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 :)

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