The Festival of Model Tramways

The 2006 Festival Of Model Tramways

The Festival of Model Tramways, is Europe's premier event for the model tram enthusiast.

The 2006 Festival was held on 22nd/23rd July 2006 at the Museum of Transport, Boyle Street, Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

Click here for List of Exhibitors at the Festival.

Festival Review by Ron Howes

Photographs and captions by John Prentice

On July 22nd and 23rd 2006, for the eighteenth time the Festival brought together tramfans from across Britain and, increasingly, the world. Modellers and traders filled 43 stands in the Manchester Museum of Transport and the models on show ranged from 3/4" scale down to 1:160, continental N scale. So let's imagine we've arrived at Boyle Street on the heritage bus from Victoria Station. Here's a description of our tour of the show.

Keith Walton Here are cars on the G-scale layout "Littlegee" from Keith Walton of Bristol, part of the display from the West of England group of the T.L.R.S.

Entering the larger hall we found John Prentice's display of 4-wheel East London cars and, alongside, the models competition. Best in Show this year, from a satisfyingly large entry, was Steve Broomfield's 3/4" scale bogie double-decker, Preston No. 30 of 1904. In the main space of the hall, visitors' attention was first caught by Anthony Sibert's "Liverpool Penny Return", again in 3/4" scale. One car running here represented '"work in hand" in the shape of a model of Liverpool's proposed post-war car with a mock-up "test-bed" body. We look forward to its "proper" body being finished. If it matches the standard of the engineering visible beneath the mock-up this is going to be a notable model. The prototype was never built.

Line A On the stand selling Russian "Line A" models and Zheleznodorozhnoe Delo publications, including their Russian Museum Trams calendar, is Elena Shcheglova from Moscow, who was kept busy interpreting for us all.

In the first aisle behind "Penny Return" were found ABS, Alphagraphix and this year's furthest-travelled traders, "Line A" from Moscow, indicating that the tramway and railway hobby is alive and well in Russia. They were most welcome and charming exhibitors. Across the aisle were two familiar friends, "Neustadt" by David Cole, and Wilf and Joan Helliwell's "Northern town tramway", both models as delightful as ever and an interesting contrast in scales and prototypes. The end of this row found Jonathan Clay engaged in painting a new subject for his growing range of transport prints.

Tim Parkinson Leeds trams from around 1950 are shown on the fine layout in 4mm scale from Tim Parkinson from Yorkshire.

Around the end of the row our worthy editor was presenting his service for digitising photographs, with the LRTA stand next to him, followed by David Packer's extensive range of photographs. Then came Tim Parkinson's model of a corner of Leeds, with the trams running past original buildings skilfully modelled to give an atmosphere of reality. Across the aisle, Andrew Hunt's "Jäger Straßenbahn" modular layout was shown in one of its shorter configurations. In 3.5mm scale and portraying a German prototype this model is another old friend. Next to Andrew were MDS Book Sales before we came to one of this year's new working layouts, Alan Brown's "Upson Down". Showing just how much can be squeezed into a small space (It's only about two feet square, if that) it represents a welcome return of TT scale, using the Lledo die-cast trams, controlled by relays, leaving the operator both hands free for a cup of tea and a sandwich.

Holmethorpe John Thurston brought his 7mm scale layout, "Holmethorpe", over from his home in France. This layout represents the Leeds area.

Rounding the end of the row of stands we came to John Thurston's 7mm 'Holmethorpe" which he had brought from France. Next to him was MTS. Phil Elverd told me he had lots of new items, including a ready-to-run Burnley bogie truck. On the end of this row was Ernie Mitchell's 00 scale Blackpool seafront model, convincing enough to make one imagine leaving one of its hotels for a tram ride, the beach or the working funfair.

Leyburn Avenue Alan Kirkman from the West Midlands showed his "Leyburn Avenue - Norbreck", an automatic layout in 00 gauge.

