Thursday, 8 December 2016

December News Round Up

Hi all, as we head into the festive period there are a number of minor things that we need to update you all on. Opening hours, events, announcements, etc.

Right, starting off with the opening hours. Up until Christmas Eve we will be open as usual, Tuesday to Saturday 10-5(4 on Saturday) with Christmas Eve actually falling on the Saturday, we will be closed Sunday and Monday as usual. However this is where the changes begin:
Holiday Tuesday 27th: CLOSED
Wednesday 28th: 11am-3pm
Thursday 29th: 11am-3pm
Friday 30th: 11am-3pm
Saturday 31st (New Years Eve): 11am-3pm.

Then a return to business as usual from Tuesday January 3rd 2017. We feel the hours between Christmas and New Year will suit both you the customer and us as a business as last year we found it to be a rather quiet week but at the same time offers a chance for those who want to come down the chance to do so. If you are planning to visit on one of those days during the usual opening hours please give us a call and we'll see what we can do with regards to making sure we are there.

On New Year's Day we will be attending Bridgnorth Toy Fair. Bridgnorth Leisure Centre, High Town, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 4ER. 10:30-15:00. Entry price £2.00 (all ages). A chance to blow off the cobwebs at the ever popular Bridgnorth Toy Fair, why not combine the visit with a trip to the Severn Valley Railway and what could quite possibly be the final days of steaming for their popular little 45xx tank 4566 which is 'out of ticket' at the start of 2017.


As I'm sure many of you are already aware, at Warley show (which we attended and were very proud to do so) Hornby announced several new products. Including the Modified Duchess as 46256 Sir William A. Stanier FRS, also 46235 City Of Birmingham in BR green with TTS sound and Duchess of Athol in LMS livery. There will also be new tooling class 87 electrics and the new Hitachi class 800 units being delivered for use by GWR. All will be available for pre-order from us, just let us know any requirements.

At the time of going to press we are expecting Peckett 0-4-0 tank engines, LNER (and BR) B12s and original condition SR (and BR) Merchant Navy pacifics in stock by the end of January.

We had a recent meeting with Hornby which outlined their future plans and strategies. Personally I felt the meeting was very positive and Hornby are certainly looking to improve their relationship with the dealers, it has to be said there were a lot of cynical voices in the room and there is clearly a long way to go for Hornby to rebuild their shattered reputation in this industry. I am not going to disclose exactly what was said in that meeting though in public. Let's just say the future looks a lot brighter.

Finally (in case this turns out to be the last blog of 2016) may I take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. A massive thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 12 months and beyond, I couldn't do it without you guys. Keep enjoying your modelling. Tony :)

Friday, 11 November 2016

A Train Set for Christmas and other gift ideas....

It's that time of year when we start looking at the Christmas market and the obvious place to begin is with the classic gift, the train set. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a set for someone but it helps to know what they like when it comes to railways and what they'd be looking for in a starter set.

Kicking off with the above pictured set Military Manoeuvres by Bachmann. I've made no secret in the past of how great I think this set is. For a first time railway modeller the great plus point of this set is it comes with a siding as part of the set so instant 'play value' as shunting can begin straight away without the need for additional track. However, the set being based on Military practice does make it a bit specialist for some modellers especially those who are just starting out....

If you want something a bit more traditional then The Midlander Express gives you exactly that. A very classic set, featuring an LMS Jubilee and two Maroon Mark1 coaches. In BR livery, it represents the period that is still the most popular amongst most modellers as it was the time when both steam and diesel ran side by side. Although as we've touched on in a different blog, the preservation layout offers the same benefit and the chance to mix regions. One negative of this set is it's very much an oval of track and a one train formation, even if there was a siding included it wouldn't be the kind of set you'd want to go shunting with anyway. (As a side note, I remember when I was a kid a friend having have a HST set that came with 2 sidings and a goods shed but looked completely ridiculous with HST coaches being shunted into them by the HST power car!) 

The last Bachmann set we are going to feature is The Permanent Way, a bit different to the other two this one comes complete with Digital Sound fitted to the loco and the entry level Bachmann digital controller. The liveries are very much set in the 90s so only really suits those who want to model the more contemporary scene. Like The Midlander Express it also features just the basic oval of track. Although there is a degree of shunting options that would be available here and being a class 20 it would be well suited to hauling and shunting wagons.

