland Trust. The West Midlands Group are an active and enthusiastic group of narrow gauge modellers who always provide a good presentation at the many events in the that they provide a presence and 009 Society publicity. Great to see them on home territory with their own and invited friends layouts.

PLEASE NOTE: This is the first album I have created using Google Images, which the nice people at Google have decided to replace the perfectly serviceable and user friendly Picasa Web Albums with, as apparently this is the way forward. To say it was not very easy is an understatement. Uploading the album was very straightforward, trouble is that no matter how I tried, the photos would not upload in the order that I wanted them to, so in the end, I was reduced to manually re-ordering each one of the 101 photos in this album! Swear box filled up rapidly and it took ages. Got there in the end, but then had to add the captions! In Picasa Web, there is/was a facility to add captions to the album and you simply copy and paste each caption from a Word document against each photo number that comes up in this facility. With Google Images, I had to open each photo and insert the caption, then move to the next photo and do it again and so on. It seems that the choices are to persevere with albums and order the photos in this way, or to upload each  photo to a new album individually which I will probably try for the next one.

Anyway, that's my excuse for the longer than desired delay for this album.

Navigating the album: When you "click to view" you will/should be taken to the album which will start off with the opening text, same as the one in this blog entry, then you will see the thumbnails of the photos. Start with the first one by left-clicking it and it should open up with the caption showing in a pane to the right of the photo. If it is not there, then click on the little "i" button top right and this will open the info pane. To move to the next photo, simply press the right arrow key on your keyboard, the one between the letters and the number pad to the right of the space and right hand ctrl etc keys!

I hope you find the album satisfactory and the navigation works as described above.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Here’s One That Nearly Got Away! 009 Society Sales Open Day at Brian Guilmant’s 31 July 2010

Whilst searching for something or other in a rarely visited corner of my document e-folders I came across a small set of photos recording an ambitious “sales open day” that the then 009 Society Sales Officer (retired April 2016 but elected as Chairman same day!) had organised at his own home in Colehill, Dorset. I believe the domestic authorities were assured that this would just mean opening the garage up where the sales stock was kept “for anyone who wished to visit”. In reality of course it resulted in nearly every ground floor room in the house being full of sales stock and bargain hunters, visitors with layouts and models and as ever, a great time was had by all! I even think that Brian was forgiven by “management” for the invasion of his home!

This little report also provides a good excuse to test the new “after Picasaweb” means of linking albums to the blog.

Well we nearly got there, but not quite! 

The new link I have put in should take you to the album that is now in Google Photos, however there is no "front page" and at first sight no captions or photos number. But if you click the "i" button this will drop down to show both the number and the caption eg "001 waffle waffle". When I tried it, I maximised the window, kept the drop down box open and scrolled to the next photo or the previous one by pressing the right or left arrow on the bottom right of the keyboard where there are 4 arrows, (not the ones in the numerical keypad). Worked for me.

Still trying to find a better solution.

Friday, 5 August 2016

07 August 2016, Picasaweb RIP

"IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT" I thought EVERYBODY was familiar with this philosophy (well, Microsoft excepted perhaps) but...................

Thanks Google! Due to some imbecilic decisions made within the Google Ivory Towers, I discovered on 6 August, AFTER I had spent hours preparing and uploading my delayed report on the Oxfordshire NG Modellers open day event at Steventon, that although Google had put out notices a while ago that they were going to stop supporting Picasaweb, they arbitrarily and without definite notice, pulled the plugs and blocked access to Picasaweb at around 1800 Hours on Friday 6 August - sods law perhaps in that I uploaded my newest report at around 1730 and as is normal, I had done the insertion of the captions etc online, checked as far as possible for errors and only then did I attempt to go "public" to allow unrestricted viewing to discover that all access had been blocked.


I have been trying to find a workaround for this but I'm afraid that the apparently all singing and dancing Google Images replacement is just not the same as Picasaweb and many of the features that I have been building in to provide easy access for those who like to visit my photo albums have been removed from the "improved" new service.

As at least a temporary fix I think I have found a way to maintain public viewing on the existing blog postings (there are around 100 albums here with up to 200 or so photos in some of them) via the link in the blog that will take you to the Google Archive where they have put all my Picasaweb albums. 

