Hi guys. Today we visited the 2012 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, held in its traditional home of 'Hall 5' at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre. The show generally attracts approximately 18000 people, 12000 of which visit are said to visit on the Saturday. We've visited Warley every year since 2003, and have been lucky enough to exhibit three times: 2006, 2008 and 2010. Our layout is the 'LEGO Railway'; a colourful O Gauge display which includes moving LEGO train models. The layout will make a hopefully welcome return to Warley for exhibition in November 2013. Today we were just the general visitor, and arrived in Hall 5 just after the 'Advanced Tickets' opening time of 9:15am. There was, as usual, a wide variety of displays including at least 75 layouts in various scales and gauges. There were also countless trade stands, demonstrators and society displays.
The centrepiece locomotive this year, well locomotives I should say, were "Alfred" & "Judy". These two diminutive Bagnall 0-4-0STs were built to standard gauge but to a very small loading gauge. They needed to be able to traverse very tight curves and steam under an extremely low bridge. "Judy" was the first, built in 1937 to a height of only 90 inches on 33" driving wheels. She cost £1200 to built and weighed in at 16 tons. The bridge under the Cornish Mainline on the railway at Port of Par was 8ft high, with "Judy" being designed to fit through by just shy of 4 inches! "Alfred" was built to the same design (with subtle differences) in 1953 and worked at Port of Par alongside "Judy".
"Alfred" has spent most of his preservation life in the Cornwall area: mostly at Bodmin & Wenford. "Judy" was eventually reunited with "Alfred" and steamed for the first time in preservation in April 2009. If you think you can see a certain similarity with two TV show characters you would be right. "Alfred" & "Judy" ended up being written into the Thomas the Tank stories as "Bill" & "Ben" the China Clay engines, sealing their place in the hearts of children forever. The green pair sat shining on two short lengths of track with staff from the B & WR on their footplates answering questions and talking to the public. At the back of the hall was "Lyd"; the Ffestiniogs big L & B replica...part of the Narrow Gauge display. It was nice to see these loco's a long way from home, in the warm in Birmingham.
All in all a very good visit to Warley 2012. We will, as I say, be there in 2013 with the LEGO Railway so please look out for us if you are a regular visitor to the show ;) Best regards, Sam.