Some good points that all Bachmann sets have to offer are:
  • High quality products, the locos, coaches and wagons are all as good as the best products the range has to offer.
  • Good quality, durable, control systems. We have been using the same Bachmann controller on our test layout for the best part of a decade and it works just as well as a new one. One word of caution regarding the basic Digital Controller is that it only accommodates nine locomotive addresses and can be easily outgrown. Having said that it is also a good quality, durable controller.
  • Excellent value for money for the contents included.
Military Manoeuvres RRP 169.95, Our Price £145.
The Midlander Express RRP 209.95, Our Price £178.50
The Permanent Way RRP 274.95, Our Price £220.

Other sets in stock (not featured):
The Western Wanderer (Pannier Tank and 2 wagons) RRP £99.95, Our Price £85.
The Thames Clyde Express (Midland Compound and 3 Coaches)
RRP £174.95, Our Price £149.
Rural Commuter (105 DMU) RRP £99.95, Our Price £85.

We're not very keen on Hornby Sets here (even though they are the brand name most people are familiar with) but we have got The Postal Express in stock. Which with it's working mail coach and siding offers a great deal of play value and is great for the younger modeller, although we don't recommend it for the serious modeller... Sadly Hornby don't tend to offer their highest quality products in sets, usually it's products from their RailRoad range. Their controllers aren't the most robust of items either... This set RRPs at £119.99 we have it on Special Offer at £80.

Although we don't keep much N gauge in stock we do have two Graham Farish sets available, being made by Bachmann they are of similar quality to the Bachmann sets.

We have The Night Mail for modern image fans featuring a Class 47 with 2 mail coaches and a basic oval of track, RRP £199.95, Our Price £170.

For the steam fan, we have A Day At The Races (not pictured) featuring a BR Std 3 tank engine and 3 horseboxes in BR green. This set also has a siding with it.
RRP £189.95, Our Price £162.

Both sets come with the excellent Bachmann Controller that the OO sets also come with.

That's the sets end of the market looked at, now a time for a look at the other end of the market for 'stocking fillers' and 'cheap' gifts.

 Starting off with the excellent range of Oxford Wagons, at the time of writing all of the single 4 wheel wagons from Oxford come in at under £10 each. Wagons from Bachmann generally range from £12-£22 so there's a significant saving buying Oxford wagons even if the range isn't quite as big.

Another ever popular gift are the Metcalfe range of cardboard building kits, easy to put together and of solid build quality they are popular with those new to the hobby and experienced modellers alike. Prices on these kits ranges from £8 up to £20. We also keep a small range of N gauge Metcalfe products in stock.

Another suitable avenue for the cheaper gift is the pack of figures. We have stocked (and still do stock) the excellent range of figures from Bachmann and Modelscene. But recently have taken delivery of a new range from Woodland Scenics which feature many different scenarios to those we have seen before including Golfers, Fishermen, Cyclists and much more. Prices range from £7-£12.

Last up in our selection are the excellent range of road vehicles from Oxford Diecast. The range includes, cars, buses, lorries, farm vehicles, emergency services vehicles, even Ice Cream vans. A lot of the vehicles are represented in real life corporate colours (including all the railway companies) plus TV and film colour schemes too, the Anglia (top right) is in the same colours as Vyvyan's in The Young Ones! Prices range for £4 for a single car up to £25 for certain lorries & Gift Packs.

And for the man who has everything......

The stunning Bachmann Midland Pullman, which we have featured heavily in a previous blog. A truly magnificent model but costing an eye watering £509.95 (with discount!) it certainly doesn't come cheap!

These are just a few ideas we have for suitable gifts for Christmas. We do, of course, stock a comprehensive range of Locomotives, Coaches, Wagons, Buildings and Scenic accessories to suit all budgets and tastes.

Plus of course, if you're really stuck for what to buy we still do the good old Gift Voucher! 

