Model railways prove a big hit

Matt Wildsmith with his Wipers Times Fishhook & Menin Railway Line PPP-140517-192451006
Matt Wildsmith with his Wipers Times Fishhook & Menin Railway Line PPP-140517-192451006

SMALL railways proved a big attraction in Felpham.

The sixth SWING model railway exhibition was on course to better last year’s attendance of 300 visitors to marvel at its high quality layouts.

Among those on show from some of Britain’s finest model makers was the The Wipers, Fish-hook and Menin display by Matt Wildsmith.

It commemorated this summer’s 100th anniversary of the first world war with a bleak depiction of a narrow gauge line which would have served the trenches in France.

Liphook Railway Club member Matt said: “This is very different from the usual model railway layout. People look at it because it is unusual to see something like this.

“It becomes more fascinating once I tell people the history of the lines used to transport troops and equipment to the front line.

“I tried to make it as grim and bleak as possible by setting it during the winter.”

He has used artistic licence on the 7ft-long by 3ft-deep display to emphasise the role and sacrifice of the network which worked mainly at night to avoid alerting the enemy too much.

It was one of 12 layouts on show at St Mary’s Centre last Saturday.

Another of note was the Boot ‘Owd Ratty’ layout from Peter Kazer, from Yorkshire.

The author and leading narrow gauge modeller’s finely crafted display full of artistry and skilled miniature engineering won the John Hayward Shield for the best layout.

Other displays included Southwold 1922 by Stewart Green from Lowestoft who won the Ernie House Cup after a close vote by his fellow exhibitors.

There was also Snipe End Farm from the east of England and Lyn Owers’ London 1870 based on buildings described by Charles Dickens.

The layouts ranged in size to show artistry can be created in confined spaces. The show was the sixth to be staged by a group of railway modellers from Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Organiser Richard Rundle said: “We’ve got modellers from Yorkshire, Manchester and Cambridge, as well as the local area.

“Hopefully, we have something that will inspire everyone and inspire young people into the hobby.”

Plans are being made for a bigger event next year after visitors travelled from Bournemout and Yeovil. The show helped the Dizzy diabetes charity.