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 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! .

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.

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. 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.

Monday 26 December 2011

10 December 2011, Narrow Gauge (and a few ships!) at the Wigan Model Railway Exhibition

I don't often go to the big "mainstream" model railway shows - expensive to get in and too many people in front of the layouts to be able to get good views and photo opportunities are two of the reasons, but I have intended to make the long trip from Dorset to Wigan for several years, enticed by the consistently good reports about the show, so this year with some really top notch narrow gauge layouts amongst the 30+ layouts, and weekly emails encouraging me to come from Stan Williams I decided to make the effort. Unfortunately I was only able to attend for one day, when a show this size really needs the full weekend to take everything in, but I did manage to have a good look at the narrow gauge side of things and to meet many narrow gauge modelling friends and acquaintances who were present either exhibiting or as visitors, which alone was more than enough to justify the expense of a 550 mile round trip and a small mortgage on the entrance fee for me. An excellent day all round and an absolutely outstanding 009 Society publicity and modelling demo display - easily the best Society/Association stand in the show and full congratulations from me to fellow friends and members who both organised it and manned it.

Sunday 11 December 2011

13 November 2011, Northampton & District NG Modellers Open Day, Weedon Bec

The fourth biennial Northampton Group event and once again it was a splendid late autumn day out with all the ingredients that we've come to expect - good informal company, Brian's 009 Sales emporium, a good range of layouts in 009, 7mm and Gn15 and 5 star refreshments from Julie Cope's catering team! In fact the double sausage bap (with onions, mushroom and tomatoes) that I was served at lunchtime was so good that I have recommended to the Committee that for the 2013 event the catering dept are awarded the rare honour of having "By Appointment The 009 Culinary Awards Committee" annotated in the programme. The layouts were of course well worth travelling half the length of the country to see as well, which a good number of people did - from all points of the compass.

Saturday 3 December 2011

29 October 2011, Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley

End of October again - another Expong, the clocks have gone back and winter is upon us already! Unfortunately, since the Pewsey report in August I had to cancel visits to 3 narrow gauge modelling group events around the country due to unavoidable pressures on my time which is also the reason for the very late posting of this report, but better late than never! I thought that this year Expong was the best one I have attended for several years, with all the main specialist traders, 17 layouts (not counting those that were on trade stands) in a variety of scales, plus an additional 11 "filebox" layouts entered for the David Brewer Challenge. As usual the “Expong Experience” is about meeting up with fellow like-minded NG enthusiasts and enjoying a very friendly day out. Overall another outstanding event and well worth the effort taken by many enthusiasts to get there. My appreciation is offered to Hazel Brewer and all the members of The Greenwich & District NG Society for their sterling efforts.

Monday 22 August 2011

13 August 2011, Wiltshire Group 009 Society Members Day and MOMING 11, Pewsey

If you don't know what a proper lardy cake is, then you really need to put the biennial Wiltshire Group bunfight in Pewsey firmly in your diary, for there you will find the stickiest and sweetest example of this Wessex speciality delicacy (I say Wessex because I know at least 3 counties in the region claim it as their own!). In addition to the lardy cake there were 10 009 and 2 HOe layouts, a further 10 MOMING ones (Modelling the Minimum Gauge) in various scales, coordinated by Christopher Payne and no less than 9 traders/society stands, including Brian Guilmant’s  009 Society Sales (of course!) plus Neville Kent with N Drive and Andrew and Rachael Hastie with Parkside Dundas, all the way from Scotland; and Allen Doherty with Worsley Works from Manchester. If traders are prepared to travel up to 500 miles each way to spend a Saturday sitting in a village hall in rural Wiltshire, then there can't be much wrong with the hobby can there? The 150 or so paying visitors and about 50 who participated certainly agreed! I'm not sure if Pewsey was the pioneer of the regular 009 Society Group members day events, but this was their 13th, so 26 years of doing it must mean their recipe works. Another splendid informal and friendly day amongst some top class modellers and their layouts. Great stuff and much appreciation to both the Wiltshire Group and Christopher Payne once again!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

16 July 2011, Narrow Gauge Midlands & 009 Society EGM, Water Orton

To host only the 3rd Extraordinary General Meeting called in the 009 Society’s long history, the West Midlands Group organised Narrow Gauge Midlands, a super friendly and informal members day at the Water Orton Community Venue near Birmingham and despite the necessary formalities of the EGM, which Chairman / Director General, David Gander kept mercifully short, all 68 or so members who made the effort to travel considerable distances in torrential rain in some cases that I spoke to thought that the venue was good, the refreshments were outsdanding (well done again ladies!) and the friendly ambience amongst some top quality modelling was just the job for a really good little event. I understand that discussions are already under way for a repeat performance (without an EGM) at the same venue sometime next year - see you there!

Sunday 5 June 2011

28 May 2011, Sussex Downs 009 Group Open Day, Wivelsfield

Just a week after the Wessex NG Modellers Dorset members open day, the Sussex Downs 009 Group laid on their third open day in rural mid-Sussex, with 8 x 009 layouts, plus one of each 006.5, 016.5, an 00 tram layout, trade support from Meridian Models, Rodney Stenning, Narrow Planet and of course the 009 Society sales stand. Unfortunately visitor numbers were somewhat lower than either expected or deserved, perhaps due to it being a bank holiday weekend. Nevertheless, those who did manage to make the effort to join the participants, enjoyed another of those superb informal, relaxed and friendly days, with some really top class modelling to admire and an absolutely outstanding refreshments service. Much appreciation to all the Sussex Downs lads and ladies for laying on such a super day and as I said in my report of the 2009 event: "looking forward to the next one already"!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

21 May 2011, Wessex NG Modellers Dorset Open Day, Colehill

For some time now, 009 Society Sales Officer Brian Guilmant has been aware that there are a healthy number of narrow gauge modellers living within a reasonable hailing distance of his home in Colehill, near Wimborne in Dorset. Brian had an aspiration to organise a local open day and to bring together as many as possible of the narrow gauge enthusiasts that live within an hour or so of Wimborne for an informal and fun open day where everyone could have a pleasant day amongst like minded people and enjoy the layouts that attended.

