Monday, 15 January 2018

CMRA Exhibition

The Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition  has never attracted my attention before, but when I looked at this year's list of layouts a number stood out, especially Arun Quay.

And so last Sunday I caught the slow train to Stevenage. 

First impressions were not good, with no signage to the appropriate entrance, apparent chaos in the the ticket office and crowds around the first few layouts. On the plus side the volunteers were all friendly, and the exhibition guide was substantial with decent layout track plans in colour.

One of the layouts near the top of my "must see" list was the 3mm scale Lakebank. I do like 3mm scale and Lakebank is a good example of it. I did struggle to get any decent photos of it though. Actually, I struggled to get decent pictures of any of the layouts despite using my trusty Fuji XM-1 which is normally ideal for exhibtions. Partly that was down to the lighting, both in the halls and on individual layouts, and partly, if I'm honest, down to me taking a risk and using different settings from normal. Lesson learned

Next to Lakebank was Addison Park, another 3mm layout but this time of an LT station. Perhaps a little impressionistic it still rewarded a few minutes of my time, and by then the crowd had started to thin a little.

Those who can remember that this blog started out being based around the Tanat Valley Railway will know I have a soft spot for the Cambrian, but not for unpronounceable names like Llangerisech. This was one of the many excellent 2mm layouts at the show. Not the easiest line to photograph under exhibition conditions, a tripod and focus stacking would do it a lot more justice.There is something jewel-like about a really well-modelled 2mm coach.

And talking of jewel-like, what about this exquisite 2mm narrow gauge WIP?

Staying with a Welsh theme we come to Ynysbwl. Oh if ever a layout would be greatly improved by even a simple white backscene!

I've got mixed feelings about Shelvington and Rydes Hill. I like it, but I think the narrowness of the baseboards makes it look slightly artificial The really well-modelled CLASP station building also brings back too many memories of waiting on Sunningdale Station for the last train, which often never turned up. The bridge and the disused platform track are nice touches, as is the use of technology to display what it going on.

Bridges were one of the themes of the show, along with wartime settings. A layout that brought both together was The Bridge at Remagen, though you wouldn't know it from this picture of the paddle steamer 

Now I come to think of it  a lot of layouts featured ships, as well as a wartime setting, so I guess it is time to talk about Kingswear. If golf is a good walk spoiled, then Kingswear is, for me, a good layout spoiled by the WW2 element. Having said which it was clearly a popular aspect of it with the public, and it is quite well done.

Keeping with the South Western theme I really liked the 7mm broad gauge Teign House Sidings

Whilst maintaining the riverside theme was Lower Exbury

And then there was Sutton Wharf

So talking of quays...

Even Martin has enthused over Arun Quay . In fact I was expecting crowds around it and struggling to get a decent photo of it at one of its first public outings.

Far from it.

Why? It is undoubtedly wonderfully modelled, with some really good and different scenic ideas. The Wow factor is I suppose reduced for anyone who already knows Maggie and Gordon's work. It is exactly what you would expect from them. Phil Parker probably put his finger on it when we were chatting about it earlier today "We are all going to end up taking exactly the same photos of it" Now he also added, and I think he is right, that part of the fun will be seeing the detail that gets added over time.

Mers les Bain, in 1/32nd scale, is perhaps what Maggie and Gordon's Pempoul might have looked like if it had been built with the aid of shots of calvados.  It is rather good, though also rather populated. But look at the set piece of the boules players. It is a great example of figures in a natural looking static pose.

Staying with narrow gauge in France we have another wartime layout, Up The Line

And another intriguing narrow gauge line is the live steam Hambledon Valley. You really have to see this one running to appreciate it.

That might also be true of the Aerial & Pickles line that features working transporter bridge. I did take a video, but trust me, it is so slow watching paint dry is more exciting.

But at least it gives me a lead into the other American themed layout, Mauch Chunk

By now my ability to keep a narrative theme going is reaching its limit. So the last layouts to get a mention are fairly random.

Rannoch Moor, another 2mm line, supports my view that you don't always need a train in the picture

But if you do want a train it might as well feature my favourite little Tanat Valley 2-4-0, as here on Sandford & Banwell.