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.

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!