This weekend I learned that Peter Johnson had passed away. I think we weren’t alone in being shocked by the news. Sadly I didn’t know Peter, though I spoke to him briefly at a couple of exhibitions.
Many, like me, know Peter entirely through his modelling – some of the best modelling I’ve seen.
I can remember seeing Canada Road (Canada Street’s predecessor) in Rail Express Modeller in the early 2000s and it impressed many people. It had a look of normality, the mundane – qualities many modellers can struggle to catch so well. It was the finishing and weathering that immediately caught my eye, everything worked together in harmony, nothing stood out everything was part of the overall scene.
Looking closer you began to see the quality of the modelling – scratch built diesel shunters dating from a time when diesel modellers weren’t served as well as now. A scratch built class 07 caught my eye among the modelling. I’ll be honest I hadn’t realised it was actually scratch built until a number of years later! EM Gauge 70s is a wonderful showcase for Peter’s modelling – along with its other contributors – and through this his work can inspire for many years yet.
One article of Peter’s which really caught my imagination was his feature on modelling class 25s in Rail Express Modeller. He used Hornby bodies as a basis – he and Jim Smith-Wright both wrote about this as a starting point. The Hornby body was a much better shape than the original Bachmann model of the type.
The article was just the sort of thing that Rail Express did very well in their modelling section – pragmatic, high quality modelling. Despite the very high standard of modelling it was described in a clear and achievable way. I like articles like this.
One thing I like to see is the reworking of older models, the class 25s being great examples of this, especially the ones which used the Hornby chassis as well as the Hornby body. More and more (though it tends to be the vocal types in Facebook groups!) you see people demanding more in ready to run form, rather than actually doing some modelling. Seeing modellers relying on their own devices and abilities is quite heartening – this attitude and approach is seen across EM Gauge 70s.
There is something satisfying watching someone turn something basic into something stunning. His wagons reflected this approach too – it’s ‘proper’ modelling I think, built-not-bought. Combining components from all sorts of sources to create the end result. The grain wagon build we’ve followed on EM Gauge 70s recently really demonstrated this approach I feel. Very inspiring stuff!
Canada Street is of course a very well known and admired. The structures are impressive, their sheer bulk and size to begin with but the more you study them. There’s something absolutely delightful about the layout, seeing at shows never disappoints!
Peter’s modelling has been inspirational, I’m quite sure it will continue to impress and inspire people for many years to come.
I must thank Kier Hardy for allowing me to use photos from EM Gauge 70s.
Our thoughts are with Peter’s family and friends.