Facing Ernie was Rolfe Hafke, from Cologne, who had brought a stock of useful items for modellers of continental Systems. Rolfe is a member of the German-speaking Group of TLRS, whose stand next to his was manned by Gottfried Kure of Traun in Austria showing his small 1:160 Continental "N" scale layout, which had buildings made by computer-processing photographs of their prototypes. A similar method was used to produce overlays to re-livery tramcars. The Electric Railway Society's bookstall came next in line followed by M.E.T.E.R. Electronics. Their working Faller road system layout led us round into the next aisle, beginning at the Model Tramway Shop alongside TLRS Book Sales, the West Midlands TLRS Group, and David Voice showing us how it should be done, as was Alan Kirkman who also had his 00-scale "Leyburn Avenue, Norbreck" at work.

Manchester M.T.G. A group of Blackpool cars including this Blackpool and Fleetwood car were on the complex 5/8" to 1 foot scale track of the Manchester Model Tramway Group.

Just across from Alan was another new layout, Bob Wardle's 'Chesworth' in 7mm scale, on its first outing. It incorporated an impressive quarter-grand union, as did another layout at this end of the hall, the Manchester Model Tram Group's layout in the "Manchester" scale of 5/8' to the foot. This enormous layout could not be missed. "L"-shaped, it covered an area of some 50 feet by 30 feet. Some parts of it, and at least one car are 50 years old this year, dating back to the days of George Oakley.

Tram Stop Douglas Sutherland's "Reichenbach" Swiss style N-gauge layout forming part of the "Tram Stop" display of our friends from Scotland.

Our tour then took us by way of Ron Stevenson's 00-gauge freelance layout which, with Douglas Sutherland's "Reichenbach" in continental "N" (1:160), the latter new to the Festival, jointly constituted "Tram Stop". Passing Arthur Dawson's magnificent static display we went through the doors into the lower hall which housed the Buckinghamshire Garden Railway Society's "G" scale garden layout, one terminus of which was eight feet above ground, reached by a rack gradient of 1 in 4. Opposite were the boys and girls from North-East England, Dave Allinson with his static London display, including Bow Depot frontage, George Wilkinson's "Sea Lane" 7mm scale looking every bit as good as it did recently in Railway Modeller, Chris Little's freelance 00-scale "Ashborough" and Gordon and Margaret Bulmer's "Sunderland Tramways", with a new depot area.

Buckinghamshire G.R.S. A G-scale locomotive of the Furka-Oberalp railway could pull a tram to a great height on the line of the Buckinghamshire Garden Railway Society.

Returning to the main hall, on the far side was Dieter Lehnhardt, from Saxony, showing his range of tinplate "0" gauge trams, including a blue double-decker, No.345, and next to him the TLRS West of England Group's display comprising Keith Walton's new "G" scale, Earnest Earnshaw's 3.5mm continental layout and Mark Blackstone's 3/4" scale. Which leaves us with two exhibitors who were not "on the programme", "Crazy Trains", publishers of videos and "Trams" magazine, and Chris Cornell who showed his new London HR/2 and E/3 etched brass kits in both 4mm and 7mm scale. On our way out we passed the LCC Tramways Trust, though the goodies on sale here made passing by without stopping difficult!

Mark Blackstone 3/4" to 1 foot scale models of Bath, Newcastle and SouthMet cars on a display by Mark Blackstone from the West of England.

Of course, the Museum's regular exhibits, including Manchester tram 173, an L.C.C. conduit plough, and that enormous horse bus were there to see, too and the Museum's cafe did a wonderful job keeping us all fed and watered, manned by some of the marvellous band of the Museum's volunteers. To all of those lasses and lads our grateful thanks, both for their preparation and takedown work and for the bacon butties for breakfast.

Arthur Dawson Arthur Dawson put together this display of models in many different scales made by himself and his friends from Lancashire.

How to sum up the show? As well as a feast of tramway modelling, it's an excellent chance to meet again all the folk we've not seen for a year or two. Then, someone I know bought a Mark Hughes kit for a Manx Electric Winter saloon from Alphagraphix and, being in need of wheels for it, asked David Voice to measure the display model to see what size they should be. Armed with the answer, he made for Derek Lambelle, who sold them to him, all in the space of a few minutes. That can only happen at the Festival!

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© Copyright John R. Prentice Software 2006