Those who know me will recall I have always experienced problems attending Sutton Coldfield exhibition. Every time we've been booked to attend, the vehicle has been poorly either on the way there or on the way back. It seems the posh end of Brum is bad for my cars. Thus, when I decided to pay a visit to the show as a punter, I travelled by train.
The event is close to a railway line but sadly, not the one with a station so a 20 minute stroll is required past some very nice 1930s villas. Being a posh area, they hadn't been vandalised with UPVC windows either. In fact, if you were looking for a location to research old houses that could have come from an Edward Beal book, Station Road would be a good start.
Anyway, I arrived at the show at 11 to find a small queue caused by a congested entrance corridor. One of the first sights to great visitors is a 5 inch gauge LMS 10000. Nice model too and safe enough near the door because even if you do covet it (and I did) it's too heavy to make a sharp exit with.
After my excursions, a cup of tea and cake was called for. I'm pleased to report that the excellent slice of chocolate cake was as delicious as it looked.
With lunchtime approaching, a sausage roll was added to the plate since I didn't fancy trying to get in during the rush of famished modeller an hour later.
Anyway, the show takes place in a school with the main hall and a large side room housing the layouts and trade.
The main purpose of my visit was not to eat cake, but to provide moral support to members of the L&WMRS taking their layout "Duxbury" out to its first exhibition not hosted by our club. Being a modest distance away from the home base, they managed to raise a large team to make everything happen. So large that a bigger operating well could have been required at some times.
Any layout on its first outing will develop niggles. Loading it in the back of a van and carting the thing around gives it a good shake which will uncover any problems. Despite this, things were working although the difference between working an operating sequence in the club rooms and at a show with the public staring at you had become apparent. The very sensible decision to abandon this and just get something running was soon taken and a re-write will take place. Chatting after the event, the snagging list isn't huge and most items can easily be fixed in time for the next appearance at the Great Electric Train Show later this year.
Next to Duxbury was the star of the show for me. Much Murkle is a GWR end-of-branch line station. Peco code 100 track is the only concession on this stunning model. The plan looks good, all the structures are lovely and the rolling stock, while based on RTR items, has been detailed and weathered. It's a layout that a keen beginner could aspire to - a bit like Edgeworth Part 2.
Despite being a modest local show, this wasn't the only nice layout to be seen. Charles Insley's St Etienne-En-Caux has loads of character, a bit like its builder, and some cracking articulated locos model boats that look right.
Unlike many shows, the trade could have taken plenty of money off me had any of them taken plastic cards. As it was, my one cheque was spent on a Hornby lifting bridge kit from the 1970s. I think that a bit more planning is required here by sellers at exhibitions. There are plenty of mobile phone based card solutions now so you don't need to spend a fortune.
On the other hand, if I can pay by card then when at a show miles from a cashpoint , I can keep giving you money. Who heads out with the sort of money it costs to buy a RTR loco in their pocket nowadays?
Anyway, a really enjoyable show. I spent 5 hours there and most of that was chatting. Thanks to everyone I spoke to, it was great fun.
Photos on Flickr