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Sunday, 15 May 2011

ExpoEM 2011 - A pilgrimage

It was possible to miss a model layout at this years show (except Mostyn - massive at 24' x 30' with 34 fiddle yard tracks!) because most of the stands were either trade sales or EM gauge demonstrations. This is to be expected due to the specialism of EM gauge. But, tucked away in a centre isle was the layout I came to see - Leighton Buzzard (Linslade) by Peter Denny (deceased).

Denny's modelling was an inspiration to many modellers of a certain age and greying hair, like myself. So, it was a privilege to see one of his working layouts in its entirety. This particular layout design dates from the early 1970s, although much of the rolling stock and buildings are older - The station building dating from 1951, for example!

Leighton Buzzard (Linslade)

Now, you need to view this layout in the context of its great age and remember that nearly everything was scratch built by Denny. The build and detail of his models stand up extremely well alongside current modelling technology and methods. If you have to point a finger at anything then you might suggest his method of creating model vegetation (lichen trees and dyed sawdust grass?) could do with an overhaul. But, I doubt that will happen if the objective of the new owner is to preserve the model in its historical context.

Anyone who has read Denny will know that he was an innovative modeller. Who can remember his wooden 'piano key' style point lever frame. Well there it was - still in use with the wood now totally discoloured from years of human finger activity, like a well worn book.

The display was supported by a lecture given by The 'Grandborough Signalman' who introduced some aspects of Denny's modelling masterpiece and life interspersed with a few anecdotes. Even Denny's two sons were on hand to fill in the knowledge gaps.

I do hope the layout will be exhibited again. It needs to be seen by modellers who should pay homage to the work of the great man upstairs who inspired their own efforts.

Leighton Buzzard (Linslade)

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