This means that if you press the "Click Here to View the Photo Album for this Report" link you will now be taken to a Google Archive which shows decent sized thumbnails for the images in the album. Click any of these and they will open up and show forward and back arrows to navigate through the album.

There are captions in a very small font size below the photo, but only two lines of text will show. If I have made a longer caption you can access the full caption, or any of them in a more readable format by clicking on the "i" button top right which will open a drop down box with the caption on it. You have to close this box to be able to move on to the next image.

When you have finished viewing, click the left arrow top left of the pane and this will take you back to the album title page with all the thumbnails. Click on the back arrow top left on the menu bar and this will take you back to the blogsite.

I have now updated the links on all 100 or so of the photo reports in this blog, so you should be able to access any of them as previously.

I have now found out how to edit captions but have not yet figured out how to create a new blog posting and link it to an album of photo images now that Picasaweb has gone. The acid test for this will be when it is time to produce my next report!

Please bear with me on this whilst I seek solutions and also please join me in cursing the CRETIN who dreamed up this "improvement to the Google service"


Amended and toned down from the original rant, 8 August 2016.

25 June 2016, Oxfordshire NG Railway Modellers Open Day, Steventon

The third open day held by the Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Railway Modellers was again held in the excellent village hall at Steventon, not very far from Wantage, which light railway enthusiasts will be very familiar with and Didcot, where those who have a weakness for the Great Western (Heresy) Railway feel very much at home. Despite a couple of late cancellations of layouts there was still a very good selection of layouts present, specialist traders and of course splendid refreshments, but as they used to say in the Olde Tyme Music Hall – Chiefly, Yourselves! All the right buttons pressed by the organising team and another very friendly, informal and enjoyable day out as a result! As I’ve often remarked before, if you haven’t yet been to one of these village hall specialist narrow gauge modelling group open days then you really must, they are the very essence of the hobby.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

15 May 2016, Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

Doesn’t time fly! It seems like only last week that I attended the first Beds & Bucks Group members day, a very small event compared to what it has now grown to and already I find myself reporting the 11th of these annual Sunday junkets in a splendid large village hall just a few miles to the north of Luton! Once again, Mark and Terri Howe laid on a feast of trains (Mark’s dept) and refreshments (Terri’s dept) which was attended by around 200+ NG modelling enthusiasts who came from all points of the compass around the country to take part in or simply to enjoy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this event is way up amongst the very best one day events of the type and really should be in everyone’s diary as a “priority, not to be missed” if it is at all possible and practicable to get there


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

09 April 2016, Narrow Gauge South, Sparsholt College, Winchester

PART 1: “The best NG show I’ve been to” – not my words but something I read on one of the internet forums and a very worthy compliment indeed to Tim Couling, exhibition manager/organiser for this 13th biennial NGS at Sparsholt College near Winchester, Alan Rolfe, retiring exhibition manager who worked tirelessly in support and all the members of the Wessex NG Modellers who played a part in laying on another fantastic selection of all that is best in NG modelling for a “grand day out” amongst like minded friends and visitors. Those who like to keep count would have spotted no less than 29 narrow gauge layouts amongst the 51 stands present, which included most of the specialist traders for this end of the hobby and a number of societies, including full participation from both the 009 Society and the 7mm NG Association publicity and sales operations. Oh yes, there was the 009 Society AGM as well!

PART 2: Still only around half way through our tour of the diverse selection of entertaining layouts that Exhibition Manager Tim Couling had invited from near and far and, just as I reported for the 2014 event, what with an hour and a half being taken out of the day for the 009 Society AGM, along with many others who attended, I found it quite a challenge to get round everything allowing sufficient time to enjoy all that I saw and indeed, include a photo record of everything. I did very nearly miss a couple of layouts but, I am as confident as I can be that I did at least get a glimpse, even if only literally a couple of photos in some cases, of every layout that attended. Please don’t send hatemail if you discover that I didn’t, as I can’t turn the clock back and do it all again!

