This weekend I made the annual trip to the NEC for the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition. It is by far the biggest show of its kind in the UK, which can be both good and bad, all at the same time. Good because it has an unrivalled range and number of exhibits but bad because it can be a struggle to see everything in one day! It’s usual to visit and then in the week or two afterwards to see posts online about the show and see something you cannot recall seeing or didn’t even know was there!
There’s some real quality work on display (along with some tat too indicating the old boys’ network of model railway clubs is alive and well) with a really good range of traders. Just as layouts are chosen to provide a real mix so too are the traders. In the past I have been a trader at Warley and was impressed by this approach. It gives a much better experience for the visitor whereas other big shows, normally the commercial ones like the BRM show at Doncaster, where the trade has been at times dominated by the box shifters. Which is better for the hobby, I wonder?
One layout I was really looking forward to seeing to seeing was Mostyn by the Barrowmore Model Railway Group – the ‘Big Blue Beastie’ as one of its contributors calls it! It’s been around for about fifteen years now and was once featured monthly in Rail Express in its early stages. Certainly it’s a layout which has once and for all proved that large layouts built to P4 standards work and can work very well indeed. In fact, many viewers don’t seem aware it’s P4, they are simply absorbed by the whole thing – proof that when a layout works the actual standard to which it’s built shouldn’t be immediately obvious. I can actually remember Mostyn mark 1 at Scalefour North around about 2001…
The stock is just as much an appeal for many as the layout itself. The position of the layout at the show meant it was easy to view the fiddle yards and see the huge array of stock which feed the large layout with a constant stream of trains.
I’ve always been so impressed by how high a standard is achieved across all the stock on the layout – the amount of time invested in just the stock is very impressive in itself. And one of my favourites was back in action too after a rebuild –
Continuing with the current anniversary of the Railfreight sub-sector launch of thirty years ago, Rail Express had a really lovely display of items and stock connected with the anniversary. All the major, mainstream magazines have a significant presence at the show – the size of the hall and space available gives a chance for the magazines to have a good amount of space. This is something which does set the show apart from all the other ‘big’ shows.
One of the joys of Warley is the range of layouts, layouts you might not normally seek out or go to see. And normally I’ll find there’ll be an oversees layout which can really grab you. And overseas doesn’t just mean the subject matter but in many cases it refers to where the builders are from. Often you’ll find European modellers exhibiting at the show and they bring something really different as modellers from different countries all seem to have their own take on how to produce a model railway.
Van Lingen naar Gefrees is just one of those layouts which might not be a normal choice for what you might seek out – a scenic gauge 1, German layout. Or perhaps, rather, a series of linked dioramas. All to a very high standard indeed and with one of the very best and effective installations and use of DCC sound I have ever seen! The physical size of the models undoubtedly helping this but the combination of the superb weathering of the models meant everything combined to create a wonderful illusion of reality.
But there was another exhibit which blurred the lines between model, art, fantasy and reality even more than any other layout I’ve ever seen.
The Dutch Ijsselstein Diorama which is one of the very best examples of perspective modelling you’ll ever see! The scene is barely a foot deep but when you stand in front of it the feeling of depth is stunning. Simply stunning.
Bearing in mind the show is full of model railway enthusiasts it’s perhaps funny to see how long they would stand waiting for the small tram loco and its trailer to pass through the scene while absorbing the scene as a whole. The care and skill which has gone into creating this is well beyond what one would normally see at a show – this is a beautiful example of the art of the model maker.
It also sums up The Warley Show – one small, niche exhibit attracting the sort of attention normally reserved for the big name exhibition layouts. People standing five and six deep to look at a scene barely three feet across. The show can produce all sorts of gems and surprises and this alone is why we should support it. Forget the announcements from the big ready to run manufacturers, that’s simply manufactured hype aided and abetted by the likes of RMweb for marketing purposes, go to see the wonderful and diverse examples of superb modelling, mainstream, niche and beyond, which this wonderful hobby produces.