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Tolworth Showtrain Nov 10th & 11th


jonhall
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As for trade, I tend not to expect too much in the way of finescale supplies from this show.  What does it for me is the bric-a-brac stall hosted by Terry Cole of Steam Age.  I have found in the past that it is well worth paying more than one visit to this stand simply because some of the goodies only become visible when what is on top of them has been purchased and removed.  Sooner or later Terry will retire.   You won't know what you've got till it's gone.

 

Chris

 

Terry was supposedly retiring perhaps 18 months - 2 years ago.  Either he's finding it hard, or he has a lot of stocks to clear....

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Not having been for several years (we used to exhibit in the American hall), the quality of the layouts was still excellent. I don't think it would be fair to say which one was more outstanding than another one, as it depended on what you were looking for.

The only downside was a few if what has been referred to as 'tatt' traders. Do they really shift some of the ancient stuff?

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Went this morning after aborting yesterday's visit due to inability to find anywhere to park. Really glad I made the effort and enjoyed the show. Some great layouts on view and also a couple of very helpful and friendly traders and demonstrators. Pleased to see that the 2 minute silence was observed perfectly and even the many children present were quiet and well behaved. (As well as some of their "handlers")  

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I enjoyed the show and spent longer there than I'd planned which is always a good sign. 

Mers les Bains was as enjoyable as ever

 

We have both the elusive C&L finescale, and Roxey selling the difficult to obtain direct Markits range, but the difficulty is most of the finescale trade are cutting back their exhibition attendance - not least because the internet will bring them sales without leaving the house, and we are usually in competition with Hull and Spalding who also want to attract top quality trade.

 

The catering with a Fish & Chip van outside and seating in the old cafe area worked surprisingly well - at least until the van ran out of gas so couldn't fry, then milk so couldn't do tea or coffee either - both were resolved quite quickly as I understand, but I guess it indicates demand was better then they expected, which is probably a good thing.

 

Jon

As in previous years I used the caff round the corner*  for lunch (it's only open on the Saturday) and had a very nice Spanish omelette.

I spent at least an hour more at the show than I'd planned which is always a good sign and there were a number of layouts I really enjoyed. My enthusiasm for French metre gauge railways was well satisfied by Mers-les-Bains which has a lot of very nice touches and details. Light railways were also well represented and I particularly enjoyed Friday Bridge, St. Mary's and Lower Exbury. It was great to see a 00n3 layout and Mannin Middle certainly did justice to this rather underused scale/gauge combination. Canada Street was excellent and seemed  to capture the essence of the rail served ports that I can just remember.  

 

i really liked Newhurst and the buildings are superb but wondered why some of the trains were so short. Even in O scale a three coach Pullman looks a bit  strange but hopefully the carriage builders will see to that over the winter? 

 

I haven't been through my photos yet but will post a few if they're any good.

 

 

*I'd normally reccomend the local caff but was concerned to discover that their current food hygiene rating is 1 "major improvement necessary" (0 is the worst) though that seems to be about a lack of controls and systems rather than their actual hygiene and food handling which were both satisfactory when inspected in March.

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It was our first foray down to see this show and it was most enjoyable and our group admired many lovely layouts. There was a pre-arranged motive for the long haul which was the hand over of Newhurst, which is now in Scotland.

Lots of plans for the future for it, including DCC sound with synchronised chuff n puff along with five or six coach length trains.

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Terry, If you had used the cafe last year, you would not have had to either, because as I recall back then it was still  fully functional, however I have no idea what is available this year, because its being redeveloped.

 

HCMRS don't do toilets or catering, we organise a model railway show. Is TRC the best venue in the world? - no. is it the best venue in the area? well it might be in the top ten only because of lack of competition. Is it the best compromise between facilities we want, need and can afford? - Yes.

 

Jon

Jon, you appear to be missing my point. As you know the café (when functioning)is usually very busy and one would expect those people purchasing food to be given priority with the seating. That leaves the seating outside the toilets for the consumption of packed lunches. Not very pleasant or healthy. Please consider siting some seating elsewhere.

 

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the show. Excellent free bus service, superb layouts and personally I found the traders to be good.

 

Congratulations to all concerned.

 

Terry

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We enjoyed the show (exhibiting Mers les Bains), but wouldn't consider repeating the experience. These problems may well be outside the control of the organisers, but I'll list them for the record:

 

It took us over four hours to drive to Tolworth from Melton Mowbray...that's no ones fault, but if the only way to get to a venue is by the M25 on a Friday afternoon it's not ideal. 