And what a super day out this turned out to be! Brian requisitioned the Colehill Memorial Hall, just 200 yards from his home and rounded up a dozen layouts mainly from the Dorset area, and slightly over the border into Somerset and Wiltshire in 3 cases. About 100 enlightened people got their priorities right, some travelling considerable distances to be there and enjoyed an absolutely splendid, friendly and fun day! This is what the hobby is all about and from visitor feedback it was clear that a number of new narrow gauge modelling enthusiasts had been attracted as a result. Much appreciation to everyone who contributed to the success of the day and especially to Brian and Muriel Guilmant for the many hours of hard work they put in both before and during the day. Let's have more open days like this one!

Tuesday 10 May 2011

9 April 2011, 009 Society AGM, Rainford, Merseyside

Very suitable that the first completely new Roving Report to be posted in this new Blogsite is for an event as important as the 009 Society AGM, and it was very much a “last minute” chance that I managed to get to it at all this year. Was it the Call of Duty or just outright insanity? Due to a family illness, I had already reconciled myself that I wasn't going to be able to get to the AGM this year; Hon Ed 009 News had been notified and official apologies had already been submitted to Hon Chair and Hon Sec. And as at 0200 hours Friday night/Saturday morning that was still the case. However the call to the colours was too strong to resist and an hour later, at 0300 the Nissan had been fired up and my son and I were on the road heading north. A pre-dawn fried breakfast at Knutsford Services on the M6 got us sufficiently woken up and ready to tackle the anticipated bacon butties when we arrived at the "do" and we were not disappointed when we pulled into Rainford at 0830!

A pleasant morning was spent with modelling friends and acquaintances and luckily I took a number of snaps on the "first lap" around the layouts before lunch, because unfortunately at midday I got a recall, had to abort the day and take my leave. So, no sleep, 550 miles round trip and just over 3 hours at the venue, but how else were you going to see photos of the day?

A brief stay for me, but sufficient to see that it was an excellently organised do by Roger Christian and Stan Williams; and of course the superb layouts that were presented for everyone to enjoy. The good news of course is that I wasn't present for the formal part of the AGM, so I expect it was quite a lot shorter than usual!

Target Achieved - Ex-Fotopic Roving Reports Reinstated!

When Fotopic suddenly disappeared on 9 March along with everybody's photo galleries, I thought it might take 6 months to rebuild all of my photo reports posted there. It wasn't the photos as I had the originals safe anyway, it was the texts and captions that were the problem.
 Anyhow, with the Shepton Mallet 2011 report that appears immediately below this posting, I am happy to announce that I have completed the rebuilding and reposting of all the reports previously on Fotopic all the way back to January 2008 and any or all of these can now be accessed through the links that appear in the postings below. It only took just over a month to do it, and using Picasaweb to hold the albums and this Blog as the access point, it has been a much more straightforward exercise than I imagined it would be.

Time to find a bacon butty and have a break I think!
That's better. I hope you enjoy the reports and the effort of the past month or so proves to have been worth it!

When I started rebuilding my reports, I made the decision to restart the albums/galleries from January 2008. I apologise if anyone was expecting to see the original 2007 galleries that I started with, but I'm afraid the captions and intro texts etc for all of these were lost as in the early days I used to type them in directly online without thinking of how much better and safer it would have been to compile them as Word documents and therefore have them saved for future use. All of the photos that were in these earlier reports and very much more are featured in my Roving Reporter Photo CDs with photo coverage going all the way back to 1997 anyway (further details about these and how to obtain them can be found in the 009 Society Website

The photo of me doing a culinary assessment on a bacon roll by the way was taken at the fondly remembered and much missed Chilterns Narrow Gauge which used to be held annually in June at Luton. A super show in a good central location, but very sadly not supported sufficiently well for the hard working organising team to be able to continue to run it. There's a clear message there - if you are able to get to one of the specialist events that I take nearly all of my photos at, please do make the effort to get there. The success of these events depends entirely upon the hardwork of usually a small team of enthusiasts, and the support of those who will come and enjoy the show.

FINALLY, just to explain the structure that I have standardised for all the reports:
There is a Title and Date; the introductory text usually unaltered from the original Fotopic gallery report; a copy of the album "cover photo" for the event and a LINK which is defaulted to take you to the opening slide of a slideshow that is configured to run automatically at 3 second intervals through the complete set of photos for that report. This appears to have confused a few people so a short explanation:

1. You can adjust the time delay between slides simply by clicking on the + or - symbols next to the time shown.
2. You can stop the automatic slideshow and go "manual" and then revert back to automatic as desired simply by clicking on the central II or > symbol between the blue arrows
3. If you prefer to see the album contents list in thumbnails and then select individual photos to view, then click on the large X symbol at the right of the slide controls. This will then stop the slideshow and take you to the album thumbnails. Click on a thumbnail to open up that photo and then you can either go back to the album contents or use the arrows to scroll forwards or backwards.
4. You can revert back to the slideshow at any time by clicking on the "view slideshow" link top left of the album contents pane.
WARNING. If you keep to the default slideshow, either auto or manual, you can immediately get back to the Blogsite by clicking on the "back" arrow top left (in Internet Explorer). However if you decide to view the albums through the album contents thumbnails, you will have to sequentially click the back arrow as many times as you have viewed photos in order to return to the blogsite and subsequently go to the next report to view. Additionally, the album presentation only allows for a truncated (150 words) introduction text to the album, which is why it is recommended that all access and/or saving into "Favourites" for future access is done via the Blogsite URL and NOT through my Picasaweb account URL

Friday 6 May 2011

19 February 2011, Narrow Gauge South West, Shepton Mallet

Just 6 weeks before the 19th NG Southwest was due there was some doubt that it was even going to happen. Howard Martin, exhibition manager had been seriously ill, and only 4 confirmed layout bookings were known. But little things like that don’t put the robust Small & Delightful Group off and after a “call to arms” was sent out to a number of layout owners at short notice, a splendid selection of layouts were eventually assembled, I counted no less than 28, in scales between HOe up to G and SM32. As ever, good quality layouts and some superb examples of narrow gauge railway modelling at the highest level all presented in the informal friendly and fun atmosphere that all those who regularly attend NG Southwest know so well.

