Back from a very entertaining weekend in deepest Somerset for Narrow Gauge South West in Shepton Mallet. It’s the first time I’ve been to this show, and overall impressions were of a crowded but action-packed event with a load of very good quality layouts. The social aspect was fun too, as we drove down on Friday night to enjoy a great curry and a most definitely “local” pub.
Oro Grande in Sn3 (1:64 scale on 14.2mm track) was a very much non-stereotypical US scene with a working shovel excavator which perhaps understandably had a control panel more complicated than the average small layout.
Roger Christian and Stan Williams’ Tan-yr-Allt / Dwffyr Uchaf was on display and looking as good as ever, although it now seems as if it was designed with the best views down the line from the operating side!
Another of those layouts I have admired in photos for some time but not seen until now was Paul Holmes’ Borth-y-Gest, which is in 4mm scale but uses the accurate P4 track standards giving a gauge of just 7.82mm. It’s a historically accurate extension of the Ffestiniog at the Porthmadog end and uses DCC control, sound and smoke effects. This shot shows England loco The Princess in early condition with open cab.
Paul also brought along his scratchbuilt model of the original double Fairlie, Little Wonder, which is under construction for his O14 layout Dinas. This is promising to be something quite special, with synchronised sound on-board, and smoke units which – if all goes to plan – will be able to simulate the loco’s drain cocks as well as chimney smoke.
A further scratch of my Ffestiniog itch was Tan-y-Bwlch in OO9 by Angus Watkins. As well the excellent scenic work and smooth running trains, a great feature was the flip cards showing the operating sequence, which also gave details of the trains and the reasons for the way they were arranged.
A convincing preservation era scene in O16.5 was Llanerfyl by Brian Hunt. It is inspired by the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, with appropriate stock, and this example of the new Dorset Kits Earl/Countess looked very much the part.
Under construction but full of promise was Andy Cundick’s Strabane in OOn3 (and Irish broad gauge), described as the fourth in his County Donegal “trilogy”. This was a substantial station as the junction of three CDR routes and the GNR(I) broad gauge line. Railcars abounded, reflecting its 1940s/50s setting.
I ended up buying my first Backwoods kit (the Hudswell-Clark diesel mechanical) and some other OO9 bits – my scale indecision issues continue! However I am still resolved to see through my own layout in 5.5mm scale, this stuff is for someone else’s…