I hope you have enjoyed this extended album where I have tried to provide something of the flavour of this large biennial narrow gauge model show. My next report will be from the annual Beds & Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers Group open day at Barton Le Clay on 15 May 2016. 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

20 February 2016, Narrow Gauge South West, Shepton Mallet

Having had to abandon hopes of getting to Shepton Mallet in 2015 due to family health matters, I was determined to make it this year, particularly as the usual exhibition manager, Howard Martin, has been very ill and at the time of the show, was in the VSI ward in Plymouth awaiting a liver transplant, so it was very much a “call to arms” to support the hard working Small & Delightful Group team who had picked up the exhibition folder from Howard, sent it off to the “spooks” at Cheltenham for decrypting and then burned a lot of midnight oil in ensuring that Howard’s tradition of laying on what many consider to be the best annual NG modelling event in the country took place. And I am very pleased to say that they did this superbly! Once again it was a fantastic, friendly and inspiring day and everybody that I spoke to thought the same. Get well soon Howard!

Friday, 12 February 2016

09 January 2016, SWOONS Members Open Day – Ilton, Somerset

Another new year, wet and soggy in Somerset again, but that is not enough to deter the faithful and for the 10th annual South West 009 Society (SWOONS) members open day in Ilton, between Yeovil and Taunton in Somerset, over 100 narrow gauge modelling enthusiasts, about twice the previous year’s attendance came from all points of the compass, some travelling considerable distances, to once again enjoy a splendid, informal, friendly and relaxed day out amongst like minded people. Matthew and Maria Cicquel as usual brought their famous pasties from their Devon Railway Centre as well as lots of other culinary goodies, and of course the 009 Society and the regular trading attenders of CWR and Jurassic Models provided railway goodies for all depths of wallet. Another splendid start to the narrow gauge modelling year and as I say every time: if you could have gone but didn’t, kick yourself now!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

05 January 2016, A Visit To The Burnbake and Woodyhyde Railway

It’s quite a while since I had a chance to visit a layout “at home”, so I jumped at the opportunity to accept an invitation to visit David Collins at his home near Creech, to the south of Wareham in Dorset, to take a set of photos to supplement an article that he had prepared on his layout for the 009 Society journal, 009 News. David’s home is in “clay country” in the Purbecks and the trackbed of the old Furzebrook Tramway is all of 10 yards away from the house on the other side of the garden fence, so no surprise that David’s layout theme has been a clay mining operation. This is no “NG mainline” with hundreds of locomotives. “ Less Is More” is the watchword with a locomotive roster of just 2 steam engines and one tiny IC PW dept trolley. Has this been successful? I think so!

Monday, 21 December 2015

05 December 2015, Wessex NGM and Dorset members of the 009 Society open day, Colehill

Once again Brian Guilmant rounded off a full programme of narrow gauge modelling events in the year by organising a special little event on behalf of both the Wessex NG Modellers and members of the 009 Society who live within easy reach of the community hall near his home in Colehill, near Wimborne in Dorset and who would like to bring their layouts along – as well as some who came from further out including Bob Vaughan from Watford, Tom and Lyn Snook from Mere, and Jim and Lyn Owers who came over from the Isle of Wight. Around 100 enthusiasts arrived from all points including as far away as Yorkshire and a sizeable contingent from the West Midlands. A great day in an informal and friendly atmosphere for all who participated or visited to enjoy with the added bonus of free guided tours to Brian’s fantastic home layout thrown in as well!

22 November 2015, Northampton & District NG Modellers Open Day, Weedon Bec

As family matters precluded me being able to attend the 2013 Open Day, I was particularly looking forward to being able to get myself to Weedon Bec, near Northampton, this year for the 6th Group Open Day and was certainly not disappointed! Over 100 people paid at the door and there were no less than 17 layouts in various sizes and scales, excellent refreshments available all day from the hard working team behind the counter and as ever, a very friendly, informal and enjoyable day out amongst friends old and new from the narrow gauge railway modelling world. This biennial event has certainly come a long way since I attended the first one, on a very wet and miserable Friday evening in a small scout hut in Northampton 10 years ago. Keep up the good work guys, looking forward to the 2017 event with eager anticipation already!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

31 October 2015, Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley, Kent

The last weekend in October again, and this time literally the last day and everyone who has Narrow Gauge railway modelling in their blood who is able to is, or should be, on their way to Swanley in Kent for the annual fest of all that is best in the hobby. ExpoNG is thought by some to be a NG modelling trade show with a few layouts scattered between the traders; well I counted 23 layouts and this didn’t include some that were on trade stands, so I don’t think that charge holds any water nowadays, not this year certainly! Once again, it was a fantastic day out amongst about 700 like minded people and as far as I know everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, I certainly did. Long distance award this year went to Yoshiya Kobayashi and friends, who came all the way from Japan just to be there.

