After another busy week at work, a little railway therapy was called for. Derek Atfield suggested a visit to the Alton show, and this seemed altogether a good idea. We arrived at 10am and wondered why there was no queue outside – easy, it opened at 10:30am. At least we got one of the last car park spaces, although the smell of frying bacon from the kitchen was cruel, to say the least.
It turned out to be a very worthwhile visit. Some very good layouts, and good trade support (and even better, I only bought some very cheap wagons.) My show highlight was Wyandotte Siding, a Southern Pacific Californian branchline in HO.
I very much liked the sense of identity and location in the model – you knew it was SP without a train on the layout. In the photograph below we have palms, a fruit growers association shed, citrus trees (in the background) and sugar beet being loaded in the foreground. Along with the parched ground cover, and the backscene showing flat land with distant mountains, it could only be SP in Ca.
Further down the layout was a grain silo and a small depot building – again with the correct local character.
They were operating the layout to a timetable, UK style, and the first train to arrive was a pair of ‘covered wagons’ in ‘Black Widow’ livery. A little later a short steam hauled goods passed in the other direction.
It’s interesting how people’s perceptions are different. I loved this layout, and could stand and look at the detail even when there were no trains. Derek thought it was very sparse and that there was nothing to look at…. Funny how we all see things differently and have different aspirations in our modelling. I did agree with Derek, though, that a little work was needed to disguise the join between layout and backscene. Always difficult to do with a flat landscape, as there are no convenient bumps to hide the join.
However, as we walked around the show a second time together, we were rewarded with this meet of two goods trains. I also noted that things had been happening, as there were more reefers spotted in the fruit growers association siding.
My other favourite was Merstone, an accurate model of the Isle of Wight station in Southern Railway days. Lots of lovely IOW stock, including some models of its unique passenger and goods rolling stock. This is certainly my favourite part of the UK for railways, with intense holiday passenger service run with antique cast-offs from the mainland.
Next post, I’ll look at some of the other layouts.