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A visit to Pendon

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Ian Holmes

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I'm just back from my holiday to England. As per usual it was all too brief a visit.

But I did get a chance to do something I've always wanted to do.

Visit Pendon.

I've wanted to go there ever since I was bitten by the finescale bug and heard about the place. But whilst living in England I never got a chance to go. From the East Coast of Lincolnshire to Oxford is a long drive and the day was never long enough to go there and back in a day. So when I discovered that Pendon was only 8 miles from the hotel I had booked in Oxford. I had to go. The wife was agreeable. The visit was on.

However with the heavy snows on Saturday in the Oxford area I was concerned that perhaps the country roads to Long Wittenham would be blocked. I needn't have worried though for as we made our way over there the snow was melting to slush very quickly.

But other potential visitors to the place must have thought the opposite and didn't venture out that afternoon so Lorrie and I got what amounted to a personal tour, especially of the magnificent Vale scene.

The Madder Valley was excellent to see.

The Dartmoor scene was super.

But the Vale.

If you are seeing the Vale for the first time, Nothing. I repeat NOTHING. Can prepare you for what you will see.

Stunning just doesn't go far enough. When you reach the top of the stairs and see approximately 15 feet in depth of 4mm scale countryside in front of you that contains nothing but a few trees and a railway embankment. The "nothingness", the space, is almost overpowering. We are so used to seeing layouts where selective compression is the norm that to see scale countryside with little or no compression just boggles the mind. (first picture below)

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This view above with just a bus in the scene was a favourite view of mine.

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Then there are the cottages, stunning examples of the model makers craft. I often wondered in my younger days if I could do that. I saw cottage modeller extraordinaire Chris Pilton do a demo at a show once and was amazed. My guide around the Vale scene was most insistent that I could do it, the wife thinks I could too. Perhaps I could...

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This farm scene is beautiful.

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Even though a railway runs through the Vale scene I have to say I barely noticed it.

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The final picture shows the full length of the scene. The back wall is over 70 feet or one scale mile away.

I came away inspired.

Even my wife thought it was excellent. Even for a modeller such as myself who generally models tiny layouts I'm sure there was a lot for me to learn with the use of the space and the detailing of the models.

There we go then, You've probably heard this a hundred times before but if you haven't been to Pendon. You really should go. You won't regret it.

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Those snaps have inspired me to make the pilgrimage. I remember seeing an article in a model mag in the sixties, but ridiculously I have never been!

 

That first pic does it for me.

 

Thanks Ian.

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Went for the first time last summer. A cool-ish day, a dozen or so visitors were entertained by volunteers(?) explaining what the next train would be and why and where it was going, as well as pointing out and explaining various features to anyone who cared to ask. Prototypical length freight and passenger trains too! Even SWMBO (who thinks model trains are for small boys in short trousers) was very impressed! Need to get another "fix" this year!

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Seconded!

 

It must be nearly 29 years since I last visited Pendon - looks they have been cracking on a bit since then!!

 

I was with me dad and there was only us left in so they turned the lights off just for us to show the Nightscene and I've been kinda captivated by such things ever since :)

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Great photos Ian, thanks for posting them. The first one in particular illustrates your important point about space very well.

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Lovely pics Ian. Have they relaxed the 'no photography' ban then (as with a museum) or does that only apply downstairs and not to the Vale scene?

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You can photograph to your hearts content as long as you don't use flash. I had my DSLR set at ISO 1600 to hand hold my shots. The image stabilisation on my Canon helped a lot too.

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