There was so much to see that I have had to split this report into 2 parts, as I did in both 2013 and 2014. More splendid layouts to see, in a variety of scales and a variety of sizes, plus an extended collection of photos of the largest layout at the show. The Sussex Downs Group Evaleight Light Railway was assembled in its entirety for what we have been told was positively the last appearance in this form. Modules of this layout will be seen at shows again, but not the whole railway as it takes such a lot of manpower, time and transport to get it from A to B, so I thought it totally appropriate to take a larger than usual number of photos to give a tour of the system as a souvenir of appreciation to the Sussex Downs Group for a layout that has entertained for many years.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

10 October 2015, M5/M50 NG Modellers Open Day, Corse & Staunton, Gloucestershire

I was especially pleased to be able to get to the M5/M50 NG Modellers open day this year as I realised checking my archives that it was back in 2012 since I last made it to this attractive part of Gloucestershire. The group, with support from a large contingent from the West Midlands Group, once again laid on an excellent show, with layouts in a variety of scales, 009 Society Sales, Secondhand Sales and Modelling Goods from the 7mm NGA, several traders, Shirley Harper’s craft stall for the ladies and the Webb Family Catering Corps providing 5 star refreshments throughout the day. In addition of course there was the friendly fellowship of like minded enthusiasts, both exhibiting and visiting which make these events so good. A very enjoyable day out and well worth the 200 mile round trip for me. Here’s my selection of photos as a record of the event.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

12 September 2015 - Welsh Highland Great & Small II, Dinas

After 4 months of immobility as a result of breaking my ankle, I was at last able to drive the car again, so to celebrate the return of at least some mobility, my son and I headed up for a weekend in North Wales, which coincidently was at the same time as the 2nd Welsh Highland Great and Small weekend based on Dinas station. Outdoors there were all sorts of attractions including footplate rides, slate wagon shunts and Victorian train rides; whilst on the main line there were shuttle services between Dinas, Caernarfon and Waunfawr as well as the Welsh Highland service trains. In the goods shed and hidden around various other small rooms were 14 narrow gauge layouts, mostly Ffestiniog or Welsh Highland themed, with 12 of the 14 being in 4mm scale. Great stuff and a great event! I made the journey home with indelible memories and will certainly return to North Wales sometime soon!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

06 June 2015 - A Visit to Statfold Barn

“Prepare to be amazed” warned fellow Wessex NG Modellers member Patrick Collins, when he organised a group visit to Statfold Barn. Understatement? I’ll say! Statfold Barn is literally a huge 1:1 scale narrow gauge train set, put together and of course owned by Graham Lee near Tamworth in Staffordshire. Privately owned and only open to the public on 3 special open day events in March, June and September each year, I can honestly report that if you haven’t yet been, it is something that you should put on your “bucket list” right now, and get yourself ready to not only be amazed, but if you have any narrow gauge juices flowing at all, a visit will, literally, blow you away! As I’ve been out of camera action and “absent” from the blog for 4 months now, I thought this was as good an opportunity as any, to celebrate my return to roving reporting!

Friday, 5 June 2015

17 May 2015, Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

For the 10th annual Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Open Day. Mark Howe and his stalwart colleagues pulled out all the stops and took the risk of moving the event from its traditional January date to mid May. Did the gamble pay off? Well nearly 200 visitors plus around 50 or so who participated in one way or another certainly thought so and as we have all come to expect from this members day, it firmly re-established itself as one of the premier events of its type and is most definitely one that is “not to be missed”. I spotted modellers from as far away as Cumbria amongst the visiting enthusiasts (as well as Keith Fainges and partner who planned their holiday from Australia to coincide with the event). A great day out – superbly organised, great layouts, outstanding 5 star refreshments service and Very Friendly. I’m looking forward to next year already!

