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Friday 23 January 2015

Bob Symes: 6 May 1924 - 19 January 2015 (aged 90)

I don't think anyone else did as much to bring model making to the masses on TV than Bob Symes. A 10 part series no less in the 1970s including 3 parts dedicated to model railways - his own hobby. It was through this series that I first became aware of this enthusiastic gentlemen instantly recognisable by his head and beard of white hair he sported almost since that time.

I saw him in the flesh when he exhibited his models at the Hexagon theatre in Reading, which must have been about the same time.

He fronted many programmes and shorts on model railways including 'A Lineside Look At Model Railways', which appeared on TV and later 'Another Lineside Look at Model Railways' available on VHS tape, which I bought.

More recently his work has appeared on YouTube and that is worth a search to view them.

Only today I learned that he was president of the Astolat Model Railway Club, whose exhibition I visited only 2 days before he passed away.

I am reminded of one of his expressions that was repeated more than once. About viewing layouts he said "I like to get right down to eye level for a realistic view" and this was epitomised in a photograph of him in this Chris Nevard posting.

Bob Symes never knew me but he touched my life.



Saturday 17 January 2015

Astolat MRC Exhibition 2015

I made time to pop into this exhibition in Guildford whilst on my way to somewhere else. Actually, three of us including wifey, who is not an enthusiast but enjoyed the exhibits none the less.

Astolat seems an odd name for a model railway club and I expected to see an explanation in the exhibition guide or on their website but, no! More digging around discovered the name to be that of a legendary city of Arthurian legends, which has been attributed to Guildford. So, for us foreigners we now know.

The venue was a school with exhibits spread over four small halls accessible from a rabbit warren of corridors, as is common in an old institution. No parking on site but luckily found space in free, 2 hour street parking nearby.

17 x layouts provided a good balance between 00 and N scales  together with 009, H0, EM and Sn2 representatives. A wide range of periods and territories with Australian and USA scenes alongside traditional UK locations.

The club's layout Priorsfield (00) has many staged cameo scenes that held interest for the visitor. Wipers Fish Hook and Menin Railway was most unusual, not only for its scale (Sn2: 1:64/9mm) but also for its depiction of a battlefield WW1 narrow gauge railway in a desolate frosted winter landscape with bombed out buildings and craters filled with iced over water.

My best in show goes to Dentdale (N), a very long double track line from the Settle & Carlisle railway set in the Yorkshire Dales. Realistically modelled with carefully constructed details, especially the buildings. During the show the period changes to show typical trains from the 1950s to the present day. The photos in this posting show present day trains.

Whilst the 17 traders included some variety there seemed to be an emphasis on second hand 00 items, fine for those wanting them but this time I needed new, 'N' scale accessories. My needs were not fulfilled except for some Xacto blades. I have sharpened my set so many times that they are getting worn out so, time for new ones.
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