If you haven’t been to NG Southwest then you really should put it into your diary as a “must” to do next year!

23 January 2011, Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

By my reckoning this was the 6th annual Beds & Bucks NG Modellers open day and the 5th that I have attended. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and Mark Howe and his hard working colleagues followed their established successful formula by laying on a feast of narrow gauge modelling across a broad spectrum of scales and integrating novice modellers and layouts “under construction” right through to “premier league” famous layouts, complete with “As Seen in Railway Modeller” stickers in total equality and without any elitism.

Along with the tempting aroma of sausages sizzling away throughout the day, the scene was set for another of the friendly, informal, inspiring and hugely enjoyable days that more and more are agreeing is where the healthy heart of the hobby lies. It was particularly encouraging to see active participation by several junior narrow gauge modellers.

I still cannot understand why some people with like-minded narrow gauge interests do not bother to attend these sort of events yet appear to prefer to spend small fortunes in entrance fees and travel across the country to go to the big mainstream model railway shows, where if they are lucky they may see two or three NG layouts, normally jostling amongst a crowd of “non NG-aware” spectators, and with the layout operators usually working under considerable stress, no time to stop, chat and show a particular new model; and often displaying significant sense of humour malfunctions……

I know where I prefer to spend my money! Huge appreciation to the Beds & Bucks NG Modellers for laying on another Grand Day Out

15 January 2011, SWOONS Members Open Day, Ilton

The South West Area Group of the 009 Society (SWOONS) held their 5th Members Open Day at the Merryfield Hall in the small village of Ilton, between Yeovil and Taunton in Somerset  and for a change, there was neither snow nor floods to deter those who like their model railway events to be of the narrow, friendly and informal genre. A good selection of layouts were provided by both the members of the group and some invited guests who had travelled considerable distances in some cases to give their trains a run after the winter hibernation.

The word had obviously been passed around about what a good day out this one is, as the hall was packed out in the morning, and overall I estimate that there were about twice the number of visitors compared to previous years. I spotted many 009 Society members who had travelled over 100 and in some cases 200 miles each way in order to attend. If enthusiasts are prepared to travel considerable distances despite the extortionate fuel costs prevailing to be at a small village hall in the depths of winter, then the hobby is certainly healthy and those who could have come but decided that it was “too far” are certainly the ones who missed out on both a superbly organised, friendly, informal and enjoyable day, but also some exciting and not to be repeated bargains on the 009 Sales stand! Once they’re gone, they’re gone as they say!

Appreciation is extended to all the SWOONS members who worked hard to lay on an excellent little event and in particular to Moreen, Hilary and Rita who maintained steam pressure in the  kettle and kept the hungry train people refreshed all day long. Another 5 star rating awarded by the catering assessor!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

30 October 2010, Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley

Expong this year followed the usual recipe for the event – a huge total number of stands – 72 according to the  programme, with trade and association/societies being present in force, and 18 layouts tucked away between them all. However, despite some concerns voiced in some quarters before the event, that there were insufficient  layouts booked and half of them could be described as “micro” layouts to boot, I think that everyone who attended, including myself, thought that it was a really splendid show and the quality of most of the layouts that were present was very high indeed. Added to all that is what may be described as “The Expong Experience” – you really have to go there and join in to understand that I suppose. As I’ve said before, it is without doubt the undisputed magnet for those who are involved with or a supporter of narrow gauge modelling in all scales to meet up for both a social gathering and renewing of acquaintances, to enjoy seeing the top quality modelling present and being able to talk to the layout builders in an enlightened environment that is simply not present at “mainstream shows”; and of course to spend lots of money at the full range of narrow gauge modelling specialities on offer from the traders and societies.

I travelled on the Friday with the 009 Society Sales stand and therefore was present for the whole time from “doors opening” at 8pm Friday through to the Le Mans style rush to vacate the hall and get out of the carpark after closure at 5.30pm Saturday (but we did actually vacate the leisure centre in order to sleep between 11pm Friday and 7.30am Saturday (!)), so I saw first hand the tremendous amount of work put in by Hazel Brewer and her Greenwich & District NG Society colleagues, particularly on Friday night, to try to ensure that everyone was properly accounted for, booked in, looked after and settled into their designated “patches” despite the efforts of the leisure centre staff to not provide access to all the halls, in the case of the small gym until 10pm!

One occasionally reads negative feedback after a show, I have only seen positive feedback from those who participated and from visitors about this event (notwithstanding impressions about the refreshment service provided by the leisure centre!). In my own personal opinion, I share the positive impression – it was a great event and once again was a super way to complete the specialist narrow gauge show “season” for 2010.

Monday 2 May 2011

25 September 2010, Small & Delightful Railway Group Open Day, Walton

The Small & Delightful Railway Group, who organise the superb NG Southwest at Shepton Mallet every February, held their biennial open day at Walton, near Street in Somerset on 25 September, which is where they are able to get their own layouts set up, together with some invited layouts to produce a relaxed and friendly little event that has become very popular amongst those “in the know”, attracting attendance from all over the country.

