Monday, 28 October 2019

ExpoNG 2019

Where on earth do I begin? A fantastic day was had by all who attended ExpoNG, and the hospitality and quality of layouts on show was second to none. In this blog post, I'll take you around a tour of all the layouts!

Firstly though, I am particularly thankful to Michael Campbell, who offered me a chance to go around and look at the other layouts whilst he had a play on Sandy Shores. As the first other person that has operated the layout, I think he did a fantastic job; especially considering the quirks of the layout, and my utter complacency in explaining them!

Secondly, I am thrilled and honoured to have been the recipient of the Reinier Hendriksen trophy an absolutely fantastic result, and one that completely took me by surprise! In fact, I was so unaware of proceedings that I didn't even hear my name being called until someone ran up to me and alerted me to the fact! Considering the top-tier quality of the trophy's' previous winners, and the layouts on display, it is an absolutely amazing result, and I'm still smiling thinking about it.

Thirdly, a huge thanks to Tim Sanderson, who lent me a rather lovely locomotive and WD style wagon for use on Sandy Shores for the day. Both looked and performed brilliantly on the layout.

And so onwards to the 100+ photos. As you can imagine, I was in a pretty big rush to go around, and so these aren't some of my best photos (mainly suffering from low DoF, but I hope they go some way to showing the high standard of modelling to be found! The layouts are shown in alphabetical order:

Abbey Light Railway - David Malton
A beautiful layout that makes me wish that I had the chance to ride on the prototype when it was still in operation! I particularly loved the detailed rolling stock, and also the way that the leftmost board was framed by trees placed right at the front edge of the board. The amount of love for the prototype clearly shows by the amount of detail.

 Appleton Deane - Royston & District MRC
I really enjoyed this lengthy 7mm layout, particularly the rather lovely locomotives and detailing present just about everywhere. It was also very interesting to me that the small portion of the town/village modelled was located on the far right of the line; in effect making it's own diorama. A highlight for me was the very well modelled garage scene, with its wobbly corrugated iron roof and lovely frontage.

Canal Street Wharf - James Hilton
A man of great talent, it was a joy to finally meet James and not one, but two of his layouts. Canal Street Wharf was one I have very much admired ever since I caught a glimpse of it online, and despite its diminutive size, there were a number of perhaps subtle but well-placed details. As would be expected from James, the colouring, weathering, and overall atmosphere was spot-on. My only concern is that I can see myself building a few of these micro layouts now...

Clearwater Harbor - Steve Waterfield
A worthy winner of the David Lloyd Trophy, this layout was absolutely jam-packed with delightful scenes, and fantastic modelling. From the low lying vegetation in the first photo, to the delightful step ladder scene in the second, everything looked as if it had always belonged there, which is not easy to do. The weathering was also spot on, and I particularly loved the raised wooden trestle for wagon unloading on the far left.

Compass Point - Chris O'Donoghue
This is my second time seeing Chris' layout, but now twice as long thanks to its new extension. As regular followers of this blog will know, I'm a sucker for coastal scenes, and particularly ones with a grounded carriage. What sets this layout apart from many others is that it is absolutely smothered in details and little scenes, particularly on the original harbour section. Usually I think less is more, but somehow, Chris has completely upended this, and produced a fantastic layout. I don't think I'll ever get bored of seeing Compass Point!

Derwent Road - Bill Flude
I've heard a lot of people say how much they thought this was a highlight for them at this years ExpoNG, and I can see why. The colours are absolutely spot on, the tracks winds its way through various well-modelled houses (I love things that don't follow baseboard edges!), the rolling stock is fantastic, and everything works together in perfect harmony to create a truly believable scene. Perhaps one of the most interesting features though was actually behind the scenes. Standing on the left hand end of the layout is a CCTV monitor which shows various views of the fiddle yard; a unique and very well executed concept.

Duivelsberg - Steve van der Hart & Jos Geurts
So small, you could easily walk past it without noticing, this tiny little working layout was a true gem. Not only was it so nice to see an autumn scene (they seem so rare!), but it was truly exceptionally well-modelled. Tiny leaves on the floor were present exactly where you would expect to find them, and the colouring was absolutely beautiful throughout. The trees are also works of art by themselves. Much like James Hilton's Canal Street Wharf, this tiny micro layout is forming dangerous ideas in my head!

East Works - James Hilton
James' second layout of the show was his brand new East Works. I have absolutely no idea where he gets the time considering he works full time as a model-maker, but the results of this relative quick-build are outstanding. A masterclass of less-is-more! As I said to James at the show, I'm incredibly grateful that he has produced a Purbeck layout, as it has been one on my list of ideas to build for many, many years. Back to the model though, and as you can see, the colouring is spot on; the lighting a perfect daylight hue which helps to show off James' skills. Oh, and of course the locomotives in particular are second to none... I should know, he built two of them for me for Sandy Shores!