Thanks for reading this, hope you enjoyed it. Please contact us if you require any advice and what to buy for the Railway Modeller in your life! Keep enjoying your modelling guys, Tony :)  

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

November Events and New Releases

Hi all, sorry we've been a bit quiet in recent times (all I seem to say in these blogs of late!) but here's the traditional month opening blog regarding our upcoming events.

We only have one event to bring you news of this month, but it is a VERY big one!

November 26th/27th, Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. 9:45-18:00 (9:15 for advanced ticket holders, 17:00 Sunday) Admission: Adults: £15.00 (£13.50 advance) Junior (5-16): £8.50 (£7.00 advance) last advance ticket orders 11th November so act fast to save money. Available from the NEC box office 0844 5810737 or

Our debut at the what is still the UK's biggest model railway show, in it's traditional venue of Hall 5 of the NEC. With 90 layouts to see and 150 trade stands there is a lot to see. Plus support from the majority of major manufacturers, there is nearly always a 'big' announcement made by one of them! As you can see from the picture we are stand D17, hopefully if you come you'll find us ok! Full details at

New Releases

Bachmann have dropped out a few new releases including a much anticipated new tooling.

 At long last the first of the new Bachmann Wickham Trollies have appeared, 32-992 in yellow. Still to follow are 32-991 in BR Maroon and 32-993 in yellow with wasp stripes.

We had one out on our test track to see what it was all about on Monday and they run very sweetly. Although we found it struggled with the long insul frog Hornby points. The unit drives off one axle on the wagon, which is fitted with a traction tyre (Bachmann kindly supply a spare pair of tyres). At the present time we are yet to find a solution as regards chipping, Bachmann have stated it isn't possible. My first instinct says that the best bet is to build up the load in the wagon to accommodate a very small chip (like the Gaugemaster DCC22). I will be keeping an eye on the usual forums and in magazines for other solutions.... RRP on this one is £79.95 our price £68.

Bachmann have also released another item in their Network SouthEast 30 collection. The Capital Commuter Train Pack comes with:
Class 416 EMU in NSE livery
Low Relief Art Deco Station with NSE decals
2 x Platform sections
Network SouthEast Publicity Postcards
Reproduction NSE 'Network Card' and holder (in the name of G.J Churchward!)
Certificate of Authenticity

Bachmann have also reissued the ever popular 9F, this time in weathered black livery with double chimney and the large 1F tender. As we have touched on in a previous blog weathering can be a bit hit and miss but this one has turned out very nicely, with some lovely subtle tints and a non uniform look to it. A very smart model. 92189 has been given her 40E Colwick shedplate so it's quite possible she performed on the legendary Annesley Runners from time to time

Continuing the weathered theme (and the reissue theme!) Bachmann have brought the popular little 64xx back in the same three liveries they carried last time around. 31-635a is in GWR, 31-636a returns in BR black early crest and 31-638 (pictured) appears in BR green late crest but this time weathered. Personally I'd rather have seen a bit more variation. Possibly shirt button crest on the GWR version or Early Crest on the BR green version (whether they carried Early Crest in BR green during their service days I'm not sure) but they certainly have in preservation. Maybe the weathering would have been better applied to the black version?

Prices: Capital Commuter: RRP £209.95, our price: £178.50
9F: RRP: £164.95, our price £140.50
64xx Pannier (GWR & Black clean): RRP: £95.95, our price: £81.60
64xx Pannier (BR green weathered) RRP: £105.95, our price: £90.10

And finally! One last arrival, we don't usually feature Second Hand models in the blog but we are selling a SanCheng brass King on behalf of a customer. It could do with a slight touch up but underneath it is a beautifully made all brass locomotive. We are asking £1,000 for this one :)

Thanks for reading, hopefully see some of you at Warley and hope some of the above items are of interest to some of you! Keep enjoying your modelling guys, Tony :)

Ps, more blogs coming soon, I promise! ;)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Recent Arrivals - Bachmann and Dapol

We haven't done a good old fashioned recent arrivals blog for a while so to address that we are bringing you a series of blogs which are pretty much just pics and prices! Bachmann's latest offerings is a range of BR Standards and a mucky 40. While Dapol offer a 2nd bite at their excellent Terrier :)
Weathered 40 Aureol RRP £154.95 Our Price £130.75

A selection of Standard 4s (2 preserved examples) RRP 129.95 Our Price £110.46

Now onto some more reissues but this time in O gauge and the excellent Dapol Terriers make their re-entry to the market.


