Friday 16 April 2010

Spirit of Welshpool

A few months back I posted some pictures of Mark Holland's under-construction layout inspired by Welshpool. Mark has obviously been busy recently as the townscape had really progressed by the time he set up the layout at Sparsholt last Saturday! His glamorous assistant operator (daughter!) confirmed that he had also been taking over the house somewhat with bits of layout too!

The effort is really paying off though, those familiar with the old pictures of the Welshpool & Llanfair railway threading through the back alleys of the town will recognise features in the model. Mark has done a great job of distilling the scenes into an atmospheric model, compressing and moving landmarks around but it is still recognisable, despite the whole town scene from the end of the station yard to the halt at Seven Stars being about 3 feet long. There is some way to go, the church is yet to come for example, and Mark is adding interior detail to the shops, as well as more people, vehicles and street clutter being required. But the washing on the lines, the railway running over the stream - they are all there! Would you believe the black-and-white cottage started life as an Airfix kit?

I was lucky enough to have a go at operating the layout for a while during the show, with a whole 5 minutes training (!). Actually it was great fun, although I am not a fan of the Bemo couplings, and there was one bit of track between a board joint and a point which was determined to derail any loco in one direction to frustrate me! I'm sure Mark will get that sorted. The sequence is to run in a mixed train, uncouple wagons in the yard, run up to station. Then back up, run-round, and shunt wagons. Reverse new train to station, depart for Seven Stars halt and the fiddle yard. Alternate with a railcar or goods only for interest! Mark is building up a fleet of Welshpool stock, which will really look good on the layout.

I'm sure I'll be able to bring more updates in the future!
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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Narrow Gauge South 2010

Last Saturday was Narrow Gauge South - otherwise known as "Sparsholt", after the college near Winchester that provides the venue. The Sussex Downs 009 group were showing part of the "Everleight" modular layout, and I had volunteered to help. This is a superb layout (I can't claim any credit as it was built before I joined the group), but the quirks of operation take a little getting used to, and not helped by the gremlins that got into the system between the test and clean session the previous evening, and being errected at the show! So the first hour of operation was a struggle, but once the issues were sorted and operators (including me) "on-message" things improved! In addition group member Mark Holland had his "Spirit of Welshpool" layout there, which I had the pleasure of operating - more on that soon. My recently completed and unpainted railcar spent much of the day on one of those two layouts.

In between operating sessions I did get chance to look around, although with over 40 superb layouts it felt like a rush to see them all! No toddler in tow this time though, so a little easier to stop and talk, and take photos. Some of my better photos are here but for the full collection see my
fotopic site. I skipped the 009 society AGM - I'm glad too, as it took 2 hours! - which was the best time to get close to the layouts. All in all, a great show.

I did get away without spending too much money, although I did pick up a few essential tools from Squires did add up, some useful odds-and-ends, and a fascinating book on Light Railways full of inspiring and atmospheric pictures (see photo).

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