Our fifth annual Beckenham Vintage show rang the changes once again with nine layouts all different and seven well known traders. Plus the B&WWMRC Club Shop and much praised good quality catering.
Setting up and the Saturday night clear up was made a lot less painful with many helping hands to move the chairs and tables around in the halls. Brian arranged for additional tables from the Honey Club to be delivered to and collected from the Church. James Dallaway provided and delivered eight excellent folding tables from his residents association which gave the Club Shop its best ever display capability. The Club Shop stock and club tables were brought up in several car loads by Greg, Tony P and Tony R which saves us a lot of money by avoiding the need to rent a van. Brian and Robin Vince were again the mainstays of the shop with assistance from Derek, Ken and others. Owing to a miscalculation on my part we were short of tables this year hence the need to borrow those provided by James, but they are so good I think I might be cheeky and ask for them next year.
The queue at the door had started at 09:30 and after opening at 10:00 took a quarter of an hour to clear and as usual of the first ten through the door nine headed straight for the shop!! It was noticeable that people were arriving in small groups every quarter of an hour or so, which was a bit puzzling until I remembered that trains are about every 15mins on the Hayes line, so a lot of our ‘customers’ come by train. Attendance was almost exactly the same as last year and in the morning I don’t think we could have coped with more. Strict budgeting on layout expenses and minimising the layout insurance valuations ensured we made the most income from the day. The traders all reported good sales and want to come next year. Plus I have another different set of 8 layouts already provisionally booked for Beckenham Vintage 2015.
The main feature layout this year was Adrian Capon and Mark Carne’s magnificent Bassett Lowke 0 Gauge layout. Much of the stock was naturally from the between the wars era when BL was the predominant quality model railway range. BL did not manufacture everything they sold and sourced models form Bing, Carette and Winteringham amongst others. With Mark’s usual attention to detail and careful preparation they ran as well as they looked. There was some real treasures running, the LSWR M7 with Pink and Salmon coaches particularly caught my eye, as did the Bing ‘Cauliflower’ LNWR 0-6-0. Also running were some more modern Bassett Lowke / Corgi locos. The locos arrayed around the turntable were a moth watering display. Although a loose lay layout Mark and Adrian used appropriate buildings, turntables, stations, bridges and signals to build a really effective scene.
As a complete contrast and in juxtaposition with the BL was Steve Smith’s Triang ‘Big Big Train’ battery powered loose lay layout. The brightly coloured stock and red plastic track with huge play value was really attractive to the kids, who were its intended market when produced in the 1960’s. To those who think plastic isn’t ‘vintage’ think again, as most of this layout predated some of the other accepted ‘vintage’ layouts….. I saw this layout at a TCS event in the Midlands, but ‘Big Big’ as far as I’m aware has never been displayed in the south before. Many ‘scale’ modellers in the past have adapted and converted ‘Big Big’ stock as it was reasonably priced and apart from the colours the mouldings were pretty good. I have repainted ‘Big Big’ mineral wagons in grey and bauxite to run behind my ETS WD 2-8-0 as a ‘wind cutter’ coal train.
Returning for the fifth year but with yet another different layout the Chiltern Hills Group of the HRCA brought ‘Bowlers Croft’ a Hornby Dublo two rail self-standing layout, this time running exclusively Wrenn rolling stock. When Hornby went bankrupt in 1964 the range was taken over by their main rivals Triang, then sold on to G and R Wrenn, who continues to manufacture the later Hornby Dublo 2 rail plastic rolling stock and die cast locos. Wrenn also produced some unique locos of their own design, including a Parallel Boiler Royal Scot, Spam Can unrebuilt Bullied Pacific and a Brighton Belle electric unit of their own. There was a lot of comment along the lines of ‘I’ve never seen so much Wrenn before’, or ‘I didn’t know they did all that’ and ‘you’re running Wrenn!’ (Wrenn has high collector value and typically sits in display cabinets…). Lead as usual by Derek Smith. Ron McCaskie and John Booker this layout was as attractive and entertaining as ever and as usual featured some of Derek’s neverwazza creations in the Wrenn style.