Despite chief layout organiser Howard Martin being unable to participate due to illness, Barry Baker and the team still managed to put on another very enjoyable day of informal friendship amidst some excellent NG layouts ranging from 009, through 016.5 and 09 via Gn9 and Gn15 all the way up to 16mm scales. Both 009 Society and 7mm NGA sales teams were present with the full range of goodies on offer and Steve Bennett catered for the larger scale fans with his Gn15, G9 and 09 resin kit ranges. Splendid refreshments from the Glastonbury Lions rounded off a super day out for all who managed to attend. I hope my selection of photos provides something of an overall impression of this excellent day out in deepest Zummerzet.

Sunday 1 May 2011

11/12 September 2010, Nationale Smalspoormuseum Modelbouwdagen, Valkenburgse Meer near Leiden, Netherlands

After a gap of 5 years since I last attended Valkenburg, a very late opportunity to fill a vacant seat in Lee Bryant's car arose and at 0300 on Friday 10 September I duly left home on a memorable expedition to the Netherlands that finished 72 hours and 10 minutes later when I returned to my bed at 0310 the following Monday!

It was great to meet up again with many of my good friends in the Dutch 009 Group on their own “home turf”, as well as several other fellow narrow gauge modellers from both Holland and Germany, plus of course the British contingent of Lee Bryant with Coil End Lane; Tom Dauben and Chris Matthews with Tom’s Dunbracken; Don and Val Sibley with their 1:100 scale (almost TTn3!) Belgian Country Tramway; and Andrew Burnham and Heather Scott from Peco who joined us on the Saturday.

I very much enjoyed all aspects of the weekend, which anyone who has ever attended will confirm, is so much more than simply taking part in a model railway exhibition. I was particularly impressed by and grateful for the superb welcome and hospitality provided throughout the weekend by the hosts from the Valkenburg Museum. Fantastic! An added bonus was Ted and Henriette Polet’s very kind invitation to Lee, Tom, Chris and myself to visit their home for an evening meal, and of course to climb that famous near-vertical staircase to see the Craigcorrie & Dunalistair in all its glory (Minus Dunalistair Harbour, but we caught up with that at the museum as Ted had extracted it for the exhibition). It was my own 4th ascent of the stairs to visit  the C&DR , but a first for the others and a highlight of what was a superb, friendly and inspiring weekend for us all.

My set of photos starts with some impressions of the visit to the C&DR – which in my opinion is easily the premier model of a complete operating railway system, narrow gauge or otherwise that exists; then we travel across the city of Leiden from Ted’s home to the Valkenburg Museum and I have tried to compress a reasonably comprehensive overall summary of all the attractions to be seen, both model and full sized. A brief glimpse of the superb BBQ and special train that the organisers laid on for participants on the Saturday night, and finishing with some photos of the attending layouts – with no apologies made for featuring Dunalistair as the main attraction (complete with some of my own visiting Mull & Iona Railway stock!). I do hope you enjoy this report, which for me was the highlight of 2010.

5 June 2010, Narrow Gauge at the Exeter Model Railway Exhibition

I don’t often attend “mainstream” model railway exhibitions, but as there were no specialist narrow gauge model railway events or 009 Society area group members days in my diary at all during June, I decided to put a set of batteries into the Roving Reporter camera, fire up the Nissan and join the traffic queues heading into Devonshire to pay a visit to the Exe Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition in Exeter on Saturday the 5th of June. This turned out to be a good decision as the SWOONS (South West 009 Modellers) Group were there in force with a very professionally presented publicity display plus 5 of their own Group member’s layouts and 3 more provided by fellow 009 Society members from out of area.
An added bonus for me was that amongst the 40 layouts in the main part of the exhibition, I came across David Taylor’s superb 0-16.5 7mm scale Bridport Town, one of my own favourites and acknowledged as one of the best narrow gauge layouts in any scale currently on the exhibition circuit.
A great model railway event in a superb venue with lots of space, good facilities and a friendly organising team; overall it was a splendid way to spend a summer Saturday!

Saturday 30 April 2011

1 May 2010, Narrow Gauge Midlands, Wolverley near Kidderminster

The West Midlands Narrow Gauge Group held their members open day for 2010 at the Wolverley Memorial Hall just outside Kidderminster, on Saturday 1st May 2010.

Despite it being the May bank holiday weekend, and there being several concurrent narrow gauge distractions around the country (Porthmadog, Cleethorpes and Bognor Regis (SWING event) all come immediately to mind), there were still some 60 narrow gauge modellers who had their priorities right, and joined in for a very well organised fun, informal and friendly day. I travelled with Brian Guilmant as escort to the 009 Society salesmobile and Brian reported a very good day’s trading for this type of small event. 7 layouts attended and Allen Doherty brought his Worsley Works sales down from Manchester and additionally ran a soldering workshop that was much appreciated by those that participated.

Stars of the show undoubtedly were Jane Webb and Janet Hill of the 84th Birmingham Guides, who provided a superb refreshment service all day. All present were so impressed by the standard of sustenance provided that I was asked to re-open the travelling catering assessment column that I used to write for 009 News until the hatemail from supporters of those events that could only aspire to 1 or 2 stars for providing pink sludge filled sausage rolls and sour coffee caused me to go back to reporting on the trainsets exhibited instead. So, by popular request, it gave me great pleasure to award the Birmingham Guides Catering Team 5 stars with a lettuce leaf cluster on their woggles for their super service. Now back to the trains…….!

