Thursday, 7 June 2018

Look Back At Bressingham

I promised you a proper review of our experience at Narrow Gauge East, and now we've had the best part of a week seems like a good time to reflect.

There's no denying that going all that way for a one day show was a test of stamina - if not sanity!

I calculated we drove around 900 miles in 60 hours, with a full set up and pack down within those hours, as well as 7 hours of running.

But was it worth it?  Definitely!

For one thing it was the first opportunity we've had to put up the full layout, let along play with it, for more than two and a half years.

Considering that it didn't run too badly, although a spate of uncouplings from a mystery track defect deep inside Goat Tunnel and a board joint imperfection which appeared during the course of the show (probably due to a change in atmospheric conditions) were a little frustrating at the time.

It was terrific to hear from so many visitors that seeing Bron Hebog was their reason for coming to the show in the first place.

The location was inside the Exhibtion Hall at Bressingham Steam Museum which is partly given over to housing an impressive collection of Dad's Army memorabilia, including mock sets.

We found ourselves positioned in front of Frazer's funeral parlour, which seemed somehow appropriate for a Scottish-based layout, although I suspect the dour undertaker would have dismissed model railways as "Rrrrubbish!"

Another of the reasons I was inclined to say yes to the invitation to go there was that I had never visited Bressingham, which has a legendary place in railway preservation.

I'd known about the steam giants which had been kept there decades ago, like Duchess of Sutherland, which have since moved on and returned to the mainline, but I didn't know about their collection of narrow gauge engines and that they have a number of reasonably lengthy loops which they run them on,

I was delighted to be invited to take a footplate ride around one of the circuits on board the 'Port Class' Quarry Hunslet 'Gwynedd'

We were treated by the staff organising the show like honoured guests all weekend.

They didn't flinch when we turned up more than an hour before they'd said the hall was available for setting up.

We were able to bring our van right into the museum to unload at the precise spot where the layout was to be assembled - and this was a great bonus when packing up on the Saturday afternoon when it was teeming with rain.

All our travelling expenses were paid, as you'd expect, but they also agreed to accommodate our operating team not just on the night before the show but also on the Saturday night following, meaning we were properly rested before facing a 400 mile drive home.

We were put up in a high quality bed and breakfast with a lovely village pub just across the road where we spent a couple of very convivial evenings.

Nothing was too much trouble. Free water, tea, coffee, lunch and biscuits were provided.

They dug out some crush barriers for us to protect the front of the layout where the trains run along an embankment closed to the edge.

Now you might think that this is quite standard for a well-run model railway show, and you'd be right.

What impressed me was that this was a commercial event put on by a charity / businesses, not a dedicated model railway club and I know that quite often people who take their layouts to these type
of shows can feel rather ignored and taken for granted.

This was not the case at Bressingham, so credit where it's due to Philip and his team of museum staff and volunteers,

And probably most impressive of all, when we popped into the café to buy a pot of tea after we had arrived on Friday the girl on the till accepted a Scottish bank note without a second glance!

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