Fintonagh - David Holman
And the trend of great lighting and colouring continues, with this 7mm layout based on the Clogher Valley Railway in Northern Ireland. I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but that just shows the high quality of layouts at ExpoNG! I would've loved to have spent more time looking at Fintonagh, but as you can see, the rolling stock was of particular interest to me. Irish railways are something I know next to nothing about, but I absolutely loved the little flatbed railcar; it's given me an idea to make something similar. The buildings on this layout were also superb, and everything had a slight faded appearance which is what really makes this layout feel natural.

La Briqueterie - Tim Hills
A tiny little working layout, this delightful scene was not on the programme, but it certainly impressed me. The amount of detail crammed into this micro layout was great, as were the various lamps and well-modelled low relief buildings. Just take a look at that flat wagon laden with tools; fantastic! Yet another layout that has me thinking dangerously, but in all seriousness, I was really impressed with weathering of that diesel loco, and the corrugated iron workshop behind it. The weathering on the track was also good to see, particularly around the water crane.

Llandecwyn - Martin Collins
Directly opposite my layout was The Llandecwyn Railway, a first-class layout that I just wish I had time to stop and stare at for hours! Forty years in the marking, the attention to detail is impressive, and is truly one of the better Welsh layouts I've seen. I absolutely loved the yards piled with slate, and the well-observed buildings which scream North Wales! Oh, and as for the railway embankment covered in Welsh stone... I've not seen anything quite like it; I only wish I had time to ask how it was made...

Llanfair - Andy Cundick
A particular highlight for me on this exceptional layout was the tree-lined avenue running from front to back. Sadly I had no time to set up a tripod to get some proper high DoF photos, but I still hope you get the same enjoyment out of looking up that track as I did! Whilst nothing was running in the very short time that I was there, the rolling stock was beautiful as you can see. This was definitely one of those layouts that pulled you in, with plenty of interesting lines of sight to enthral. The railway in a landscape was definitely the order of the day for this layout, and big expanses of open areas really made you feel like you were there yourself.

Oh Guano - Noel Davies
One of the more unusual layouts, this one not only sported a humorous name and concept, but did it in great fashion. There were some lovely scenes, and even more impressive pieces of rolling stock. The animated wind pump and working tipper mechanism were far from the novelty factor of some animations, but they actually added a lot to the enjoyment and purpose that the layout gave. As you can see, the level of detailing, particularly under the covered shed/workshop was a delight!

Saints Amis sur Mer - Msc Het Spoor
A rather lovely layout that unfortunately suffered from a lack of backscene on the rear, this coastal scene was very well modelled; the waterway and harbour in particular was really spectacular. Sadly I found it tough taking photos of this layout, but it really was nicely done, and I loved that the railway was pushed to the back of the layout, making the whole thing feel much larger than it really was.

Sandy Shores - me!
Whilst I didn't take any photos of my own layout during operations, I did grab just a couple of (admittedly poor) photos after the show showing Tim Sanderson's visiting stock! I think you'll agree that they looked right at home on the layout!

St Mary's - Julian Evison
Next on the list is this lovely quintessential model by Julian. Showing an array of rather fetching locomotives, this scene was also a great example of less-is-more. I must admit, I'm not normally a GWR fan, but this is definitely the exception for me; a lovely bit of modelling, with small cameos like the horse-drawn coal wagon taking centre stage. Another layout that I wish I could've had more time admiring.

Thurtey - Richard Doe
Originally built by Lee Bryant, this layout was built to a budget of £30... not that you would ever believe that on first glance! A really interesting layout this one, particularly thanks to it's three-pronged design. I particularly liked the new premise of the layout; being a small harbour with a ferry service, and a dredger having been tasked with clearing the harbour of silt. Sadly I only grabbed a couple of photos, but hopefully I'll see it at another exhibition so I can spend more time looking at it and taking photos!

Tramfabriek (unnamed micro layout?) - Tramfabriek
I'm not sure if this micro layout has a name, all I know is that it is produced by Tramfabriek. Much like its neighbour Duivelsberg, this is centred around a space not much bigger than one square foot; yet the detail present and exceptional scenery is quite incredible, and makes it feel much larger when you get in close. And yes, these micro layouts are really starting to get into my head now, and forming ideas...

Ulvaryd Strand - Charles Insley
Another layout that I wish I had time to stop and stare at for longer was this Swedish based layout by Charles. I also wish I had more photos to show, as the ferry is a particularly well-modelled scene. I was also particularly fond of the engine shed, with it's typical Swedish aesthetic, and pantile style roof; a very attractive structure.

Wilstone - Geoff Evans
And finally, the last layout present was to be found in the Practice Hall. A rather unique layout, as it was actually split into two sides; a "light" side featuring a typical countryside station, and a "dark" side featuring mills from North Wales. I was particularly taken by the dark side; the canal scene was a lovely feature and scenic break, and the illumination and theatre design made for an unusual scene.

So, there we have it; 100+ photos of a spectacular event. A real credit to the hard work of the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Railway Society (G&DNGRS). It was actually my first time attending, and to walk away with such a coveted award was an incredibly high honour given the fantastic layouts on display. I can only offer my thanks once again to Michael and Tim, and everyone who visited the layout and gave such warm comments. There are FAR too many people to thank them all individually, but I will say that it was a fantastic day out, and it was really nice to meet so many faces; both old friends, and new ones! 

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