Sunday 13 January 2013

A most unusual GWR branch line terminus!

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 St Albans Model Railway Exhibition is one of the first on the new year calendar, but despite being a model train loony for more decades than I really want to mention, it's not one I've had the pleasure of visiting before so I took out a small 'payday loan' to afford the rail fare (kidding, but don't start me).

This show, out of the many I have visited over the years appeared to embrace a broader spectrum of layouts than many others I've been to, with everything from 2mm finescale (2FS), 3mm to the foot, depicting Brunel's 7 foot(!), P4, S Scale, OO, N, 0 gauge and so on, with a little HO thrown in for good measure. As I write this, I don't think I've ever been to a show with so much variety on the scale/gauge front ever - apart from maybe The Warley Show at the NEC.

Click to enlarge
For many people, the key thing is the distance between the rails and the flange gaps is paramount, that's fine of course, as long as all else is equal with the rest of the modelling to match, but I personally look for something that congers up emotion and atmosphere. I want that special something that makes you feel like you're really there, or at least looking at an old Colour Rail slide, but in 3D and with movement.

Earl's Court, illustrated here is just one of those layouts,  it depicting a 'could have been' LMS/GWR joint 'overground' terminus in West London during its final years - a most unusual GWR branch line terminus! Having lived in the capital for many years, it has all those key features that shout 'West London'; the rundown cramped location, much of it still showing signs of wartime damage from 20 years prior with the yet (and never) to be replaced canopy, a mix of Western Region diesel multiple units, a little mixed WR/MR steam and some 4 rail activity, milk tanks, parcels stock and so on. Despite run down location there are is a hint of modernisation, with new fluorescent platform lamps contrasting with much wrought iron from the turn of the century, the old century that is.

With a model as well observed as this, the gauge, scale, flange width or the code of rail is totally unimportant. Don't worry I'm not anti the 'correct gauge' thing, but I do think that maybe all those other less obvious things that make a layout 'real' should also be looked and maybe greater emphasis on design, composition and colour should not be forgotten. The key to that, is looking at the real world, whether it be first hand, photos in books, or the internet, then throw away the calipers and absorb the atmosphere. For me, all that was missing was the smell of disinfectant, the pong of a bad sewerage system and maybe the smell of that new Chinese restaurant that's just opened next to the coffee bar with Radio Caroline playing on that new new fangled battery powered transistor radio.

Visit Earl's Court's (the model) website here

1 comment:

  1. Interested to read your comments concerning scale and gauge - when I look at a shabby P4 layout, and there's plenty of them about, I often wonder why the builder has bothered using the most exacting track and wheel standards when the rest of the modelling is below par. Surely P4 is an attitude rather than a set of standards?


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