In the near half century since its foundation in 1966, the annual Warley Model Railway Club exhibition has grown into the pre-eminent event for railway modellers in Britain. Pop fans have Glastonbury, planespotters have Fairford, railway modellers have Warley! In 2015 the show was once again held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and, as has become traditional, featured a real 12″ to the foot locomotive -in this case National Trust owned ex LNWR 0-6-0T Coal Tank 1054 as cared for by the Bahamas Locomotive Society. This article is based on information from the official 2015 Warley show guide brought home by my friend and colleague Colin Green, who also took the photographs seen here.
Just like Fairford, one criticism levelled at the Warley MRC show is that is has grown too big. True, there is something for everyone but there is so much to see and do that no one person can properly appreciate everything to the depth which it deserves. As such, Colin’s pictures only reflect a tiny proportion of the layouts and attractions on display.
Also featured on the show programme cover – complete with digitally enhanced smoke effects – was the 00 gauge layout Horfield, presented on Stand D46 by Model Railway Solutions. Today little remains of the real Horfield suburban station which was situated 2 miles north of Bristol Temple Meads on the 1 in 75 Ashley Hill Incline – also known as Filton Bank.
This was on British Railways Western Region territory during the timescale of 1955 to 1961 modelled with trains appearing from the West Country, West Midlands, Wales and Paddington. As well as former Great Western locomotives and rolling stock, those of other regions – and Standard designs – also appeared leading up the decline of steam and the appearance of Western C-C diesel hydraulics and Blue Pullman sets.
By this time steam was already a fading memory in the United States, as recalled by Prospect Point, displayed on Stand A45 by the High Wycombe and District Model Railway Club. The Montana logging line modelled in H0 (1:87 scale or 3.5mm to the foot) featured three small junctions on different levels linked by steep switchbacks and inhabited by both conventional and geared steam locomotives. The layout -with 1 in 25 inclines – was L shaped and included two hidden fiddle yards as well as a more visible high wooden trestle and working wagon tippler.
While Horfield and Prospect Point used the latest Digital Command Control and sound systems to replicate the last hurrah of steam, Eric Large’s Tri-ang TT Historical Layout took visitors back to some of the ready to run model railways that were available during 1957 to 1968. Triang TT was an attempt by the Lines Brothers to produce on 3 rather than 4 millimetres to the foot a system to suit the smaller houses being built in post Second World War Britain. However, after great initial interest, TT (standing for Table Top) succumbed to competition from slot car racing sets and – most importantly – from N gauge. Tri-ang ceased production in 1964 and after its support for TT finished in 1968 the 1965-founded 3mm Society kept interest in this model format alive.
Colin’s own interest in N Gauge was reflected in Dentdale, presented on Stand C63 by Bob Taylor of Milton Keynes Model Railway Society. And having visited the 72 mile Settle Carlisle railway myself this summer, I was most impressed to see Bob’s representations of the rolling hills and viaducts.
More specifically, Dentdale was inspired by the high altitude moorland section from the entrance to Blea Moor Tunnel via Dent Head and Arten Gill viaducts to Dent station. One advantage of modelling the Settle Carlisle railway is that its Midland liveried signal boxes and semaphore signals have changed little over several decades. This allowed trains from all eras from the 1950s to 2015 to be successfully represented.
As well as hosting layouts from around the World in a whole range of scales and genres, Warley is also the supreme British model railway marketplace with both mainstream and niche companies displaying their wares and revealing new products. Once again, Colin was attracted to the presence of Graham Farish by Bachmann and in particular their latest Great Western Pannier Tank variant.