Railway Modelling by the Spanish, shops, exhibitions etc...
Get ready for a few eye openers !
As the "International Liaison Officier" for the Mora La Nova Railway Museum in Southern Catalonia, with a long History in real railways and modelling (Check out my profile). I can say that railway modelling by the Spanish is severely limited.
The (Spanish) Museum owner, himself an avid Spanish HO scale, LGB and 5 inch gauge modeller, stated this:
Quote: "As the Spanish do not understand real Railways, or Railway Museums because railways still exist. There is little railway modelling outside Catalonia, and only a limited amount within. There is the additional problem that the Spanish have in the main never even heard of the existence of model railways, and even if they have, Railway Modelling requires a number of skills that Spaniards simply don't have." Unquote !
Spaniards it seems only believe in Museums for things that have ceased to exist such as the Roman Lead Mine Museum just a few miles up the road from my location. Even the authorities seem blithley unaware that going down a Roman Lead Mine Museum can't exactly be called healthy. Lead being a dangerous product even to handle, but in a trapped underground atmosphere........
In Catalonia there are around half a dozen Model Railway clubs in and around Barcelona. There is another in Reus is southern Catalonia, and of course I have started one here in Mora. A couple more in Madrid, and certainly one in the Valencia area, and rumour has it a couple in the Northern Basque Region. However most of these clubs are primarily interested in larger 5 inch to 10.25 inch scales, as they do not distinguish between Railway Modelling and Model Railway Engineering. All the Catalonian Clubs mentioned do have HO and in most cases N gauge layouts, although not on the same site as their outdoor railways. It also appears, certainly in Catalonia, that outdoor modelling is bigger than indoor modelling, and this must be due mainly to the climate.
There are a number of fairly good model railway shops in Barcelona, as I was taken on a guided tour of all of them. However I saw NO British outline at all. Mostly German ranges are stocked, in addition to the limited amount of Spanish outline. There is another shop in Reus, a couple in Madrid, one In Valencia and one in Alicante. However many of the small tools and DIY type parts British modellers take for granted are totally unknown in Spain. Indeed the Editor of a Spanish modelling magazine came hot foot to the Museum when he was told I was constructing a large British layout and building handbuilt points, signals buildngs etc. He refused to believe the rumours, and was therefore rather stunned when he arrived !
However, I found the Hornby website listed lots of Model shops for Spain. But when I started checking these shops out, I quickly found 90% do NOT exist, or only stock Hornby's Scalextrix slot car system. There was only one genuine shop I found and he only stocked Hornby Electrotren, and had less than a dozen items in stock.
I have only been able to trace one model railway show in Spain, and this is the so called Spanish National Model Railway show every March in Lleida, Central Catalonia. There used to be a show in Barcelona, but now nothing. There might possibly be something in Madrid but I have not been able to confirm or deny this so far. Last years show had 37 Spanish and 2 French layouts, of which only the 2 French layouts could be called reasonable. All of the Spanish layouts seemed to be club layouts, some fairly large. But all bar one appeared to have horrendously badly made baseboards, and virtually no trains running on any of them. Whenever anythng moved it more frequently than not derailed at the first baseboard join, excepting one very nice N gauge layout, that it turned out had been professionally produced by a German layout building company in Nordhausen. The show also included oddball things such as a large WW2 battlefield diorama of Stalingrad. Trade was restricted to half a dozen shops (4 from Barcelona, 1 from Madrid and 1 from Valencia). And a whole host of secondhand stalls.
Another odd recent revelation
Two weeks ago I was approached by one of the locals who had heard about my layout "Basingstoke" (details of this layout on RMweb in "Modelling real locations"). He encouraged me to pop into Mora's little exhibition centre to see his LGB "layout".
What I found was an exhibition for "Playmobil" (the childrens toy). He had simply added a couple of circuits of LGB track to a temporary scene laid out on some table tops, and thought this was a model railway. What I discovered was that the whole show was for "Playmobil" and that it wasn't for children but for fully grown men ! He then went on to proudly tell me they were expecting at least a 1000 visitors (a very large number for a little inland town for any type of exhibition). He then went on to explain that "Playmobil" shows went on in virtually all towns and that the previous week in Ampollia (on the coast near Tarragona) 13,000 adults (more than the National model railway exhibition) had gone to that show. His explanation was fully and enthusiastically supported by a couple of other men who all agreed "Playmobil" was a big "hobby".
The relevance of these incredulous revelations as far as Model railways go is this:
That the Spanish, as the Museum owner has said, have none of the skills necessary to do model railways. That in fact the simplicities of a childs toy is about their limit. When you only have to arrange your little toys on a table covered with sand. This being the method displayed all around the exhibition hall I was shown, by numerous men and some of their wives.
At the end of the day, there is another problem which the museum owner has pointed out to me. This is that the limited demand for model trains in Spain, makes it a lot harder if you wish to model a specific place or a particular era, as he himself has been trying to collect suitable locomotives for a 1974 "end of Spanish steam layout" for over 10 years.
A Ray of Hope!
One bright note is that there are a handful of specialist one man band producers. We had just such a producer at our Museum Annual Festival this weekend (8 and 9th October). This Gentlemen produces very good quality Ready Made Spanish railway buildings from water towers to large station buildings. Each model is a mix of laser cut wood and resin, and sometimes the odd plastic part. I am adding a photo of one of these to give you a taster here. Prices started at around €15 for a water tower, and went up to a few hundred Euros for a medium sized multi-floored station building in either N or HO scale.
I have a number of photos of many of his buildings and I intend to Post all the information I have on this producer including contact details, in the next couple of days as time permits. I haven't decided which category would best help modellers here on RMweb yet, but I will post the information under the title: "Spanish Railway Quality Ready made Railway Buildings" . I have no personal involvement with this business, but I was impressed with what he produces, and thought it a good idea to put it up on RMweb as it would otherwise be unlikely anyone outside Spain will ever come across these models.
Above: Ready Made in laser cut wood, resin roof and plastic stairs, HO and N scale models of the Signal box at Mora La Nova station on the mainline from Barcelona (via Tarragona) to Zaragoza and Madrid.
Edited by 71000, 28 November 2017 - 05:01 .