The Festival of Model Tramways, is Europe's premier event for the model tram enthusiast.
The 2003 Festival was held on 12th/13th July 2003 at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex.
Click here for List of Exhibitors at the Festival.
This year the Festival returned to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, for two very warm and sunny days. Visitors were able to enjoy the many varied tram models and layouts, together with the sight, sounds and smells of the numerous working steam engines in the Museum.
Before passing through the main entrance, the visitor had to cross over the tracks of the Wootton Tramway, busy carrying passengers in the Museum grounds. Howard Burford's one fifth full size tramway seems to get ever larger as each year passes, and this year sprouted a depot spur. Some of the drivers are getting ever younger too!
Passengers waiting to board at the terminus of Paul Penders' Ybbs/Donau tramway - an H0e narrow gauge layout carried by Paul from Brussels on Eurostar.
After passing through the entrance and down into the 'Water for Life' gallery the first layout seen is 'Westby', by John Butler. The layout was in 4mm scale and combines trams and light rail in a Midlands setting. The ambience of which is further evoked with lights in the buildings and on the trams, giving a good impression of twilight. David Cole's HO scale 'Neustadt' was next which, although under construction, showed what can be achieved in a five by two feet space. Two modern Köln trams were running around over 10 metres of track, folded into two levels. The 2mm scale 'Port of Enn Association' (by Bill Avery) gave your reviewer much to look at, as there are very many tram, railway, trolley and bus vehicles present on the layout. There was even a working funicular that scaled the heights of cliffs built into the back scene. Next along was Ian Druce's 'Times Square', with all the trams in a distinctive orange, light blue and cream livery. The buildings on the layout were lit, with fully detailed interiors, including a painting and decorating scene faintly reminiscent of a Bruce Forsyth or Norman Wisdom sketch.
Gottfried Kure, from Traun near Linz in Austria, was on hand to demonstrate how beginners can build a small tramway from cheap materials under the slogan "Make it simple, the card track tram". His part completed 3.5mm scale layout was working proof of his ideas.
Taking the stairs up to the Steam Hall, found Alan Kirkman and David Voice who demonstrated that a working tram model could be achieved on a very tight budget (about 3 pounds). There was also a tram, which could have been designed by Roland Emmett that followed a short crazy track. The neighbouring stand showed Gottfried Kure's innovative method of making street track with baking foil and card. The trams picked up current from the overhead in the normal way, but returned it through a sheet of foil, visible at the bottom of the groove cut in the roadway. Also in the Steam Hall was 'Caronway Tram Museum', a 7mm layout by Ron Vincett. This featured double track running through a street scene, over which passed a selection of cars from London and Southampton.
Up in the Steam Hall balcony was Darren Franklin's 4mm scale 'Trumpton', (complete with Fire Engine for Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb). Double track ran through a street scene and the layout incorporated an eight track depot.
New for this year was Paul Gumbrell's 0-gauge "Westway", showing three generations of London Underground 'surface stock'. The models are made from solid blocks of wood and then either painted or covered with pre-printed sheets to show the doors and windows.
On the ground floor of the Boulton and Watt Engine House was a display of detailed dioramas by the TLRS West Midlands. Southampton featured a couple of times, together with a Leeds tram depot. Right at the top of the Maudslay Engine House was the TLRS West London Area Group's 4mm scale 'Kew Bridge'. This layout was built to commemorate 100 years of electric trams in London in 2001. Its return to the Festival allowed visitors to again experience the sight of the Kew Bridge Engine Houses and tower in miniature form, whilst standing inside the real thing! Nearby, some of the finest examples of tramway modelling were gathered together for the Models Contest. This year's winner was Tony Tieuli, from Boston USA, with his 7mm scale E1 car in London Transport livery on route 40.
Down in the '100 House' was 'Stepley Transport', a 4mm scale layout by Steve and Martin Whitley. Trams of UK and German origin were running, in a striking red and orange livery, from Queenstone Station modelled in the distinctive 1930's modern style.