Thursday 28 April 2011

10 April 2010, Narrow Gauge South, Sparsholt College, Winchester

What a monster of a day! NGS this year, hosted by the Wessex NGM's and the final one to be organised by our retiring "chef du layout par excellence" Howard Coulson, was simply the biggest and many commented that in their opinion the best, one day narrow gauge show there has ever been. There were a total of 46 narrow gauge layouts, many of which were BIG ones, 33 of which were within the small scale bracket covered by the 009 Society who were concurrently holding their AGM at the venue, and there were no less than 23 trade and society/association stands in support. (which was amazingly described by one commentator on his website as “a smattering of traders”…..). Many of the layouts that attended would have easily been “star attractions” on their own at some lesser mainstream “national” and even “international” events. The fact that they were all gathered together and both celebrity and first time exhibits (of which there were a good number) were given equal standing, without any form of discrimination or elitism, which also occurs in some shows that I have attended, made the day the very friendly and informal one that all who have been to Sparsholt before appreciate so much, and the circumstances of this particular occasion made it a very special day as evidenced by the large number of visitors and participants who took the trouble to personally pay their own compliments at the end of what was a very long day for most who were there, particularly the hosting team!

In order to shoehorn an impression of the day into this gallery, I have had to severely restrict the number of photos that I have allowed for each layout in a quest to provide a photo souvenir for those that came and to show those that couldn’t come what a great variety of layouts there were, to just one or two in most cases. I have however managed (I think!) to include at least one photo of every layout that was present – I am quite pleased with myself at that, even though the pace of the day meant that all photos taken were quick opportunity auto-focus unposed snaps.  It took several days to recover my eyesight and feet from rushing from room to room from 0730 until close of play and viewing the whole show through a camera viewfinder! One of these days I will attend a show without a camera and I might actually get to see the layouts and enjoy the detail in them which you don’t see when trying to line up suitable photographic angles!

I don't know how other ng show organisers are going to match this one in future events, but if you did attend, then you will know that you participated in what will probably go down in the narrow gauge modelling annals as a unique and never to be repeated event! If you could have gone but didn't, or if you did go but only gave some of the rooms a passing glance and didn’t stay long enough to take in the full panoply of the day, then start kicking yourself now, you’ve only got yourself to blame!

7 March 2010, Romsey Model Railway Exhibition

I made a flying morning visit to Romsey on 7 March in order to take the first opportunity of seeing Howard Coulson's new HOe Belgian layout "Beaulieu les Mines". Like his previous well known East African "Eitomo", which clocked up over 100 exhibition attendances before passing to a new owner, the new layout is full of colour and once Howard has populated the busy and narrow streets of the town with figures, it will be a bustling scene that is full of life. Lots of potential and it was a pleasure to see the new layout "in the flesh" after the long months for Howard of getting it to an exhibitable state. A further opportunity to see this new layout will occur on 10 April at Narrow Gauge South.

An added bonus was another brief encounter with Graham Lindley's popular and also very colourful 009 "Lyddbridge", which I have photographed on numerous previous occasions, but there are always new angles to find and new items of stock to capture in the lens!

20 February 2010, Narrow Gauge South West, Shepton Mallet

Something strange going on down Zummerzet way! Why is it that whatever the weather has decided to do in February, it is always exactly the same on “Small & Delightful” show day? I have never known a Narrow Gauge South West at Shepton Mallet when it hasn't been bitterly cold outside, like a blast furnace inside and with
fiercely strong winter sunshine lancing through the south facing windows doing its upmost to ruin even the best roving reportage photographic efforts - and this year it was exactly the same for the umpteenth year running!

The programme announced that this was the 18th Small & Delightful "do"; not sure about this as last year it was apparently the 16th and the year before was definitely the 15th, and the 2007 event was the 14th! There were a number of other “typos” in the programme, so I think we can safely assume that it was actually the 17th NGSW! Doesn’t matter really does it!]

The other major change to the “tradition” of Shepton Mallet is that the world famous “Maggie & Flo’s Bistro” has now officially been renamed as “Penny & Flo’s Bistro”. Actually Maggie told me that she had not been involved with the bistro for 2 years now. It’s all academic to me anyway as yet again I didn’t have time to stop by and enjoy the delicious looking goodies on offer, but I know that hundreds of others did!

Above all else NGSW is the annual early spring meeting up of the like-minded afflicted to call the roll of those that made the effort to attend (over 800 including participants), enjoy the range of trade temptations and superb modelling and to catch up on topical gossip! Despite some late cancellations on both the trade and layout fronts, Chairman Alan Eadle, Exhibition Manager and Group Secretary Howard Martin, Car Parking Sergeant Major Barrie Baker and everyone else in the hard working S&D home team managed to put together another super show which covered the whole scale spectrum from "T" up to 16mm. 28 layouts altogether, just enough to wear me out completely trying to get round them all! I’ve tried to keep my photo selection concise but have still need a giant set of over 100 snaps to try to give a representative flavour of another great event and another super day out. If you haven't been to Shepton Mallet for NG South West yet, it's one that you really must do!


Tuesday 26 April 2011

17 January 2010, Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

It has now become something of a tradition amongst those who “keep up with the curve” to find themselves halfway through January each year and already have 2 super narrow gauge modelling events under their belts. This year was no different, despite the weather and the cancellation of a couple of large commercial shows due mainly to the reluctance of some layout owners to risk travelling.

A couple of days before the Beds & Bucks NG Group members open day at Barton le Clay in Bedfordshire, organiser Mark Howe feared the worst as several of his own booked layouts cancelled, but the Group showed some good British Dunkirk spirit and rallied to the call-up of the reserves with a vengeance! So much so in fact that the final roll-call on the day found no less than 18 narrow gauge layouts, and not all of them tiny micro’s, being set up in the village hall. That is 2 more layouts than were presented at Expong folks!

