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Saturday, 9 March 2019

BNHMRS 36th Exhibition

This is becoming a pilgrimage. It is the 9th successive year I have visited this Basingstoke annual show. I know it's 9 years because my grandson has accompanied us every year since his birth.

We attended shortly after opening on the first day, not the best time because the crowds are horrendous at that time. Thankfully, the three halls of exhibits thinned out as the morning wore on affording better viewing of the layouts. I am in need of inspiration for my next project and hoped the show would reward me in this respect.

The extent of layouts, traders and modelling standards was very high, as usual. The Basingstoke club (who's exhibition it was)  was one of the competitors in 'The Great Model Railway Chalenge' TV programme and their winning layout Santa's Holiday - 00 gauge was on display. If you saw the TV programme you will know the teams were under pressure to build a fully working model railway within a couple of days. Watching the TV programme I was left with the impression that the builds were a rushed job resulting in poor quality modelling and unfinished look. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this layout was well finished and a worthy winner of their heat in the competition.

In choosing a personal best in show it is difficult not to ignore Copenhagen Fields - 2mm scale set in the 1920/30s. It is quite a coup for the Basingstoke club to show this famous layout belonging to The Model Railway Club, a London based club and the oldest in the world, I believe. It is a massive scale model of an urban area near Kings Cross station. London. The standard of modelling is very high. My attention was drawn to the finely detailed road vehicles because I had experience of scratch building 2 mm road vehicles and it ain't easy. Their efforts surpassed mine.

The layout has been on the exhibition circuit for a long time, reflected by a deep layer of dust that dulled the colours of the models.

I must ignore Copenhagen Fields as my choice for best in show. It has had plenty of  praise heaped on it by others already.

My best in show choice goes to Arun Quay - 7mm scale. I have said before that achieving a high standard of modelling in the larger scales must be a special challenge. Attention to detail cannot be ignored since every missing brick and blade of grass will be noticed. This model is only about 7 feet long (+ small fiddle yard) and yet it appears larger due to the thoughtful placement of objects that give balance to the scene. The track plan is comprehensive offering a wide variety of shunting movements, yet nothing is cluttered. In particular  I liked the treatment of the River Arun. The quay faces the back scene but stops a few inches from it. The river is part of the back scene, all expertly painted. The gap and drop between quay and back scene is a visual trick that gives the river perspective and substance. Building construction is very fine made from foam board covered in clay with each brick scribed on!

It was not until I read the exhibition booklet later that I learned the modellers of Arun Quay were Gordon and Maggie Gravett who created the acclaimed Pempoul that has appeared in magazines and on TV. That explained where the the high standard of modelling for Arun Quay came from.

Seeing the exhibition certainly excited me to want to start another modelling project but what to do I need to think hard about. I'm certainly drawn to 7mm scale having seen Arun Quay and others in this scale but cost and space may be prohibitive. (I already have five layouts in 00 and N!)

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