The Carshalton and Sutton MRC had their 7mm scale layout on show. Here we see a Glasgow car passing through the street that has been designed to show a typical townscape of the 1930s to 1950s.
In the marquee was the Carshalton and Sutton MRC's layout. This was a 7mm street scene running mainly London cars. Your reviewer, who is an LUT fan, particularly enjoyed the sight of a type 'W' car in ultramarine blue livery. Standing in the middle of the marquee was Paul Gumbrell's 'Westway', an O gauge layout featuring London Underground surface stock. Seeing a set of 1938 stock brought back recollections, from over 20 years ago, of travelling to Richmond on the District line. Further along was 'Severn Mill', an O gauge tramway museum layout by the TLRS Solent Area. Many different trams were running under a newly simplified overhead. Standard and narrow gauge cars were sharing a single wire, which reputedly simplified the operation. Peter Fickweiler's 'Peterstown' was next, showing plenty of action as a large number of trams from all over the world were running under automatic operation. Peter's ingenious overhead construction, consisting of a minimum of soldered points together with compensation springs, was coping well with the heat of the day.
The Aquarium Station terminus of the 120 year old Volk's Electric Railway and one of the cars are nicely modelled in the larger 10mm scale. This extensive layout was displayed by the Volk's Electric Railway Society.
The Volk's Electric Railway Association had brought their model of the line running from Black Rock to the Aquarium. This was a 10mm scale layout, which showed the models together with historic photographs, capturing a good period atmosphere. Even the track 'ballast' consisted of miniature Brighton beach pebbles! Also in the marquee was the 4mm scale 'Marien Platz' layout from the TLRS West of England. This layout featured continental trams, loosely based on Stuttgart and included a car in an unusual overall advertising livery of lilac. The group were also showing two extremes of size. First was a small 4mm scale layout on a 24 by 14 inch baseboard. Second was the first section of modular track for both G scale and five eighths of an inch scale models, which looks to grow into a very large layout.
The T.L.R.S. West of England group had a static display of 1/16th scale trams on show, including Weston-super-Mare toastrack car 14.
The Mezzanine floor featured 'American Trolleys and Interurbans' by Bob Tidball. The overhead looked most impressive with many pull-offs required on the track curves. There was integrated freight working with the trolleys and interurbans and even an operating traverser in the yard. Although small enough to be carried on Eurostar, 'Ybbs an der Donau' by Paul Penders conveyed a wonderful period atmosphere. A small four wheel narrow gauge (76 cm) car moved through a selection of carefully chosen buildings in HO scale. 'West Croydon' by John Clarke was next, which showed modern and first generation tramcars in juxtaposition. The station of the same name was shown in a cutting running diagonally across the layout. This, together with the addition of many more buildings, succeeded in capturing the character of the area.
Bob Tidball showed his 'small-town America' trolley loop terminus in H0 scale. In the centre, a PCC car has just arrived at the trolley depot stop, with some classic interurban cars to be seen in the depot yard.
Trade stands were in attendance in abundance, including many familiar faces. Such a wide range of resources allowed the possibility of researching a chosen prototype from the many books, plans and photographs on offer. Instructions on 'how to do it' could be gained from modelling demonstrations. Then, when one's mind was made up, the necessary tools and components could be purchased to produce the desired model. All this under one roof!
Chris Cornell was kept busy demonstrating and discussing his range of fine-detailed etched brass kits, including his new Manchester "Pilcher" car.
Prior to leaving, visitors were treated to John Prentice's display of poster art, spanning the 15 years that the Festival has been in existence. Designs for the posters were diverse and there was evidence of influences from Frank Pick through to Toulouse Lautrec!
Although the very warm weather may have been a problem for some, it did not seem to deter family groups. Many sons and daughters were treated to the sight of high quality working models, the memory of which should hopefully spur active participation before they become much older. The adults too seemed to enjoy the show, with the models sparking off many questions, observations and reminisces. This year's show may have finished only recently, but I am already looking forward to next year!
Return to Festival of Model Tramways