Around 100 enthusiasts plus those who were participating made for another superb informal and friendly day out that the affiliated area groups of the 009 Society have become so successful at laying on. Full marks to all of the Beds and Bucks Group and to everyone who enjoyed the day. If you have not yet been to one of these smaller informal events, you really are missing out on enjoying the “core” of the hobby, whatever scale your modelling interests are.

Monday 25 April 2011

9 January 2010, SWOONS Members Open Day, Ilton, Somerset

New Year 2010 in the UK started with the coldest spell experienced for over 30 years accompanied by heavy snowfalls and treacherous ice which brought the whole country to a near standstill. They're made of good old fashioned Hardy (excuse the pun) stock down in the South Western counties though and undeterred by a bit of a cold snap, the South West 009 Society (SWOONS) area group made the brave decision to "keep calm and carry on". Although attendance was understandably lower than previous years, there were still some 40 narrow gauge modelling enthusiasts present, and I spotted friends and acquaintances from as far afield as Birmingham.

Another splendid way to start the year off amongst like-minded modellers in a relaxed, informal and friendly spirit. Much appreciation to all the SWOONS members and associates for their efforts in keeping the narrow gauge flag flying so strongly.

8 November 2009 - Northampton & District NG Modellers Open Day, Weedon Bec

Sunday 8th November and I found myself “on the road” at 0630 in a damp cold and gloomy November morning with Brian Guilmant and his 009 Society salesmobile heading north towards the village of Weedon Bec just off the A5 Watling Street Roman road for the 3rd biennial Northampton & District Narrow Gauge Modellers “members and friends open day”, another of those small narrow gauge area group organised events that features a variety of narrow gauge layouts where model railway enthusiasts who know what is good get together and enjoy a day of informal and friendly like-minded fellowship.

In this case around 100 people converged from all 4 points of the compass and I spotted fellow modelling acquaintances from central Wales, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex, the West Midlands, Hampshire, Dorset in the case of Brian and myself and of course adjoining midland counties! We arrived in good time to set up what was remaining of the sales after the locusts had descended at Expong the weekend before, and managed to devour the most enormous doorstep sausage and bacon sandwich that had been provided by the 5 star catering team of Julie Cope and colleagues. There were 10 ng layouts, 2 Society/Association sales stands, a 16mm scale display and a very good railway artist was also present (apologies for not noting his name – it wasn’t in the programme!). Some modellers wax lyrical about the “major” MRX’s, Warley, York etc, some consider that the only shows worth making the effort to travel to are the major ng shows such as Expong, Shepton Mallet and Sparsholt – which are actually all MUCH better than wasting huge entrance fees on the big mainstream shows, but for many of us, myself included, what the hobby is REALLY all about is the smaller friendly and informal area group members/open days that this one was such as good example of.

31 October 2009 - Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley

Following the special circumstances of Expong 2008, this years’ event was always going to be something of an anti-climax from some perspectives, however although it was quite a “light” show with regards to the number of layouts attending: just 15 out of a total of 66 stands, it cannot be disputed that the quality of the layouts that were on show was extremely high. But Expong is not simply about the number of narrow gauge layouts that are exhibited; it is the undisputed magnet for all the specialist traders that support this end of the model railway spectrum and for everyone who is either involved in or a supporter of narrow gauge railways, full size and model, to meet up for both a major social gathering and to empty wallets before the money gets wasted on the family Christmas shopping!

I thoroughly enjoyed the day as I expected to and I would like to express my own appreciation to Hazel Brewer and her fellow Greenwich & District NG Society members for working so hard to both welcome arrivals on Friday night and Saturday morning and to maintain the hard work throughout the actual event to ensure that both participants and paying visitors enjoyed a splendidly organised and smooth running show.

Recently I had a page published in 009 News that included photos of some of the traders who support the hobby rather than the models themselves. This proved to be very popular so I have kept to this theme for the start of this report and have featured as wide a selection as I could showing some of the personalities that support narrow gauge modelling, and because I know that some people like to put faces to names. I hope this proves as popular as the 009 News article was and I apologise if I have inadvertently omitted anyone who should have been included – please let me know and I will try to get you in the lens next time!

Saturday 23 April 2011

15 August 2009 - Wiltshire Group 009 Society Members Day and MOMING 09, Pewsey

The 12th biennial event organised by the Wiltshire Group of the 009 Society, and the 3rd occasion that they had hosted the "exhibition within an exhibition" "Modelling the Minimum Gauge" (MOMING), ably coordinated by well-known minimum gauge modeller and enthusiast, Christopher Payne.

With 9 009 layouts, 8 "MOMING" in various scales between 09 and 1:22.5, an outstanding display of 15mm scale Irish NG models by John Campbell and Neil Ramsay, a very good presence from the specialist trade support (much appreciated chaps!) covering both 009 and MOMING specialities, and probably the best, stickiest and sweetest lardy cake that I have ever sampled, it all added up to another memorable, friendly, informal and enjoyable day out in deepest Wiltshire - an experience shared by over 200 other narrow gauge modellers who travelled considerable distances in some cases to be there. If you could have gone but didn't bother, you really should put Pewsey in your diary for next time - but you will have to wait until 2011!

Friday 22 April 2011

19 July 2009 - More County Donegal Delights at the Bradford on Avon MRX

Although Andy Cundick had announced that his 00n3 County Donegal layout "Letterkenny" was having its final outing before retirement at the Donegal MRX in May (covered in my earlier collection), he decided to give it "just one more showing" at the Bradford on Avon show on 19 July, and as I live within an hour's drive, I just had to make the effort to snap up some of the stuff I had missed before whilst there was still an opportunity to see this super layout!

