Thirty highly individualistic layouts from across the South East drew a big attendance of 500 enthusiasts when Bexhill Model Railway Club staged its annual exhibition.
Not only was the hall and dining area at St Richard’s Catholic College packed with interest, there were layouts and equipment stalls along the corridor and into a classroom.
Visitors last Saturday were greeted by the G Scale Society Sussex Area’s big outdoor layout, featuring a mix of British, Swiss and German locomotives and rolling stock.
Indoors, layouts ranged from Hastings Tramway Group’s tiny representation of a transport museum in an old engineering works to Angus Bentley’s St Petrock Viaduct and Quay. At 27ft long, this sample was only a third of the total layout; set in 1910 and based on the Plymouth Devonport and South Western Junction standard-gauge railway’s mixed-level meeting with the narrow-gauge East Cornwall Mineral Railway.
Though imaginary, the layout’s period detail included a lengthy lattice viaduct, a reproduction of the Laira Bridge, together with a well-engineered wagon lift based on the 1908 example at Calstock.
The third element of this three-piece work is still under construction, Angus being responsible for the engineering and friend Michael Tucker modelling the buildings.
The host club’s contributions included Sewel, its fictional take on the Harvey’s brewery set-up at Lewes – hence the anagram.
John and Jackie Kneeshaw had travelled from St Neots in Cambridgeshire. Their minimum-space finescale O Gauge Bankfield Road was set in the Black Country of the immediate post-war period, complete with damaged buildings.
The fine detailing of German-made rolling stock inspired Alan Peacock’s Bahnhof Hofen, representative of a branch line terminus in pre-war Germany and with quirky steam locomotives threatened by new-fangled railcars.
For Bexhill club president Arch Overbury, chairman David Gibbons and exhibition manager Mike Reeves and their team the many visitors through the “station ticket office” represented the success of a year of planning and hectic hours of set-up time.
Opening the exhibition, town MP Huw Merriman contrasted the running of the model layouts with his current work to re-establish normal working on Southern commuter routes.
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