London Festival of Railway Modelling: 2022

So yesterday I had a day out in ‘the big smoke’ with a trip to Alexandra Palace. Getting there and back from rural Norfolk was an interesting challenge given the Anglian Main Line was shut at Shenfield. Consequently, Richard ended up going via Cambridge, on a route that required 5 trains to get there and another 4 to get back.

Before we move on to models, I must just say that all 9 trains ran so close to on time you would not believe. Worst delay of the day was a whole 2 minutes. Not bad eh! Within the first hour I had also had knowing discussions with two members of staff from Greater Anglia. “Ah, I know why you are going there today, I couldn’t get the day off”. Anyway, on to the main event and the exhibition, a venue that was a first time for me yesterday.

General Thoughts?

It was nice to see it as busy as it was. And also with a more diverse demographic than at previous exhibitions 2/3 years ago. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it had shifted completely though. But, there were more ‘middle aged’ modellers than would have been seen before.

The exhibition itself had a good selection of layouts from throughout the eras and the scales. For which the organising committee must be commended. Too often, N Gauge and modern image my two main interests are mere after thoughts.

Personal Favourite?

For me, it was Gravelly Oak. This layout for me is an excellent example of what can be achieved by using a smaller scale. For a layout with not more than about 6 foot of visible area, the quantity of scenics was fantastic.

Gravelly Oak looking left

Set in the West Midlands, the layout is very much ‘up to date’. The level of detail shown even down to all the signs on the lamp posts shows what you can achieve. Consequently, I had a bit of layout envy I must admit. I wish I had been able to take, more photos yesterday. However, I was suffering from a shortage of electricity in my phone which meant I had to be very sparing. You can see why Railway Modeller chose to feature this layout in their magazine.

Gravelly Oak looking right

I also really enjoyed the demonstration in computer control done well that is ‘Yorkshire Pennines’. Sadly by this point, not enough electricity had become no electricity for my phone. As such, I have no pictures but it is well worth a watch is you see it out and about.

‘Celebrity’ Layouts

Yesterday was the first time I had seen a couple of internet ‘celebrities’ in the flesh.

Deadmans Lane which has an extensive construction thread on RMWeb was very impressive. I spent a lot of time watching that yesterday and it ran faultlessly all the time I was there. The quality of the modelling and level of attention to detail in modifying and customising the rolling stock is just something else. Virtually nothing running was ‘out of the box’ and you really couldn’t tell. Nor could anyone else judging by the comments people were making while I was stood there. If you see that Deadmans Lane is coming to an exhibition near you, I would suggest it is worth the entrance fee on it’s own.

Oak Road by Mike Buick is another with an extensive construction thread on RM Web. It has also featured in the modelling press, and generally everywhere as it is fundraising in support of the Meningitis Trust. As is seemingly always the case with Oak Road, this had a lot of junior fans throughout the day. It is an excellent display of what can be achieved without over complicating things. It also has the ability to run full length trains including HSTs. These were popular with the younger fans everytime one rolled through the station, and the excitement noticeable with them should they cross at the same time.

I don’t know if it was just me being unlucky, or a bad day. But every time I visited the layout there seemed to be ‘hand of Mike’ moments. And when there wasn’t one of those there was feverish activity in the fiddle yard, with one train or another being tinkered with and muttered about. For me though, it all added to the charm.

Next Up?

There is half a chance I will do the Sheffield show on the 2nd and 3rd April. I have to be in Yorkshire on the monday morning anyway, so this seems an ideal opportunity to do it. Plus, I’ll be getting paid mileage to travel up North. Consequently, ‘legitimising’ the detour.

If not then it looks like the next one will be a local exhibition for me. Norwich Model Railway Club have their annual exhibition the following weekend on the 9th April at Hellesden High School in Norwich. This is listed as having 14 layouts on show across multiple scales, so should be well worth a visit.

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