Quiet. That's how we'll remember this years Banbury show. The crowds never seemed to get going really. Despite hitting the organisers break even figure, the atmosphere was that of a quiet Sunday show model railway show. Sadly there hadn't been a busy Saturday to precede it. There were a few grumpy traders around I understand. The trouble with a one day event is that there is only one bite at the cherry for all concerned.
The reason for the lack of numbers is difficult to pin down. The day dawned bright and mild which might have encouraged people to get out and about rather than spend time in a school looking at toy trains. It was also the first weekend after the credit card statement would have arrived with those "back to school" purchases on it. At least one major show was happening elsewhere, but one I'd have expected to sap the audience much for this event.
One problem was a lack of on-line advertising. Banbury MRC don't have a website at present and worse, the entry on UK Modelshops directory hadn't been confirmed and so anyone using Google to find out more would be disappointed by being met with "click here to confirm" by the listing. Now, this was simply because no-one from the club had confirmed it but many people will have wondered if the show was really taking place. OK, so the vital Railway Modeller diary entry had been made but like it or not, more and more people will check the web. I know I did when sat at work wondering what the opening times were.
Anyway, the show itself was pretty good. We turned up with Flockburgh and quickly carried everything from the camper to the classroom. Space was a touch tight but by slewing the layout at an angle we fitted beautifully. Sharing our space was the layout Deltic Avenue and trader Model World @ Oxford.
The morning session was very chatty. Very chatty indeed, Nice to meet a couple of readers (Hello) of this blog. Although my web stats tell me that people are reading this drivel, seeing real live people is better still. At some time my Dad nipped of to get some tea and came back with delicious home made chocolate cake as well. Now this is what matters to exhibitors - good quality cake. The afternoon a lot quieter but with more families.
Being held in a school, the show stretched out over several classrooms and a main hall. In this could be found the winner of the best layout plus a group of guys from Milton Keynes Model Railway Society who were, in my opinion, robbed. Their layout - Milton Quays - is absolutely breathtaking. 40ft of quayside, large MPD and terminus station in EM gauge. Now I'm not one to get excited about larger model railways but this is stupendous. And an excellent pun in the name too. The waterside track plan is spot on. The warehouses are a lovely, and realistic, mix of old and new. There is the Weymouth harbormasters house (as seen on Melbridge Dock too) built as an adjunct to a larger and just as prototypical building. The only downside were some running problems early in the day. Mind you taking a model this size to a one day show shows either enthusiasm or madness.
Tradewise, there were several RTR merchants and a bit of a mix of other stands. My feeling was that there had been changes since last year and generally these were good news. Again, for a one day show things weren't bad although perhaps a bit light in the 4mm kit area. I didn't need much and so my wallet felt little paint. Just a second hand DVD with African Garratts on it. And a magazine from a pile with a little note begging for them to be taken away free !
Many people ignore the provincial show and in this case I'd have said the three quid entry fee would have been excellent value for money.