Yesterday I made a quick visit to sunny (I'm kidding) Swindon to drop some projects off at the Gauge 1 event. While there I had a quick look around, bought some books and wished that I could have come away with some heavier packages.
It still amazes me the variety of products available in this scale. The range of RTR is good enough that you wouldn't need to get your hands dirty with any construction if you didn't want to. That's quite a change from a few years ago when it was the preserve of men in sheds operating lathes. Walk around with a pocket full of cash and you can buy high quality live steam locos and lots of rolling stock to tow behind them.
The test track was home to some trains thrashing around and smelling of meths. At one time there were a couple of decent sized express locos (scratchbuilt), one GWR pannier (Aster) and a Class 66 (Accucraft RTR). All made noises but only one was synthesised - a a lot louder than the others.
Walking back to the car, I wondered what the place was like 50 years ago. The show took place at "Steam" the museum of the GWR which is built in one hall of what used to be the famous works. The rest of the site has become a designer outlet shopping experience. Out of curiosity I stuck my head in.
There was a GWR Hall stuffed and mounted behind the cafe seating. Once upon a time this engine charged up and down the country hauling passengers on holidays. Now it's an ornament. A bit like the rest of the site. It used to reverberate to the sound of heavy industry. Metal was bashed and cast. We don't do that anymore in this country. Now we buy stuff. The only thing being bashed is plastic.
What a shame the happy shoppers didn't know, or care, that not far from where they pondered the delights of big bags of Cadbury's mis-shapes or discount footwear, there were people who carried on the traditions started in the buildings they were standing in.