This time round they have been provided in four different guises:
GWR green No.5 Portishead, a real livery for the loco following purchase by the GWR of the stock and assests of the defunct Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway. Would be a nice stable mate for the upcoming Dapol Panniers....
Southern Olive Green No.9 Fisbourne, a reissue of Olive Green but this time representing an Isle Of Wight resident.
LBSC Umber Brown No.643 (Gipsyhill) another new livery from Dapol, this time the impressive LBSC brown livery as has been seen in recent times on the Bachmann E4 in OO and for fans of full size locos as carried by 672 Fenchurch on the Bluebell railway before withdrawal for overhaul.
BR Black Late Crest No. 32636 and finally a straight forward reissue of the ever popular BR black late crest.

RRP is £220, Our Price is £190 each.

Well that's the majority of recent arrivals covered (see separate blog for Hornby announcements) Please feel free to get in touch if any are of interest. Keep enjoying your modelling guys, Tony :)

Recent Arrivals - Hornby

We haven't done a good old fashioned recent arrivals blog for a while so to address that we are bringing you a series of blogs which are pretty much just pics and prices! Kicking off with Hornby and their latest edition of the World's Most Famous Loco (or is it?) 
R3443 60103 Flying Scotsman RRP £174.99 our price £160
R3408 King Edward V GWR shirtbutton RRP £164.99 our price £148

R3441 4499 Sir Murrough Wilson RRP £149.99 our price £138
R3415 & R3416 J15s RRP £114.99 our price £102 (each)
R3467 Terrier 751 SECR RRP £74.99 our price £70

A couple of notes on the above. The Kings also come in BR blue and BR green late crest (at the same price). The Terrier while being an interesting bold and characterful livery does suffer from not being DCC ready and the coloured plastic wheels.
Keep an eye out for our blogs on Dapol and Bachmann arrivals :) 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Upcoming Events, late September & October.

We had a break from events at the start of the month so have saved launching an events blog until the middle of September and as our first October event is right at the start of the month have chosen to include them at the same time.

Tuesday 20th September 2016, Rugby Evening Toyfair, Benn Hall, Rugby, CV21 2LN. 19:00-21:00, admission: adults: £1.50. Seniors: £1.20. Children: 50p. Our local evening fair, one of the smaller fairs in the UK but offering a reasonable selection of new and used models. Full details at:

Saturday 1st October 2016, Daventry Model Railway Club 4th Annual Exhibition, Parker Academy, Ashby Road, Daventry, NN11 0QF. 10:00-17:00. Admission: Adults: £5.00, Young Person (5-17): £2.50 (under 5s free), OAP: £4.50, Family (2 adults + 2 children): £10.00. We return to our local club's show, whilst not one of the biggest shows in the UK the 17 layouts to 13 traders ratio is very good and it offers a nice smaller show for those of you who aren't keen on the hassle and jostle of the larger events. Good refreshments are available and a friendly team of Daventry club members will be available to look after you. Look out for us in the designated traders hall this year. Full details at:

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th October 2016, The National Festival Of Railway Modelling, East Of England Showground, Peterborough, PE2 6XE. 10:00-17:00 (16:00 on Sunday, 09:30 entry to advanced ticket holders). Admission: Adults; £10 (£9.00 in advance, £8.00 in advance for BRM subscribers). Children: £5.00. Family: £30.00 (2 adults + 3 children). We return once again to the popular show at the East Of England showground. One of the UK's biggest shows featuring over 30 layouts and over 100 traders and societies as well as demonstrators and the BRM village. Well worth a visit. Full details at:

Sunday 23rd October 2016, Coventry Toyfair, The Connexion Leisure Club, Leamington Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry. CV8 3FL. Admission: Adults: £3.00. Seniors: £2.50. Children: £1.00. Early Admission (from 08:00): £5.00. Another of our local toyfairs and a much larger fair than Rugby offering far more choice. Offering around 150 tables. Full details at:

That's all the events for September and October covered. A blog will appear soon detailing all recent new releases and the concluding part of our Woody Bay research. Hopefully the project layout will kick off soon :) Hope to see some of you at these events, keep enjoying your modelling. Tony :)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Recent Arrivals from Bachmann.

