This is the last year that the 16mm Association will be holding it's AGM at Stoneleigh Park. Next year's event takes place at Peterborough. That means instead of a 15 minute drive, it's going to take a couple of hours. I still think I'll go though.
As far as garden railway shows go, this is it. Everything you want under one roof. General traders, specialist traders, steam engines, wagons, coaches, RTR, kits and scratch building parts. Goodies made in clay, steel, concrete, brass, wood and resin. And there are some static displays and layouts too.
For the full list of layouts and trade, head off to the assocaition website.
A particular highlight for me, other than the new IP Engineering Manx Van and chatting to the legendary (in garden railway circles) Tag Gorton, was being able to see rolling stock from the Compton Down Railway. If you aren't a fan of old model railway magazines then this won't mean anything to you. For me though it was one of the most interesting garden railways ever built. As a youngster I liked the idea that a lot of the rolling stock was scratchbuilt on to cheap chassis. The standards looked achievable but the overall impression was of a real railway, but in miniature. That's not surprising really, because Peter Jones was having the same problems I was at the time, lack of money but loads of ideas. Unlike me, he headed out to the garden and stuck at building his own, self contained line.
Time has not been kind to the locos, but that doesn't matter. Someone built these for his railway show their origins and that is a good thing. In a hall where you can hand over 2 or 3 grand for a lovely live steam engine, models made of bits of wood and metal on a Hornby O gauge chassis show that this is a hobby for everyone.
More photos on Flickr