An added bonus that I discovered on arrival was the presence of 2 more excellent narrow gauge layouts, both in unusual scales: Christopher Payne's 1:34 scale St Pierre et La Rue Perrin and William Loyd's Sn3 (1:64 scale on 14.2mm gauge track) Oro Grande Railroad. Although the primary purpose of my visit to Bradford on Avon was to take a last chance to capture some more photos of Letterkenny, I have also included a small selection of snaps of these 2 layouts - they are both far too good to ignore!

23-24 May 2009 - A Weekend In Donegal

Well, after I had given my County Donegal Railways inspired 009 railcars and Irish cattle train a run through Ted Polet's Rae Bridge at the 009 Society AGM and Charlie Insley had described it as "A Hibernian moment", there was nothing for it really but to load the camera into the car and head off across the Irish Sea in order to attend the model railway exhibition that the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre manager, Ann Temple, and her staff had been working very hard to organise in order to publicise the ongoing project that the CDRRL has to recreate a little bit of the County Donegal Railways by building a tourist railway through the Barnesmore Gap, a few miles out of Donegal on the old line to Stranorlar.

I managed to dovetail a couple of visits to the exhibition in over the weekend with a pre-arranged "grand road trip to Ireland" with my son, and because of the very tight schedule, my presence with camera in front of the layouts was always going to be rather rushed, but despite that I managed to capture a goodly number of geranium red and cream flavoured images, which I am pleased to share with those interested in such things here....

The only disappointments were 2 "no-shows" of booked narrow gauge layouts that let down both the travelling visitors (such as myself) and Ann Temple and her team. One layout owner pulled out at a late stage after publicity had already been placed in the modelling press, whilst a club owned layout of Fivemiletown on the Clogher Valley, which I was particularly looking forward to seeing, turned out on the day to be an 00 gauge "tail chaser" layout complete with Thomas the Tank! When tasked about this, the club spokesperson simply stated that "they had brought Fivemiletown to the Donegal exhibition last year and thought they would bring one of their other layouts this time to make a change". Wrong answer guys and both the organiser and visitors who had paid a lot of money to attend (eg me) were not very happy bunnies at all.

However, those layout owners that did make the effort to attend more than compensated for that let-down. For me, the highlight of the trip was an opportunity to see some of the 5mm scale models made by George Hanan in the 1950's and 60's which are on permanent display in the Heritage Centre. Photographing these models was certainly a bit of a challenge, but I think  that I managed to capture a good representation in this collection. See Railway Modeller July 1959 and March 1963 to learn about George Hanan's County Donegal Railway models!

9 May 2009 - 009 Society AGM & Members Day, Edlington, South Yorkshire

For some reason the 9th of May was a particularly popular one in the narrow gauge calendar, with the NG Railway Society and the 7mm NGA also having their AGM's. However about 100 009 Society members put these distractions to one side and found their way to the outskirts of Doncaster and enjoyed a really splendid informal, very well organised and friendly event - despite having to stop the main business of the day for 90 minutes whilst the formal proceedings of the AGM took place.

After several years of 009 Society AGM's not making it further north than Birmingham, it was a pleasure to be back in Yorkshire this year (and I remembered to pack an extra jumper and snow chains just in case.....). I noticed that I was not the only lunatic to have vacated my warm bed in Dorset at 3 AM in order to be there, as I spotted fellow members from Exeter, Bristol, Somerset and Croydon as well as those from north of the Watford Gap who had easier journeys and didn't have to worry about having their visas validated at M1 junction 15A "gateway to the frozen north".

10 layouts were assembled by the co-hosting South Yorkshire and Lampoons (Leeds & Morley) Groups, from east and west of the Pennines and Tyneside, plus a special guest appearance of Ted Polet and his brother Marcel, who had brought the Rae Bridge module of Ted's famous Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway across from Leiden in Holland. It was very fitting that at the AGM, Ted was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the 009 Society in recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to the 009 Society and narrow gauge modelling in general over many years. A very worthy and popular accolade.

The only problem encountered on the day, besides the little one of staying awake on the homeward drive, was the bright sunlight coming through the large windows of the school hall venue, causing some challenges to photography - well that was my excuse for some of the very grainy and washed out images that were the best that I could achieve from the almost silhouette starkness of the originals! Nevertheless, I hope that I have managed to salvage a reasonable selection here to give a fair impression of what was a really grand day

19 April 2009 - Narrow Gauge at Wimborne Model Railway Exhibition

With no specialist narrow gauge modelling events scheduled for April this year, there was a possibility of a photo famine, but fortunately, the excellent biennial Wimborne MRX, thanks to a heavy narrow gauge following in the ranks of the hosts, the Wimborne Railway Society, can be relied upon to come up with the goods and this year was no exception, with 4 good layouts providing welcome relief amongst the engines with milk churns instead of brass domes on top of their boilers (picture a a GWR loco.....) and (horrors!) - DCC modern image with authentic diesel sound effects - arrgh!

For our delectation and delight, we had: Roy Wood's 0-16.5 Crichel and Peter Hollins' 0-14 Norden Mine in 7mm scale, with the still-growing 30 feet plus of the host Society's Tarrant Valley and John Thorne's Purbeck in 009. I've photographed all of these layouts before, but still welcomed the opportunity to point the camera at them again, particularly Crichel, which I've snapped about 4 times previously since 2003, each time unsuccessfully! Norden provided a further opportunity to supplement a single visit at the Weymouth MRX in October 2007 (Volume 4), whilst both Tarrant Valley and Purbeck had a number of new items of rolling stock previously un-snapped. I hope there is something in my selection to please most of you!