We've a bit quiet of late but we're back with a crop of Bachmann re-issues to bring you news about!

First up we have our most recent arrival, which a pair of class 40s. First up we have D338 in green with yellow panel. A split box 40 in green has been long awaited and they have been selling fast here as a result. Also released is 40159 in BR blue with centre headcode. Beautifully applied paintwork and lettering sets the model off a treat along with the superb running qualities that comes as standard with Bachmann models. We are very impressed with these and don't expect either to hang around for long. RRP is £138.95 our price is £118.96

Next up is the retooled Ivatt 2 tank engine. Until recently this was of the few split chassis models left in the range and it's wonderful to see Bachmann's commitment to removing all of these from their range. The chassis is superb, it runs sweetly and quietly, the wheels and motion are a big step up from what went before it. Like the V3 the chassis is designed to take the new 'next 18' chip, which is a fantastic product (see chips article)
However, like the V3 released before it (see our Chips Article for info), the body hasn't received any attention. It has to be said that for it's time it was a brilliant body and can still stand up against the majority of models on the market, but a few minor upgrades would have just set the model off a treat.
Two variants have been produced 41243 with early crest and 41291 with late crest (41291 comes DCC fitted, this can be removed easily) RRP for 41243 is £129.95 our price £110.50 while 41291 (with chip) RRP is £154.95 our price £132. While we recognise the effort Bachmann have put into this we feel that it doesn't stand up well against the models in that price bracket when comparing body details.  

I've saved what I consider to be the best 'til last. Bachmann's latest set 'Military Manoeuvres' is an absolute cracker. RRP £169.95 our price £145. For your money you get a 03 shunter in MoD livery (MoD 2144 Western Waggoner) 2 wagons in MoD livery and a BR standard brake van in MoD livery (not a pillbox as the box states) as well as this you get a circle of track with a siding.
Not only does this combination offer a lot of 'play value' to the first set buyer, I believe freight sets are good for this rather than just a passenger train set, plus the siding allows a wagon to be shunted out or in to the formation too. It also is something really different to the standard fare and at the present time is a rare opportunity for the military modeller to acquire stock in ready to go condition. While we have our reservations about the Ivatt 2, we whole hearted applaud this offering.
We will be taking a more in depth look at train sets closer to Christmas.
That's all for this one guys. At the time of writing all items are in stock in the shop (and still in stock at Bachmann so more can be ordered).
For those of you who are wondering about the progress of the project layout we will be returning to that soon and also be visiting Woody Bay for a charter with the replica Manning Wardle 2-6-2T Lyd and L&B coaches. Organised by the excellent 30742 charters (some places still available I believe) This event coincides with the railways steam gala.
Please feel free to get in touch over anything in this blog or for any other modelling issues. Keep enjoying your modelling. Tony :)

Friday, 5 August 2016

Chips With Everything! The new 'Next 18' chip and others we like!

You might have noticed on the end of Bachmann's latest release the 'Next 18 DCC' symbol for DCC fitting advice, a new name and number of the DCC fitting system in the UK.

Well here it is, retailing at £21.95 it is certainly not cheap as chips (groan!) but it is very small and comes well packaged. This chip is ideal for fitting into those small spaces where other chips cannot go. It's a shame this technology was not available for the likes of the Adams Radial (either Hornby or Oxford) or Hornby's new class 71!

There it is in place, barely sitting proud of the fitting point at all. Whilst not a major issue in our test project (the Bachmann V1/V3, we'll have a look at that in a minute) it can easily be seen how little height is needed to fit one of these chips. Fitting was very easy and the chip found it's place with a confident click. Initial tests found the chip very responsive and smooth straight from the word go, although a comprehensive list of CVs is provided for those who enjoy 'playing' with them. Body back on and a quick number change the job was complete in approximately 5 minutes.

