There can't have been many OO9 Society events which have thrown in a free cricket match as part of the entertainment, but that was certainly the case with the Surrey Group's Members' Day in early September. Held in Grayswood, in leafy Surrey, the exhibition took place in the village hall which also served as the cricket pavilion adjacent to the village green.
As the day wore on, strange men in white clothing arrived and proceeded to knock seven bells out of a little leather ball. Demon bowlers aimed at demon batsman and with only five points required for promotion, Grayswood took up the challenge against local rivals with a vengeance.
Meanwhile, back in the hall....! This was the second 'Surrey Narrow Gauge Convention' organised by the Surrey Narrow Gauge Modellers and was much more akin to the small members' days of years gone by rather than the mega exhibitions of recent times - a trend that should be encouraged. A nice selection of layouts had been drawn from the local area, including a number from the neighbouring Wessex Group. John Thorne's trio of small layouts "Scrubbs Lane", "Ditton Marsh" and "Long Ditton" are full of detail and provide the viewer and operator with much interest - ideal inspiration for those with little room for a layout. "Dudleigh Moor" from the Witley MRC provided a multi-level run amid scenery which captured the bleak and dour nature of upland England.
Dave Hammersley was showing "Griffin Yard" alongside his Roxey Mouldings stand. This minimum space layout recreates the atmosphere of a paper mill inspired by the Sittingbourne system in Kent and features much scratchbuilt Sittingbourne inspired locomotives and rolling stock.
At the other end of the scale, Daniel Knight-Gray's "Barnstaple to Pilton Yard" was under construction and represents the start of the old Lynton & Barnstaple Railway and its locomotive depot. This could be quite an impressive model when it is finished and I look forward to seeing it again as it progresses. Another large layout is "RAF Chapple" by Andy Beresford, which features an imaginary Second World War airfield and the railway built to serve it. Again, this layout is impressive in its undertaking and unusual in its subject matter. As someone who only seems to build small layouts I am always intrigued by those who seem to be able to transport around such large systems to exhibitions with ease!
Three layouts were on show from the Wessex Narrow Gauge Modellers - Ian Turner's "Roestok" featuring much of his magnificent African and Colonial handbuild locomotives and stock; Mick Robert's "Pyattston", which is soon to be joined by a quayside section representing another part of the line - or so I understand. Howard Coulson's "Dragonby" is unusual in that it represents a modern preservation line attached to a standard gauge steelworks line. Although it uses its own stock, Howard was running a number of his scratchbuilt locomotives from his classic "Eitomo" African layout.
Last, but by no means least was Robert Bough's "Duffield Bank" layout - the only non-OO9 layout in the show. This O-9 layout is the start of a larger model based on Sir Arthur Heywood's 15 inch system in Derbyshire and again featured much scratchbuilt stock - and a tennis court, complete with match in progress!
Along with Roxey Mouldings, trade support was provided by Eileen's Emporium - I always welcome the opportunity to stock up on those hard to find modelling materials; Meridian Models, with their ever increasing range of kits and parts; and Brian Guilmant and his Members' Sales Stand always packed with bargains!
Even the refreshments from 'The Station Buffet' followed a railway theme with Bagnall bangers in a bun and the Hunslet bacon roll. Cries of "I've never tasted a Fowler burger!" were taken the right way I'm pleased to report!! It all added a fun touch to an excellent day.
As the day wore on and the runs built up, exhibitors began to look nervous as rumours spread that the ball had been known to come flying through the windows and as "RAF Chapple" did not appear to be equipped with tin helmets the crowd had to be vigilant! Mind you, those taking tea on the veranda would have caught it before any damage could have been done.
The invitation to "Come and Natter Narrow Gauge" is always inviting and the Surrey Group provided a great opportunity to do so. Visitor numbers reached about ninety but that was not the point of the exercise - those that did come saw some good layouts (and some fine batting!), those who stayed away missed out. Look out for the next time and join in the fun!
My congratulations go to John, Richard, Terry, Len and the rest of the Surrey Group for the hard work in providing such a good day out - what was the final score?
© 2000 SNGMs