Friday, 4 October 2013
Scaleforum has moved; Aylesbury is now the venue for The Scalefour Society's premier show after many years at Leatherhead. For those of us who travel from the far north it means we no longer have the M25 to endure!
The new venue is undoubtedly different from before – Leatherhead was quite cramped in many respects, but this lead to quite a distinct atmosphere. Much like Burton-upon-Trent's Town Hall has for DEMU Showcase over many years. However Stoke Mandaville Stadium allowed much more room which at first made it seem much quieter but in reality it was that there was just more space for everyone. This didn't result in quite the same almost 'electric' atmosphere as before but it was refreshingly laid back. The space also meant you weren't likely to knock someone balancing their food and purchases while you tried to move from the layouts to the demo area!
Despite being the Scalefour Society's main show, a guest society always adds to the mix. In some years this is a scale which is some way removed from 4mm finescale. However this year, the inclusion of the specialist interest which is P87 (exact scale H0 in essence) provided quite a nice way of looking at a standard not too far removed from members' own interests. And I'd even go as far to suggest that the Danish P87 layout was one of the best layouts to appear at the show! Geraint Hughes' Obbekær is simply superb. The concept of the layout is quite simple; a rural station in a small space. But despite the small area which the model occupies, it appears much larger and very spacious thanks to the subtle colouring of the scenery.
A more conventional subject was Blackgill - BR transition in the North East. I think it was the three and a half hour journey on its own! Quite a substantial layout with plenty of big engines hauling quite long trains! The whole scene is very railway-like and shows quite an everyday scene; no glamour and no twee-ness. I particularly liked the signal box.
And speaking of signal boxes, the signal box on Allt-Y-Graban Road was superb! It's a hideous structure, a type the Western Region favoured as it had the ability to be re-erected in another location. The style of the building does make a lovely subject for a model.
A wonderful part of the show was finally meeting one of my 'modelling gods'. I've admired Iain Rice for a very long time and have, I think, the majority of the books which he has written. His style is very readable and has inspired a generation of finescale railway modellers. And thankfully, he was a nice bloke too! And this is always a worry when you meet someone you've long admired as years of admiration could be destroyed in an instant! Thankfully this wasn't the case at all!