As promised here's a look at the loco it was fitted to, the new Bachmann V1/V3. The originals main issue was it's poor running and unreliability, thanks to it's split chassis. This one seemed to be the worst of the lot in that department (we have 4 in the loft all suffering from knackered chassis) On those grounds the upgrade certainly wins, the chassis is quieter and smoother than it's predecessor, along with better wheels and valve gear, a joy to behold. However, there seems to have been little improvement to the body and the lack of cab detail is very disappointing for a model that retails at an eye watering £129.95 (our price, £110.50) which puts in the same price bracket as the excellent 4Fs and C classes. As a result we are only stocking this model 'to order' (at the moment we have one BR Late Crest example in stock)

Right back to the chips, starting with some we like! On the left we have the Gaugemaster DCC26 (8 pin) which is an excellent budget chip retailing at just £14.95 it's one of the cheaper chips on the market and is easy to install with the chip not taking up to much room. Next up we have another Gaugemaster chip the DCC28 which is a direct plug in of the more conventional 8 pin design. which makes life very easy as it plugs straight in rather than having to find away of hiding wires. One problem is it sits rather high in comparison to other chips. Which is where the chip on the right comes in the DCC Concepts Zen Nano 8 pin direct plug in (with stay alive, if you can find room for it) is an excellent small chip that will fit into most locos including the troublesome Adams Radials! The two direct plug in chips we have found to provide excellent performance straight from the off.

Another favourite of ours is the Bachmann range of chips. They come in 6, 8 and 21 pin varieties (as well as the new 'next 18') and provide very reliable and smooth performance straight from the off every time. While we use a variety of 8 pin chips we very rarely move away from Bachmann for 6 or 21 pin chips.

One we are not so keen on however is the Hornby chip. While they seem to work well with their own systems and reasonably well with any other system. They are notoriously limited in their capabilities and as my DCC expert tells me they are very hard (if not impossible) to reprogram.

I hope this look at some of the chips currently available on the market, especially the new 'next 18' and it's provided some kind of insight into what's available. I'm sure many of you already have your own personal favourites.

Hope you've enjoyed this one and keep enjoying your modelling guys. Tony :)

Ps, I realise 'chips' is slang and I should really call them decoders ;)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

August Events

We have a couple of small events to tell you about in August.

Silver Fox DCC Model Railway Club Exhibition, Saturday 13th August 10:00-16:00. Oakgrove School, Brickhill Street, Milton Keynes, MK10 9JQ. Adults: £5.00, Children £3.50.

A new event for us, the exhibition has 23 layouts and 14 traders. Ranging from Z gauge to O gauge it looks to be a well balanced show and we are looking forward to attending this one for the first time. Full details at

Bridgnorth Toy & Train Fair (Tony Oakes Fairs), Monday 29th August 10:30-15:00. Bridgnorth Leisure Centre, High Town, Bridgnorth, WV16 4ER. Admission: £2.00 (all ages). One of the few toyfairs we still attend, a very enjoyable atmosphere and what better place to spend a Bank Holiday than Bridgnorth, with it's steam railway, cliff railway and beautiful town. Well worth a visit.


Just arrived today, Bachmann 32-381N, 37418 East Lancashire Railway in EWS livery. This had previously been announced as an Olivia's Trains exclusive but has been released to the general market. Limited quantities are available, so grab one while you can! RRP is £137.95, our price £118.00

It would also be a perfect partner for the new EWS saloon! Still some of these in stock.

That's all for this update, keep enjoying your modelling guys. Tony :)

Friday, 29 July 2016

Summer comes soonest in the South....

We all know this famous image, the young child looking up at the engine driver aboard the latest in Southern Railway technology bound for somewhere on the South Coast for the annual holiday. Summer may have come soonest in the south for this young holidaymaker but it certainly didn't come soonest for Southern railway modellers.

For years Southern modellers laboured with poor quality ready to run models or constant kit building to recreate the Southern region in OO. I myself turned my back on modelling the Southern in the 1930s when I found the only King Arthur I could buy ready to run was a poor quality Sir Dinadan and an equally dated M7. There were chinks of light from Bachmann's N class and Lord Nelson along with the recently revamped Terrier tank. Finding good rolling stock was equally difficult. The project was quickly abandoned.