Monday, 25 May 2015

18 April 2015, 009 Society AGM and NG Show, Rainford, St Helens

This year, Stan Williams and his team pulled out all the stops! The unfortunate demise of Narrow Gauge North has resulted in the North being left a little thin on the ground at the moment for specialist narrow gauge modelling events, so Stan duly arranged for the use of the local Scout hall, in addition to the Guide hall procured last time, to supplement the two halls and corridor available in the original parish hall venue! Competing for space with a bicycle racing event and a wedding on the same day certainly made for interesting and colourful encounters on the short journey between the two sets of halls, which added to the carnival atmosphere of a really great day out (an 18 hour day and 500 mile round trip in my own case) and another super narrow gauge model event. Many thanks to all who were involved in organising the show.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

28 March 2015, Sussex Downs 009 Group Open Day, Lancing

The Sussex Downs Group laid on their 5th biennial open day in the 5th different location since the first in 2007 - and this year moved away from the Haywards Heath area down to the coast at Lancing, to the very well appointed and suitable for this type of event in Lancing Parish Hall. As always, it was a very well organised event indeed on all counts including a 5 star refreshment service, with 9 layouts, mainly in 009 and 2 in 0-16.5 plus trade support from Narrow Planet, Meridian Models, and the 009 Society Sales, Star of the show was undoubtedly Ted Polet’s small layout Nixnie which he brought all the way to Lancing from his home in Leiden in the Netherlands. I had a splendidly enjoyable day in Sussex as did everyone present that I spoke to. Very well done to the SDG team and see you in 2017 hopefully! 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

17 January 2015, SWOONS Members Open Day – Ilton, Somerset

2015 got itself off to the now traditional great narrow gauge start to the year with the 9th annual South West 009 Society’s (SWOONS) members open day in the Merryfield Hall at Ilton, between Yeovil and Taunton in Somerset. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it is the watchword and once again, Geoff Bowyer and his team laid on a super friendly day and managed to shoehorn 10 layouts, 3 traders plus the full 009 Society sales roadshow as well as Matthew and Maria Cicquel’s 5 star refreshments into a small village hall without somehow making it seem cramped! Those who do travel from far and wide in some cases to be at Ilton in January know that it is well worth the effort to get there and enjoy the special non-elitist fellowship of narrow gauge modelling in a relaxed informal and friendly environment. Kick yourself now if you didn’t go!

Click Here to View the Photo Album for this Report

Friday, 9 January 2015

08 January 2015 - New Year Roundup – 3 that nearly slipped through the net in 2014

Starting a new year, or finishing off an old one, depending which angle you look at it from, a couple of layouts and a visit to help launch a ready to run 009 loco that I didn’t manage to fit into any of my 2014 reports, but too good to simply let them fade away. First is a small selection of photos I took on a visit to Rod Allcock’s home in Devon to take some photos of his newly released ready to run 009 diesel loco “Dirty Doris”, which I can personally highly recommend as a super little model, then a flying visit to the Fareham MRC exhibition on the 5 October where members of the host club were exhibiting the splendid 09 estate railway Watt Estate and Patrick Collins with a couple of fellow members of the Wessex NG Modellers had brought Ryedown Lane to the show.

Monday, 29 December 2014

30 November 2014, Dorset Narrow Gauge Open Day, Colehill near Wimborne

Following the successful Members Morning’s that Brian Guilmant had organised in 2012 and 2013, for this year he laid on a full day mini-exhibition with a selection of top quality invited layouts in 3 scales, both the 009 Society and 7mm NGA sales stands, a “drop in surgery” for sick items of stock provided by fault finding wizard Ian Turner and the usual superb refreshments provided by Muriel Guilmant and her team of volunteer ladies. Once again, enthusiasts who know a good thing when they see it came from near and in some cases very far and including those who were participating, about 100 people enjoyed an outstanding friendly day of narrow gauge modelling fellowship. What a splendid way to round off another full year of these superb little informal events. If you haven’t been to one yet, then make sure you do in 2015 – a much more enjoyable day out than you get at the big mainstream exhibitions!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

25 October 2014, Expo NG, Swanley, Kent

Another Friday evening in late October, M25 totally gridlocked and still 10 miles of it to suffer before arrival at Swanley for “setting up” and hopefully managing to get to the Campanile Hotel under the QE Bridge approach before the bar closes – It must be ExpoNG time again, doesn’t time fly! This time the year 2014 formed an appropriate title for a selection of superb 0-14 layouts amongst the 18 top quality NG layouts assembled “amongst all the trade stands”. Once again the event was one of the main focal points of the year for like minded narrow gauge modellers from near and far to meet up and once again due to the number of photos I took I have had to split this report into 2 parts. A great day was had by all who managed to get there!

