I've seen Derby Roundhouse on TV a few times and it always looked a fascinating building. The model railway exhibition moving in just gave me an excuse to go.
First tip: Ignore Google when travelling from the station. You don't need to go out of the main entrance, walk along the road (past the pub with a Class 37 cab in the car park), under the road and along the canal and through an industrial estate. Just walk out of the other entrance and the show is 10 seconds walk away. Luckily I worked this out on the way back as it was raining.
First impressions are that the hall is smaller than I expected. Compared to Barrow Hill, it's tiny. The roof is fascinating though, full of beams and cranes. That and theatre lighting, but I assume this wasn't installed by the Midland Railway.
A round venue must be a joy for the organisers. Stands are arranged in doughnut fashion with a ring around the edge and a back-to-back inner ring around the turntable. This was covered with seating for those having something to eat.
Food was pretty good I thought. A small cafe on the side served some nice sandwiches, crisps, drink a mahoosive slice of cake for a reasonable (in the real world, if not for any railway modellers who never get out) price. I took mine outside, collecting a giant pass out stamp on the back of my hand, to sit in the pleasant grassy areas perfectly designed for enjoying the sunshine.
Back inside I toured the trade stands completing my shopping list along the way. I'd say it was pretty good, with a few stands I'd not seen before, but understand that additional space might allow for even more next year. The show has traditionally brought in more non-UK content than other events and this is shown with several traders selling foreign products. I like this as I get to see new things but if your interested is in the cheapest red or blue boxes, this might not appeal as much.
Layouts are limited in length by the roundness of the hall. Although there is a side room, a carriage shed, which could accommodate something longer, this was a show for more modest models. Again, this makes me happy, especially as I got to see the excellent Manston Brewery for the first time.
Manston was built for a P4 competition to create a model in a limited space. Cleverly they've filled the space with buildings so the tiny area is prototypical. No point in cramming a sprawling country station into a tiny space as it looks ridiculous.
Around the corner from this was my friend Paul Marshall-Potter's model Albion Yard.
He had been working through controllers with a couple of DC Gaugemaster handhelds being killed off for no apparent reason. So desperate was he, that operation was by the evil DCC to keep something working. Combine that with 3-link couplings and it all sounds very fiddly.
The photo shows some of the fiddle yard. Hidden behind a canvas flap (the layout is operated from the front) is about a third of layouts worth of scenery so that when you look along the model, the view doesn't stop at the edge of the scenic section. Normally modellers employ some sort of break such as a footbridge or tunnel, but this wouldn't be appropriate for this model. If you can stand all the Great Western stuff, do check out his blog.
Towards the end of the day, and another spell sitting outside with refreshments later, I spent a long time talking to David Wright about scribing DAS and model making in general. We have a common interest in "atmospheric" modelling rather than the cold and clinical perfect stuff that sometimes appears in the finescale press.
We're also both keen to get people making things. It's all very well spending money, but give over a few hours to making a model and you'll be rather more committed and probably stick around a lot longer. This doesn't need to cost much either. All David's models are made from foamboard and clay with a few details. No need to spend time on forums moaning that everything is too expensive either.
Anyway, a thoroughly enjoyable show. I enjoyed the venue and everything on show. Back next year, 6th and 7th May.