However, the tables began to turn and quality models started to appear. Hornby have given us a plethora of new toolings over the years. Merchant Navys, West Countrys (both rebuilt and un-rebuilt) King Arthurs, Q1s, M7s (with matching Push Pull set!), S15s, T9s, S15s, Black Motors as well as 2-BILs, 2-HALs, The Brighton Belle, a range of Pullman coaches, Maunsell Coaches and parcel vans. Then in the last few weeks, an Adams Radial tank (also produced by Oxford, both to excellent standards), class 71 electrics and just in wonderful LSWR (Maunsell rebuild) non-corridor stock. That's just from Hornby!

Meanwhile, Bachmann have been no slouches in this rise. In recent times we have seen the excellent C class and E4 tank engines introduced, along with a selection of EMUs. They have also dangled the exciting prospect of H2 atlantics and SECR birdcage coaching stock in front of us, but as is often the case with Bachmann, they plan to make us wait! Bachmann also offer a fine selection of goods wagons including the excellent PLV and Pill box brake vans.

We even have PECO and Heljan giving us Southern narrow gauge stock in the form of Lynton and Barnstaple locos, coaches and wagons! (keep an eye on our project layout for more on that one)

So there we have it, model railways very own Cinderella story. Summer might not have come soonest but it certainly has been very much worth the wait. We can now recreate equally well Southern mainline scenes out of Waterloo or head down to the withered arm for those long lost Devon and Cornish lines. For the preserved modeller we can now populate our layouts based on the likes of Bluebell (be prepared to shell out though if you want 592 in SECR livery), Swanage, Isle of Wight and more.

Southern locos and rolling stock are some of the best selling lines we have here, whether it's because Southern modellers have been starved of quality for so long or whether it's because the quality is so high I'm not sure.

So, what's next? Where is the next Cinderella story for Railway Modelling? What about the North East? Will the arrival of Hornby's Q6 see a range of models for that part of the world develop? Or what about north of the border? Now we are seeing a lot of pre-grouping locos produced is it time for a Caledonian, Highland or North British machine to grace the ready to run market?

Hope this is providing food for thought. Keep enjoying your modelling. Tony :)

Friday, 15 July 2016

Launching Project Woody Bay.

Deep in the heart of North Devon and miles from Woody Bay lies Woody Bay station

Launching another new feature of the blog, project Woody Bay. It has long been an ambition of mine to recreate this station in model form and with Heljan producing the iconic Manning Wardle 2-6-2T, PECO producing some of the coaches and wagons and Bachmann reproducing the station building itself there's no excuses left really!

This will be an occasional blog which focuses on all the aspects needed to build this model, so expect to see blogs on:
  • Baseboard construction
  • Track planning and laying
  • Scenery
  • Electrics
  • Locos and rolling stock
But we are going to kick off with where all layouts should kick off and that is at the research stage.  Beginning with a brief history of the railway.

Several schemes had been proposed to reach the hilly areas of North Devon but in 1895 a proposal to build a narrow gauge railway from Barnstaple Town station to Lynton was passed and the line completed in Spring 1898 with the official opening taking place on May 11th. The scheme's most influential backer was Sir George Newnes, a well known publisher who seemed to have a less than perfect reputation with the local population. Regardless of this it was Lady Newnes who officially opened the railway. 

For a short time it prospered but in truth the railway seldom returned any decent profits and as early as 1921 it's demise was being forecast. When we look along the route it is obvious to see why Lynton station, 20 miles from Barnstaple was a long and steep journey. With the unfortunate drawback of the station being high above the town so as not to spoil the views from several prominent residents homes.

Barnstaple Town offered a connection to the LSWR main line (now also closed) and from there the line climbed up into Exmoor. Via, Snapper Halt, Chelfham, Bratton Fleming, Blackmore Gate, Parracombe, Woody Bay and Caffyns Halt before finally reaching Lynton and Lynmouth. A problem many of these locations faced is they were destinations in name only and many miles from the actual villages they served, as we'll see when we look at

Woody Bay later on. The most impressive structure on the route was Chelfham Viaduct, which lays claim to be the largest narrow gauge structure in England. Fortunately the viaduct gained Grade II listed, unlike other L&B buildings and track bed it was not sold at auction and remained property of the Southern Railway, later British Railways and latterly Railtrack/Network Rail. For a line that closed in 1935 it's remarkable that all the stations survive.

