Sunday, October 05, 2014
Barrow Hill Live
Barrow Hill is a new exhibition to me. It takes place in Britain's last railway roundhouse. When I arrived late on Friday afternoon, after setting up in a marque, I took a walk through the building and was immediately struck by the atmosphere.
Maybe it was the setting sun, or that I had the place to myself, or maybe that this isn't a Disneyfied attraction but one full of muck and grime, but there really was something special. I've looked at hundred of photos showing these cathedrals to railway engines in the past, but this was like stepping in to the picture.
Although there were steam engines present, most of the roads are taken up with what we might call "modern image" locos - even though these are all since long banished form the real railway and into preservation. Just looking around, it's obvious how much the railway has changed and the great loss of variety.
Saturday morning was cold. Cold enough for me to stop off en-route and pick up a hoodie from a supermarket since I'd forgotten to bring a coat along and would be wearing my BRM polo shirt. Before opening, I nipped to the buffet and picked up some hot tea and a huge chunk of chocolate cake. Well, you never know when you'll get the chance to eat!
Visitor numbers weren't great but I enjoyed a constant stream of people who wished to ask questions and chat about Edgeworth and model railways in general. It's difficult to tell how many people were there as you could loose quite a few on trains or simply standing on the viewing bank watching Tornado or a coal tank bustling up and down with a shuttle train.
Both days saw an interesting mix of people. Possibly the large number of September shows or simply the mix of real and model railways seemed to discourage the hard-core enthusiast. Those I chatted to were very much at the beginner end of the spectrum but to a man (or woman) wanted to enjoy their models. Ballasting seemed the most popular topic for the weekend but I covered pretty much everything else at one time or another. There was no sign of the normal Saturday morning silent staring we see at a "normal" exhibition.
As usual, I didn't get much chance to look around the show but I have to comment on Orestone Quay. Looking like a John Ahern layout had fallen out of a 1950s Railway Modeller, it is built using techniques from those day and looks fabulous - at least to me. The buildings have charm and atmosphere that is often missing from sharper layouts owing more to RTR structures or modern techniques.
I'll be mentioning a few bit and piece from this show in later blog posts as there were a few very interesting sights. For the moment, have a look at my photos on Flickr.