Thursday 21 April 2011

7 March 2009 - Sussex Downs 009 Group Members Day, Haywards Heath

Another 009 Society area group event, the 3rd this year, following the same successful formula used by the SWOONS and Beds & Bucks Groups in January - a selection of layouts provided by Group members and invited friends, some trade support from Meridian Models and Nigel Lawton in this case, Brian Guilmant and team with the aladdin's cave known as 009 Society Members Sales and a very well organised refreshments facility. Mix all together with friendly informality and ambient fellowship, add around 100 attenders and you have a great day out!
This little event was very well organised by Tim Sanderson and a hard working team from the hosting group and was attended by many narrow gauge modellers "in the know" who had travelled long distances in some cases to be there. If you haven't managed to get to one of these informal group days and it is practicable for you to do so then you really should put it in your diary and make it a priority to attend - so much better in many ways than the big shows. I hope my photo selection gives something of a taste of most of the good modelling that was there to be enjoyed. Congratulations Sussex Downs Group, looking forward to the next one already!

21 February 2009 - Narrow Gauge South West, Shepton Mallet

A bright spring day and huge numbers of narrow gauge modelling enthusiasts headed for Shepton Mallet in Somerset for the 16th annual modelfest splendidly organised by the hard working Small & Delightful team. Delightful it certainly was, small it certainly wasn't with over 30 layouts present in all scales from 2mm to 16mm and an attendance by just about all the UK based specialist narrow gauge modelling traders, including Parkside Dundas all the way from Kirkcaldy, in Fife, 450 miles and 10 hours drive away.

Many people that I spoke to considered that this was the best NGSW yet and the 009 Society reported record sales figures. I noticed that the crowds around the 7mm NGA stand were much deeper than usual as well. I think everyone must be spending their pounds while they still have some value left!

My only disappointment was that there was so much to see and it was such a challenge getting the camera lens through the crowds and in front of layouts that I did not have time to do my customary quality control check on the famous cake selection available at "The Bistro". Such sacrifice in the cause of keeping up with the demand for photos, I hope that you agree that it was worth the effort as I snapped some really good models, despite having to abandon plans for posed photos with the camera on the tripod etc and just "point and shoot". I hope you enjoy my selection of what there was to see on the day anyway.

18 January 2009 - Beds & Bucks NG Modellers Members Open Day, Barton Le Clay

The second narrow gauge modelling-fest in successive weeks, and it is still January! Sunday 18th Jan found me and my new camera (a Fuji S100FS - fantastic value for money, and great results, despite it being me pressing the buttons!) in Bedfordshire at Barton Le Clay village hall, where about 100 participants, "support staff" and visitors arrived to enjoy one of those well organised, informal and friendly events amongst a selection of really top quality narrow gauge model railway layouts that has become a hallmark of the 009 Society particularly in recent years. Brian Guilmant enhanced the proceedings of course by bringing the fantastic members sales operation up from his home in Dorset, which filled a complete room in the hall.

Appreciation is extended to Mark Howe and his fellow group members for the huge effort put in to ensure that this was a really "grand day out". Well worth the longish and ever-more expensive journey and very much up to the high standard that we enjoyed at last year's successful event at the same venue. Thanks to you all!

10 January 2009 - SWOONS Members Open Day, Ilton, Somerset

The South West Area Group of the 009 Society (SWOONS) held their 3rd Members Open Day at the Merryfield Hall in the small village of Ilton, between Yeovil and Taunton in Somerset (and the second that I have covered in this Volume) and again what a super way to start the new year and meet up with the 80-plus narrow gauge modelling enthusiasts, or simply curious who attended to take part in another of the regular small informal and friendly village hall experiences that has by now become an established and enviable series of events within the 009 Society.
I counted 13 exhibits ranging from a micro "pizza" and a Gn15 mini-diorama through to full sized layouts that had been provided by SWOONS members and supplemented by friends from the Wessex NG Modellers, an excellent buffet service run by Moreen Golding and her team and the world famous travelling 009 Society Sales courtesy of Brian Guilmant. If you live in the UK and think that these little events are not worth travelling to get to, the 80-odd who did come to rural Somerset for this occasion had travelled from: Yorkshire, Essex, Surrey, West Midlands, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Avon, Devon, Cornwall, Hampshire and Dorset (and these were just the people I know!) as well as the home county.
A very enjoyable, informal and friendly day, that was superbly organised by an enthusiastic and hard-working Group. Thanks to you all and I look forward to the next one!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Charlie Insley's 009 Trains, 1998 to 2008

In an 009 News in 2008, fellow 009 Society member and modelling colleague, Dr Charles Insley, described me as "Society basher-in-chief" in an article describing how he had evolved my own railcar kitbashing style to produce his own articulated railcar based on a Dapol Park Royal 00 scale railbus kit. Whilst I take this as a great compliment, I regard being described thus by Charles as being akin to a comparison between the Dorset Amateur (me) and the European Champions (Charles) leagues, so in order to give a correct perspective to the very prolific, imaginative and skilled output of what must be one of the, if not the, most active modelmakers in the world of 009 narrow gauge modelling I have put together a collection of photos that I have taken at model railway exhibitions over the years of just some of Charles' many items of 009 rolling stock.

I first met Charles and Elizabeth Insley in 1998 at an 009 Society members day in St Helens and since then have accumulated a hefty collection of photographs of their several layouts that I have taken at various narrow gauge model railway events.

This gallery acts as something of a tribute to Charlie's superb skill at model railway stock building from assembling and detailing kits through adapting kits and "kitbashes" to models that have totally scratchbuilt bodies. This gallery merely scratches the surface; I have generally only covered locomotives and railcars, and even then my photos do not come close to covering the whole of Charlie's collection. In addition to the 009 models featured here, there are also an impressive number of models of Irish 3ft gauge prototypes modelled in 3mm scale (TTn3).

Generally I have attempted to provide just one photo of each model that I have managed to photograph, however there are some duplications which I have retained as they show different angles to a subject or may feature a locomotive with different rolling stock etc.

I hope you enjoy this selection and if you are an 009 modeller that you may find more than a little in the area of good ideas and inspiration for your own modelling.