 

The hotel had no parking for vans which is ludicrous; there were four vans trying to fit into a small loading bay as the carpark was in the basement with a height restriction. We were told to park at Tolworth station but refused; that was an open carpark and wasn't secure. On Saturday night we left the van at the show and got soaked walking the mile back to the hotel. The hotel has a restaurant but no proper bar and the nearest pub we could find serving food was over a mile away. After a trying day on Friday and being tired after exhibiting that did not make our day. 

 

Not being able to gain access to set up until 7pm is not acceptable - it may not be the organisers fault but by that time we should be close to being finished for the day and in the pub ideally. We left it, mainly because of the pouring rain, and set up on Saturday morning which in the event was fine. 

 

The only catering being a fish and chip van was very poor - no where to buy as much as a sandwich. We said on the forms that we didn't want lunches because with just the two of us we like to keep operating, but we'd have liked the chance to buy something to keep us going.

 

We left at 6am this morning (without breakfast) to drive back so that at least we could get around the M25 before it all seized up.

 

I'm not blaming the organisers for any of this, it was probably out of their control, but it made the weekend more tiring and stressful than it should have been and were we to be invited back we would have to refuse,

 

Peter 

Edited by kirtleypete
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We enjoyed the show (exhibiting Mers les Bains), but wouldn't consider repeating the experience. These problems may well be outside the control of the organisers, but I'll list them for the record:

 

It took us over four hours to drive to Tolworth from Melton Mowbray...that's no ones fault, but if the only way to get to a venue is by the M25 on a Friday afternoon it's not ideal. 

 

The hotel had no parking for vans which is ludicrous; there were four vans trying to fit into a small loading bay as the carpark was in the basement with a height restriction. We were told to park at Tolworth station but refused; that was an open carpark and wasn't secure. On Saturday night we left the van at the show and got soaked walking the mile back to the hotel. The hotel has a restaurant but no proper bar and the nearest pub we could find serving food was over a mile away. After a trying day on Friday and being tired after exhibiting that did not make our day. 

 

Not being able to gain access to set up until 7pm is not acceptable - it may not be the organisers fault but by that time we should be close to being finished for the day and in the pub ideally. We left it, mainly because of the pouring rain, and set up on Saturday morning which in the event was fine. 

 

The only catering being a fish and chip van was very poor - no where to buy as much as a sandwich. We said on the forms that we didn't want lunches because with just the two of us we like to keep operating, but we'd have liked the chance to buy something to keep us going.

 

We left at 6am this morning (without breakfast) to drive back so that at least we could get around the M25 before it all seized up.

 

I'm not blaming the organisers for any of this, it was probably out of their control, but it made the weekend more tiring and stressful than it should have been and were we to be invited back we would have to refuse,

 

Peter 

 

Peter, I'm sorry you had so much hassle, regrettably much is outside our control, notably geography and weather! As you will know the paperwork asked you not to arrive until after 5pm, because that's when the schools block booking finishes, I don't know when you arrived, but I'm told the first exhibitors started arriving at 2pm - we were never going to be able to accommodate them, and the first hour of our booking would have been much better spent laying out the hall than fielding questions.

 

What we could not have predicted was that the mobile grandstand seating units had not only, not been stored before we arrived, but as far as we could tell nobody on duty at the centre had ever put them away before. Obviously this was disappointing, and made laying out the hall difficult - Your layout was either under the stands where they stood, or very close to them - since I've seen these units demolish a brick wall when they were rolled into it, I doubt you would have welcomed us letting you set up, only to have had the layout turned into matchwood due to carelessness. 

 

To get the range of layouts one of our biggest budgets is accommodation, and regrettably there is little affordable accommodation nearby - we use a lot of it, which drives the price up, I will pass onto the exhibition manager that parking for vans is an additional item to add to the mix.

 

I'd like to think that one of our members if asked would have directed you to a shop around the corner selling sandwiches, and might have volunteered to drive you round to your hotel at the end of the day.

 

It becomes obvious why a number of our neighbouring clubs, despite having bigger memberships, and more layouts out on the circuit, have decided that they cannot contemplate holding their own annual exhibition in the area.

