This weekend is the Swindon Railway Festival. This is held at the STEAM museum in Swindon which serves as an excellent backdrop for the event. This is a big event in the model railway calendar and many well known modelling brands are represented, and modellers from all over the country bring their railway layouts to exhibit them to the public.
In one hall there was a very large layout which made my eyes pop out. There were multiple railway lines and many trains moving regularly. This track was so big that there were chairs where you could sit and watch the trains and admire the modelling. I sat here for a while, hypnotised by the sheer scale of the layout and the many trains. Around the outside of this large room there were traders selling various modelling tools, paints, parts, and other railway modelling bits and pieces. In here I met Pete Waterman OBE who had a table with a selection of his O gauge locomotives.
In another hall there was another large layout. Instead of going round and round, this layout went from one end of the wall to the other with a scenic bit in the middle. At each end there were areas where the exhibitors could fiddle with the trains, these are called fiddle yards. There was a ‘Thomas’ corner with a small layout running engines with faces from Thomas the Tank Engine.
Through the museum exhibits there were other various layouts that were being run. I liked the detail that every exhibitor had gone to, to make their layout stand out from the crowd, and make theirs a popular draw with the public. Many of the layouts had countryside and country stations with passengers waiting for the coming trains. One particular layout was set as a railway yard and all of the buildings were dirty and grimy with a train running through the middle of it with ‘smoke’ and ‘steam’ coming out of the funnel, which made it very atmospheric.
Outside there were also food bars and some traction engines in steam to look at.
As usual the access at STEAM was excellent and the staff very friendly. I could see all the layouts easily except one which was at eye level for your friendly giant, and another where they were running a timetable and nothing was moving when I was there.
Click the picture to go to the gallery and see some more images.www.steam-museum.org.uk