May seemed like a return to former times with Group members exhibiting at two shows on successive weekends – Chitterne went to Bracknell and Navigation Road (MRJ 266) was reinvigorated for the Salisbury and South Wilts RS’s exhibition the following weekend. Both received many positive comments. How great it was to be able to meet old (now two years older) friends and see good demonstrations and fine layouts in operation.
When the Chairman’s Challenge was announced six members expressed an interest. Electronic discussions led to the idea of a branch line based on a WW1 military railway. Initial activity on the actual layout was very much ‘working from home’. By summer 2021 we had baseboards with track laid and were under way. Although we subsequently had difficulties in meeting together, the overall process from conception to almost finished product was truly formative.
We were delighted when Chitterne was accepted for exhibition at Bracknell. The members who produced the model were all relatively inexperienced in layout design and construction and were thus very pleased to attend. We found the Challenge stimulating, daunting, and occasionally frustrating. At Expo EM Spring we shared a sense of great satisfaction in all our work having produced a layout that received many positive comments from spectators as well as invitations to show it elsewhere.
Chitterne’s first exhibition highlighted some issues for the future. Couplings are a problem as the rolling stock comes from individual members who each use different versions. Separate from that is the need to produce appropriate wagon loads for military traffic. Then there is a prototype problem of having a military branch with its own loco working onto a GWR branch which has ‘one engine in steam’ operation.
Bringing Navigation Road out of semi-retirement has slowed work on the forthcoming Parkstone layout. So we have plenty to do in the months ahead.
This report – written by Joe Newman – appears in issue 232 of the EM Gauge Society newsletter.