I attended the BNHMRS 32nd model railway show on 14th/15th March 2015. I usually give a review of shows that I visit on this Blog but, this time it would be inappropriate because together with my son we were exhibiting our Cliddesden layout.
The BNHMRS show must be one of the largest in the south. This year there were 25 layouts on show. A specially invited guest of the club was Steve Flint, editor of 'Railway Modeller' magazine and he was given the unenviable task of judging Best in Show.
We were happily operating our little layout when we became aware of an increasing throng near us and then Steve Flint stood up on a bench and gave a speech, the content of which escapes me now because he announced that Cliddesden was to be awarded best in show! We were in utter disbelief as we were ushered to the front of our layout for shield presentation and photographs.
It was totally unexpected and begged the question why? Our layout is a simple loop with two sidings on a board 6 x 3 feet.
There is little doubt in our own minds that the scene we created looks right and realistic. The fact that it is closely based and scaled from a real location helps and years of modelling experience is another factor. But there must be more than this that warranted Best in Show.
Listening to comments from the general public as they perused the layout gives some clues. Lots of people gave praise saying it is well modelled and they appreciated the detailed scenes we replicated from real events of the period. (We have a screen presentation running alongside the exhibit that helps visitors understand the history of the station and the events that we modelled). There were also those who had some affinity with the line and came especially to see the layout, like the gentleman who knew Bert White, the last station master of Cliddesden and another who did a project on the station and showed us original documents related to the line and gave us a gift of a rare artistic print of the station in 1916, coincidentally the exact period of our model! This level of interest arose because we were exhibiting a scene that has roots in the local area.
There is no doubt in my mind that a model railway closely based on a real location can be more satisfying for the creator than a fictitious location because the history that must be researched adds interest and a sense of purpose to the project. For the visitor who knows of the area it awakens faded memories of happy times (hopefully). It was really heart warming to hear their stories.
We had a great time at the show and to cap it all it was my Birthday!
Pictures and video of Cliddesden Model Railway.