It's easy to see why the Swiss chalet style stations like Woody Bay did survive as they made excellent homes, which is what all of the stations apart from Blackmoor Gate, which became a pub.
Woody Bay station probably has the largest claim to have been nowhere near it's destination as it's 3.5 miles to Woody Bay from the station. Plans for a connecting branch. Never materialised.

In 1923, as part of the grouping act, the railway became part of the Southern Railway. Initially the Southern seemed determined to turn the fortunes of the railway around, a new locomotive was constructed along with several new items of rolling stock. It wasn't to be however and the railway closed in September 1935.

This wasn't to be the end for Woody Bay or the Lynton and Barnstaple railway as the line now has a preserved section starting at Woody Bay and running currently for around a mile to Killington Lane but with grand plans to extend. The group also looks after Chelfham Station and Snapper Halt so there is plenty going on with the society. A society I was in fact a member of in the late 90s and where I could helped with initial site work at Woody Bay. Distance proved an issue though so I reluctantly had to give it up. Hopefully one day I shall return there to help once again.

More info on the railway at 

Hopefully the next time we look at the project layout we'll conclude the research with a visit to Woody Bay and have a look at the locomotives and rolling stock of the railway. I hope this blog has proved interesting and something different.

Keep enjoying your modelling guys. Tony :)


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

New Arrivals, Hornby AND Oxford, with Bachmann thrown in for good measure!

Last week we played Hornby v Oxford on their latest arrivals, this week we can look at new arrivals from both companies.

Hornby's 71 in "as preserved" livery

Kicking off with yet another new loco from Hornby! In the last month we have seen three new toolings from them. The Q6, the Adams Radial tank and now the 71.

I won't bore you too much with a history lesson, as many reviewers seem to do. The class was built at Doncaster between 1958 and 1960. The class saw use on the Southern region largely for freight work and trains like the Golden Arrow. By 1977 the class was withdrawn, replaced by 33s and 73s.
The model itself has been wonderfully reproduced. Paint finish, lining and transfers are beautifully applied.

Performance is super smooth and very quiet, a nice detail is being able to see the engine through the side window. A detail pack is included, which features a set of reporting numbers and front skirts should you choose to remove a coupling from one (or both) end. I haven't tried myself yet but one has been chip fitted here and I'm told space is incredibly tight in there and a small chip is the best solution, this seems to be a recurring problem of late. RRP for each model is £154.99, our price £135.

One thing I am very pleased about is the decision not to plaster NRM all over the box of the "as preserved" example as in previous cases I've found it leads to confusion with the Shildon 'high gloss' examples, which I personally think look awful!

 Meanwhile Oxford Rail have released the first of their latest range of goods wagons. First up we have the LNER cattle wagon, seen here in BR(E) guise. First impressions are that it's a very nicely produced wagon with nice details and lettering applied. However, I have been informed by a wagons expert that there are several errors in the model, which could spoil the hardcore enthusiasts enjoyment of them. Our price is £10.50.

Next up we have the North British 4 plank wagon, initially released in it's parent companies colours. This model is again a very good example and the same wagon expert who has several doubts of the cattle wagon has no criticism of note on this wagon. My main issue is the fact they have a very limited use in my opinion as I believe less than 5% of all those built survived to BR ownership in 1948 and that was probably as far as they got! Our price is £8.50.

Overall I think Oxford Rail have made a great job on both of these and they continue their tradition of producing good quality, affordable goods wagons for the steam era modeller.

Last up we have a Bachmann reissue to bring you but quite a significant one. The Inspection saloon makes a welcome return to the range. Three examples are offered, second runs of Maroon and Blue/Grey livery are a nice addition, however it has to be the appearance in EWS livery that has stirred the most interest. As always beautifully detailed and finished it offers something very different to the up to date modern image modeller. All three liveries are available from us, RRP £59.95, our price £50.95.

That's all for this update, the launch of the project layout will come very soon I promise! If any of these items are of interest to any of you or any other queries please feel free to get in touch. Keep enjoying your modelling. Tony :)