Part 2 continues with more layouts, including a special extended coverage of Richard Glover’s Pagham  Harbour, which was being shown for the final time before being retired. Fortunately for fans of this splendid layout, it has now passed to the safe keeping of a very experienced 009 modeller so there is a chance that this was actually not the “final” showing of the layout. In order to provide photos which I hope has given viewers something of the experience of a day at ExpoNG, producing a report with over 200 photos and with captions as well, is very time consuming, but I have enjoyed this task and do hope that you enjoy it equally. I do hope to be able to continue to produce these photo reports particularly so that those who are unable to attend either through distance, health, or personal circumstances may be able to attend “virtually” via my photos.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

27 September 2014, Small & Delightful Railway Group Open Day, Compton Dundon, Somerset

The Small & Delightful Railway Group are the small team of dedicated mainly Somerset based narrow gauge modellers that organise and host Narrow Gauge Southwest at Shepton Mallet every February. Because of the size and success of this super event, they are unable to show off their own layouts so, every couple of years they get together with some additional invited layouts from relatively local modellers to have a small, informal and very enjoyable little show of their own. To round off a splendid day out for all those who like this type of small specialist event, the Glastonbury Lions ladies provide a fantastic array of world class cakes. The Great British Bake Off TV competition pales into insignificance compared to a Glastonbury Ladies Victoria Cream Sponge! 14 narrow gauge layouts, covering all the main scales – a really splendid and enjoyable feast of modelling (and cakes!).

Friday, 5 September 2014

16 August 2014, Ice Cream, Jelly and Trains in Sussex

A gathering of guests invited by Chris Ford and Nigel Hill to play and talk trains, and to consume jelly & ice cream took place at a secret location in Mid-Sussex on the 16th August. Although I’ve been invited before, this was the first time I had managed to get to this exclusive gathering. The “invite conditions” are that you have to bring a layout or something to show and I must admit I was not sure how my table of 009 stock would be received, however everyone either approved or were too polite to indicate otherwise. Hurrah! The company was outstanding as was the quality of the items brought along to show, and the hospitality of the hosts: Chris, Nigel, Karen and Mrs Ford senior, who all worked ceaselessly all day replenishing the food and the teapot was fantastic. A splendid party indeed and huge thanks for the invitation!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

29 June 2014, East Midlands Group, 009 Society Members Day, Portland College nr Mansfield

So, the excellent Oxfordshire NGM members day came to a close and those of us in it for the duration all packed up and headed 130 miles north, to Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. This was the first full scale members day for the East Midlands Group and they had found a good venue thanks to the generosity of Portland College Principal (and East Midlands Group member!) Dr Mark Dale. No less than 21 layouts and several static displays as well as 009 Society sales, A1 models, Fourdees and Andrew Neale providing trade support. It was another splendid day and I for one am very glad that I made the decision to travel a long way from home and pay out for petrol and a hotel bed in order to attend - well worth it and again much appreciation to the hosting Group for a very enjoyable event indeed.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

28 June 2014, Oxfordshire NG Railway Modellers Open Day, Steventon

The first of 2 narrow gauge modelling events this weekend saw the “009 Society Road Show” making tracks to Steventon, near Abingdon, for the 2nd biennial open day organised by Richard Holder and fellow members of the Oxfordshire NG Railway Modellers. A splendid location, including a cricket match on the green outside the hall and absolutely outstanding hospitality and organisation by the Group inside the hall!  There were14 top quality layouts, a good selection of traders plus a very well stocked 009 Society sales stand and excellent 5 star refreshments. It was a super day, spent in friendly company and just the right start to a full weekend of modelling excellence! All too soon, it was time to pack up the sales stock, Rod Allcock’s Corris layout and A1 Models, all appearing at both events, and a number of 009 Society members headed north towards the Sunday event at Mansfield.