Report on the Beckenham Vintage Show of the Beckenham and West Wickham Model Railway Club held at St. John’s Church, Eden Park on April 2nd 2016
Words & photos by Tony Penn
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For the seventh annual Beckenham Vintage show we had far more changes than ever before, primarily because two of the three halls we normally use had been demolished for replacement. That meant we had to locate layouts in the church itself, restricting traders to the remaining hall along with our club shop. The catering proved an interesting challenge as the kitchen had also gone, yet was as usual superb.
We had ten layouts this time, all very different and none repeated from previous years, although by many of the usual operators!! However, we had a late layout withdrawal for health reasons and at one weeks’ notice Paul Gumbrell brought his ‘Viaduct’ 0 Gauge layout. This was only its second outing and is truly magnificent and very very different from the normal loose lay tinplate 0-Gauge layout and had an admiring crowd all day. Paul’s theme was the West Coast Mainline, so I sneaked my LNWR train on before the show opened. After that Stanier Pacifics streamlined and plain ruled the rails.
The weather was unkind to us for the whole of the show, being bright and sunny, which noticeably reduced the families present in the afternoon. Although we were only 22 down on the ‘gate’ from last year.
The main feature layout this year was the Chiltern Hills Group of the HRCA with their very large Hornby Dublo two rail layout ‘Bowlers Croft’ which featured Wrenn rolling stock. One of Derek Smith / John Bann’s LMS Beyer Garratts in the Dublo style ran for much of the day hauling 54 Wrenn mineral hoppers. The kids were all counting the wagons along with some of the adults unaccompanied by children!
Kip Bennett provided his ‘Notso’ Hornby Dublo three rail Layout. His ‘other’ layout is Benton Curlieu made up of all curved rails and has been on the circuit a lot. ‘Notso’ is not so curly, featuring a more normal track plan with straights (geddit??). Again Beyer Garratt power (actually mine) featured strongly.
Mark Carne’s 0 Gauge Bing layout showed a lot of the range of these Pre-War trains and accessories, many sourced from German Auctions. Track was by the modern maker Merkur which is retailed in the UK by Bruce Palmer. It is not normal for vintage 0 Gauge tinplate layouts to feature points, as with Hornby tinplate one’s derailments are almost inevitable. But with the use of the better quality Merkur points, reliable use of loops was possible which made life changing over trains a lot easier.
Dave ‘Chalky’ White displayed a Triang loose lay with a mid-sixties Southern theme. The line-up of EMU’s in the shed looked very like Durnsford Rd Wimbledon, spot the product placement.
Anyone who runs early Trix will know the challenge of keeping things running through the day. The track seems to have a mind of its own and develops all sorts of problems, especially voltage drop as the day progresses. Chris March with his years of experience of this range has finally given in with loose lay and attached the track to baseboards. The result being that his Trix Express (German Trix) ran reliably all day.
The lower cost O Gauge makes were beautifully displayed by Bryan Pentland’s ‘Elevated Trains’ with an intriguing high level monorail. ‘Scenery’ by means of biscuit and sweet tins made up a colorful layout.
Marklin HO complete with working overhead electrics from the Vyse family ran beautifully and reliably the whole day. I heard several visitors and indeed other layout operators asking if the overhead cantenary was live.
American Flyer S gauge is not common in the UK so it was good to have Neil Trump’s layout. We have had American Flyer before at our previous two day shows, so it was a very welcome return. The club had been offered some American Flyer by a local resident, but because of its unique and narrow appeal we passed it on to Neil who purchased them and restored the three locos to running order. The former owner came to the show and was delighted to see his old trains running again for the first time in over 50 years.
Battery powered trains was the theme chosen by Andy Hyelmann who is always guaranteed to have something different and interesting to run. It is important that we don’t ignore these lower cost trains, as being cheap disposable items the vast majority were ‘binned’ after a short time and there are few survivors. It is great to see the trains running and the display of the original set boxes was an interesting display. The pictures on them were actually of the contents, unlike Hornby and other British makes which often featured illustrations far more impressive than the contents!!
The TCS stand was present as usual manned by Rod Hannah and sold out of back issues of the TCs Collector Magazine. There were several interested prospective members seen in earnest discussion.
Traders were represented by Cliff Maddock, David Wills, Elaine’s Trains, WM Collectibles, John Wilcox, Peter Berry, WJVintage and David Laine.
Nine layouts and five traders are already booked for next year’s show so reserve April 1st 2017 in your diary.
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