Expo Narrow Gauge, Swanley, 2019

Yesterday, was the UK annual Narrow Gauge Modelling Festival. More correctly I should say it was the annual exhibition for the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Railway Society. It is probably the biggest narrow gauge exhibition in the UK with 18 layouts, 14 societies and 22 traders. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon looking at layouts, here are some that I particularly liked.

St Mary’s by Julian Evison is a O-16.5 layout inspired by the Welshpool and Llanfair railway. Julian’s imagined that the planned, by never constructed, route to serve Meifod had been built as a branch of the existing railway. I have a soft spot for the W&L and I really enjoyed seeing how Julian had captured the atmosphere of the line so well.

Julian’s ceated a yard for J. Lloyd Peate & Sons who were coal and lime merchants in Llanfair and ran one of the few private owner wagons on a British narrow gauge line.

Many modelers include quite complex cattle docks on their layouts. The W&L had a much simpler solution and used these ramps at different locations on the line. I was so pleased to see Julian had recreated this. Sometimes it’s the little things that give me the most pleasure when I’m looking at a layout.

This is the eye-catching Sandy Shores by Jamie Warne. This 009 layout was featured in BRM a few months ago and I was very impressed by the excellent photos. Strangely, Sandy Shores looks even better in real life.

The colour balance, detailing and lighting create a very appealing scene.

St Amis sur Mer (Boei-à-Beze) by the Het Spoor model railway club is a HOm layout (1:87scale, 12 mm gauge). The modelling of the estuary, harbour and buildings was lovely.

The photos don’t do the layout justice. There was no backscene along the length of the layout. In real life this isn’t a problem because the eye focusses on the details but in the photos the clutter in the background is rather distracting. I’ve included St Amis sur Mer here as it is a layout that’s worth looking out for.

On the SNCF Society stand was the 0-16.5 layout ‘La Briqueterie’ by Tim Hills. It depicts a small brick factory in Northern France in the 1960s.

It’s a very attractive, compact, 1:43.5 scale layout and I spent a long time looking at it.

There are lots of interesting cameo scenes.

And the level of detailing is super.

Many narrow gauge railways were built in Bedfordshore in the 1920s to serve the sand quarries in the area. In the 1960s the town of Leighton Buzzard expanded rapidly around the railways and today the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway runs through parts of the town amongst modern houses and shops.

Derwent Road by Bill Flude represents a fictitious 18 inch gauge line, in Leighton Buzzard, shared between a sand company and a preservation society. The layout is beautifully presented. Bill has captured the atmosphere of the line running through the town very well, the built in speakers play subtle background noise (birdsong etc) and the DCC sound on the locos really adds to the atmosphere.

There were many excellent layouts at ExpoNG this year but Derwent Road was my favourite. The atmosphere, modelling, and detailing are superb.

Many thanks to the organisers of ExpoNG for a very enjoyable exhibition.



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