Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Warley MRC 2015

The Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, held annually at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham, is the UK's premier model railway exhibition with over 90 layouts, society and trade stands from major and minor manufacturers, publications, traders, dealers and demonstrations of every conceivable scale, gauge and technique. 
Held over the weekend of 28/29 November 2015 with over 10,000 visitors on the Saturday, 3mm scale was very well represented with an entire section comprising of the 3mm Society Publicity stand, 5 layouts and Andrew Shillito (New Products Officer) and Peter Bennett (Publicity Officer) giving practical modelling demonstrations and chatting with the public. 
The layouts proved popular and drew sizeable crowds of onlookers, with Steve Fackrell showing "Teignford", 
Paul Hopkins with "Redford Junction",
Jim Barry and David Wheelton with "Norton Folgate & Aldgate Hill", 
Tony Briddon with "Billton Goods",
and Eric Large with his retro Tri-Ang TT layout.
Steve Flint, editor of Railway Modeller magazine, took particular interest in "Algate Hill" taking a number of photographs prior to opening on the Sunday, could there be a feature in a forthcoming issue perhaps?
Being on "the other side of the counter" at shows, interacting with the public, peoplewatching and overhearing conversations is always an interesting experience and there are several themes that re-occur time after time, for example in spite of all the signage a good number being under the impression that they are viewing "N" scale models!
Particularly heartening is seeing the number of families and youngsters at shows, demonstrating that there is hope for our hobby with at least some of the next generation taking an active interest. One young chap of about 10 years sat down at Peter's demo table with his first question being "Can I help?" An active conversation about modelling then followed with a very involved and well-informed discussion about diesel loco classes, "D" prefixes and the introduction of TOPS. His Dad stood by with a bemused expression throughout; "Don't look at me, I dunno where he gets it from!" were his parting words.
Perhaps the most entertaining questions of the day came firstly from a chap who, after several minutes spent closely examining the display case containing Andrew's finely-crafted models, looked up and asked "Do these actually work, or are they for display only?" (Andrew's retort was very measured, all things considered...) Or the lady, on seeing Peter intently focussed on shaping a very small component, asking "Are you filing your nails?" Only inadvertantly, madam.

Tony Briddon's pre-production test build of the new resin-body 4F 0-6-0 kit (under development by Ron Shuttleworth) in particular drew a lot of interest and comment, it will no doubt prove a very popular kit when released next year.

But the most persistent opinion voiced, and one that is heard in various guises time and time again, is: "It's a perfect scale, not too small and not too big - it's a pity it died out." - with all the evidence that you could wish for to the contrary being right there before their very eyes!