Churchrail exhibition has a special place in my heart for it is here where something happened that has never occurred before or since. I won the raffle. Not only that, it was a decent prize - significant contribution towards a Hornby loco. That's why I have a Q1 in my collection. Presumably because of this, the show hasn't taken place for 5 years.
In 2010 though, Mark was prevailed (bullied and cajoled) to run it again as a fundraiser. The venue had moved from its previous church hall to a school. The programme promised 20 stands including 3 traders. Not a bad effort for 3 quid. And as any fule know, little, local shows run to raise money for schools will be selling home made cake which is a good enough reason to visit.
Wandering around the percentage of layouts that caught my eye was higher than normal. First up, one for the collectors, the largest display of Triang Big-Big railways I have ever seen. All the locos were on shows, several Hymeks, the 0-4-0 steam and diesels and a couple of rare (well I'd never seen them before) 0-6-0's from the range. All the wagons and accessories were on the tables too although I didn't see the barrel dropping thing work, I'm sure it would.
The kids loved it of course, 4 trains at a time running including one shuttling back and forth along the back. For the discerning enthusiast you could play "spot the different mouldings" - who knew for example that the Australians made a rip-off Hymek ? I means I know the nation are formed from our criminal outcasts but still. Mind you they did glaze theirs so it is technically a better model.
Summat Colliery looked good - a little bit of a coal mine in a surprisingly small space. Mines are usually great sprawling sites which would need quite a considerable space to model. Despite this, the result here is pretty impressive. The builder hasn't tried to cram everything in but instead concentrated on the loading screens and a decent length brick building. No winding gear here and it's all the better for it. The screens cleverly hide a sector plate too.
In N gauge I liked Highley Unlikely which is a little bit of Severn Valley Railway in the space you'd normally associate with a bookshelf. The builder, Tim, likes small layouts as he, like me, gets bored easily and wants to see results from his model making time. The buildings are mostly kit-bashed yet fit the scene very nicely. The end result is also very attractive and hopefully will convince a few people that they can build a model that can be allowed in the house rather than hidden in the shed.
Finally, "Layout I would like to build" prize goes to Lesspoint. This is a micro layout with the gimmick that there are no points on the visible section. Instead there is a small terminus station with track disappearing under a bridge. Behind this is a sector plate that allows all the operation - trains can move from one road to another or be shuffled into the fiddle yard, where there is a single turnout.
The modelling is to a very nice standard and most importantly the model has atmosphere. You can really believe that this is a small, slightly run down station in an industrial town somewhere in the Midlands.
If there is one complaint, it's that like most micro layouts, operation isn't that exciting. I know because I fell into operating it thanks to the arrival of the gentlemen of the press at the same time as the owner was at lunch leaving exhibition organiser Mark playing trains. To be honest all you can do is shuffle very short trains around. The wiring is in to allow a loco to be isolated at the end of a coach and another to take the train away but I didn't try this.
This caveat aside, it's a very nice model. The size was determined by the builder living on a barge - not a space conducive to large scale models ! If you like building models then it would be fine and were it mine then I'd be happy chatting to people explaining how everything was constructed.
I've skimmed over several other nice models - Lochnagar manages to make a more convincing bit of Scotland than I've managed in the past. Claydon looked nice too, a real slice of the Cotswolds. Best of all, the choccie cake was delicious.
More photos on Flickr
Churchrail Show web site
Update: That's done it. My Dad has just heard he won a ticket for a trip on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway in the raffle !