The latest meeting of the Cumbrian Regional Area Group was at Brian Lewis’ house in Windermere, when five of us and two wives met. After fighting our way across the main road to Ambleside (it’s surely immoral for tourists to bring cars into the Lake District?) and walking to a super pub for a good lunch we returned to Brian’s house and set up Royston Vasey, as a test for the next week’s visit to the Workington exhibition. It took just 30 minutes to have the first train running. Brian tried out his ZTC DCC controller and proved that it worked well with a standard DC loco, which was encouraging in showing that it would be possible to move to DCC in stages, without the expense of chipping all locos immediately.
Brian then tried some of his DCC stock on Royston Vasey, with less success. The Class 52 Westerns derailed on the lumpy track work and the “flying banana” was foul of gauge, the external prop shafts on its bogies hitting the brass tongues of the cassette joiners.
Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable meeting and discussed how the group should proceed in future. The next meeting of all males present was at the Workington show the following week, where Phil was main PR man and exhibiting Thomas the Tank Engine (a really good way of getting the children involved) and Brian helped me operate Royston Vasey on the Saturday. Griff helped me on the Sunday and David also turned up as a visitor. It was a fun show but with little real finescale content. The visitors were mostly parents and children, rather than real enthusiasts, so I was rather sad that Brian Hetherington’s wonderful S&D locos on the adjacent S4Soc stall were not really appreciated by most of the crowds. We had a couple of nibbles by people who said they might be interested in joining the Society, but nothing definite. Still, Bob managed to get some serious modelling in: he was building some NBR end-tippler wagons for use on Burntisland at Glasgow, the following week.
Partly as a challenge to myself I had taken Royston Vasey by public transport, kindly sponsored by Northern Rail, who gave me a free pass for the duration. This worked pretty well, except that I became very anxious when the layout was out of my sight in the luggage area of a very busy train, full of noisy teenagers. But it came to no harm. Realising that such a tiny layout needed something to make it special, I had made Royston Vasey a snowy scene and had placed some scale blackbirds, rabbits and a carrot (the snowman’s nose!) for the children to find, which encouraged them to take more than a cursory glance.
One notable trend was the number of usually small layouts which had very nice diesels chuntering about yards making very realistic sounds courtesy of DCC. This is not my type of modelling but one can see why it’s so popular, when these can be bought, plonked on the track and played with (sorry, operated) in a very realistic manner, straight out of the box.
We decided that thereafter, rather than meet ad hoc, we should have a regular pattern of meetings and we chose the first Saturday of each month. Moreover, since we are so scattered and few in number, we would also make a real effort to contact all EM Gauge Society members in the area. So the meetings for this year will as follows:
Mar 6, Apr 3, May 1, June 5, July 3, Aug 7, Sep 4, Oct 2, Nov 6, Dec 4.
So far the only venue definitely settled is the March 6th meeting, which will be at my house. Hosts for the remainder will be press-ganged nearer the dates.