Moving to the ‘wooden’ hall Roger White (aka ‘The Bishop of Bedford’ or ‘Your Reverence’). Put together a loose lay Marklin HO stud contact layout on the snooker table with two ovals with trains running all the time. An operating electric turntable and engine shed with opening and closing doors as the locos moved in and out in the centre of the layout made this a really attractive and entreating display. Terry Penn assisted Roger in getting some of the early bugs out and kept the kids (some older than others) amused turning locos on the turntable.
Martin Wood with assistance from Dave Tibbert brought his 6 x 4 self-standing Dublo 3 rail layout which packs a lot into a small space and is always very effective reliable and entertaining. This layout is frequently seen at the Orpington Toy Fairs and is consequently very well known. Martin also ran some non-Hornby items, including a brass (possibly kit built) LMS 4F to compliment the normal Dublo stock.
Neil Smith and Les Martin bravely put together an impressive multi-level 1950’s era Triang Trans Continental layout with grey Standard Track including elevated Standard Track sections. This is an incredibly brave effort as Standard Track is notorious for warping and shrinking due to the majority being made from cellulose acetate. Some was produced in polystyrene and this was the track used. It must have taken years to track down enough track for this impressive layout. One circuit included and overlaid figure of eight including an elevated diamond crossing and Triang rubber embankments there was a full range of accessories and little sign of the voltage drop problems that are also common with the use of this track. The rolling stock was from Triang’s Trans Continental range which I find very attractive, but does not necessarily accurately model the intended prototypes. Triang produced these in some cases from photographs for the Commonwealth countries and some were manufactured in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Although considered cruder by some than the Hornby Dublo range, Triang was lower cost, ran reliably on more realistic two rail track and had greater play value. Triang took the market and effectively bankrupted Hornby in 1964.
Peter Tewkesbury with his son Mark brought a fascinating compact Trix Twin layout which I had assumed was a pre laid layout ready assembled. But no it was a loose lay to a complex plan on a baseboard including electric point operation and many accessories. Predominantly Southern focused this was Peters ‘Train Set’ from his childhood greatly expanded and enhanced with many ‘neverwazza’ creations and repaints. It just shows how much you can do with Trix and still make it run reliably.
For the first time we had a Lionel American 0 Gauge layout with all the working accessories and fun value for which Lionel is renowned. Adam Heeley put this all together on his own in the 3 hours before the show opened, a remarkable feat. The three main ovals featured the big locos and three unit diesels haling the freights and express passenger trains, plus there were two shuttles and a mini oval working in the centre. The steam locos and even one of the diesels included smoke units, with the distinctive American whooar whoooar sounds all triggered without DCC……….
Dave White presented something very different from the Triang range with Minic Motorway cars and level crossings and Triangs Battlepsace trains. Dave even surprised himself when the ‘Exploding’ Car did just that when he picked it up (twice….). Battlespace is a fascinating range with rockets that fly from launchers, flying helicopters, searchlight cars and so on. But because they were made to be played with there are comparatively few survivors in good condition.
Traders were represented by Cliff Maddock, GB Models, Brian Baker, Elaine’s Trains, WM Collectibles, Joe Lock and Mike Delany.
The TCS stand was manned by Rod Hannah.
David and Monica Embling manned the HRCA stand.
Both societies reported lots of interest and David took some subscription renewals.
The Club shop did good business all day with good sales of vintage items. We left the junk boxes and books behind this time and spreading out the rolling stock rather than stacking it made life easier for everyone and enabled the prospective customers to see the goods!
The catering was as good as usual and the ‘café’ area was packed for most of the day. The bread pudding ‘slabs’ and bacon butties were there usual hit. At least one club committee member was seen regularly checking the food quality……