 

Jon

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Jon, the paperwork sent out clearly states set up starts at 7pm. There is no mention of 5pm. Luckily we ventured round at 630pm rather that sit in the hotel so we were unloaded st 645pm before the driving rain appeared. We understand the venues, especially connected to schools can sometimes impose late access constraints.

 

As to the weekend as a whole, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves though tired now. Lots a great layouts and some interesting trade. Lunch was decent and well managed by the club in clearly difficult circumstances. Access to the halls was easy with lots of double doors and level with road / car park. No fighting over a cramped single entrance allowed us to be loaded and away in 35mins Sunday, home and unloaded by 7pm.

 

The hotel was close by and very comfortable, the bar was fine for Friday. We took a bus to Surbiton (£1.50) for Sat night with the Rowntrees Siding team. An Uber returned us later (an advantage of being in London Town) after a very pleasant evening in the Antelope.

 

The 2 mins silence and tribute was well organised and observed.

 

I have and sometimes commute round the M25 (and other major cities with similar problems). It is what it is : a right royal pain in the backside.

 

Our thanks to the club, we’d be happy to return.

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My paper work clearly says setting up from 7pm Jon. 

 

I enquired at the pay desk about obtaining a sandwich and no one mentioned a cafe nearby. 

 

There is a Premier Inn at Epsom 1.7 miles away, another at Chessington 2.8 miles away and two at Twickenham 5 miles away, all with ample surface parking. 

 

I appreciate the difficulties you have in the area, and the M25 is outside your control!

Peter

Edited by kirtleypete
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My paper work clearly says setting up from 7pm Jon. 

 

I enquired at the pay desk about obtaining a sandwich and no one mentioned a cafe nearby. 

 

There is a Premier Inn at Epsom 1.7 miles away, another at Chessington 2.8 miles away and two at Twickenham 5 miles away, all with ample surface parking. 

 

I appreciate the difficulties you have in the area, and the M25 is outside your control!

 

Peter

 

Peter

 

My misunderstanding - I had understood that you had arrived before 7pm and not been able to set up, rather than reading your pack and following the instructions (unlike a lot of your fellow exhibitors). If you had turned up much before 7pm then the aforementioned grandstand seating would have prevented your layout erection anyway - which is why the exhibition manager asks for exhibitors not to arrive earlier (7pm not 5pm - again my mistake). A lot of exhibitors did start arriving earlier (I'm told the first arrived about 2pm! ) but this has the effect of slowing down the marking up process, which delays others. At least this year the school finished on time - one year they still had several games of a girls netball championship to finish before we could get into the halls!

 

The team at the box office should have done better - even if they didn't realise there was facilities in the parade of shops by the A3, they should perhaps of suggested the larger parade at Hook, which would have been a 5-7 minute walk in the same direction.

 

I believe that we already use the Premier Inns at Chessington and Epsom to share the load and therefore keep the price down - as I'm sure you are aware this type of hotel works by demand management, the more bookings there are on a date, the higher the room price. Twickenham may only be 5 miles away, but could easily have taken you 30 minutes to drive to on a Saturday, and conceivably an hour on Friday night!

 

Jon

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Just like to record our thanks to John Noorani for inviting Roundtrees sidings. We enjoyed the weekend and have been suitability enlightened by the delights of the M25 and A3. Never again will I complain about the A1 Newcastle western bypass around the Metro Centre near Xmas.

 

Thanks to the Kirkmellington boys for the lifts and social on Friday and Saturday nights.

 

To give people an idea as to the costs involved with getting just one large layout to the show.

 

Accommodation £322 for 3 nights

Van hire 4 days £160

Fuel (diesel) £132

Parking at Premier inn £18

4 lunches both days. £?

 

So around £600

 

That is without the 4th operator expenses, who this time was my youngest son who has free rail travel.

 

That is without the excess indemnity insurance that enterprise van hire wanted to add on at £30 per day. I managed to buy my own online for £10 per day.

 

I took 4 days leave from work as did 1 other operator and the 3rd too 2 days.

 

The drive home Monday took 7 hours with one 30 minute break. Friday I would like to forget about!! I will be having nightmaresfor years about the M25 on a Friday evening.

 

But for us it was worth it, great layouts and a special thanks to Jon Hall for keeping us cool in the tropics and Bob Blood for telling John to invite us.

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Hi Jon,

Can you advise what the attendance was please? Was it up or down to previous years? I ask as the show came on the weekend after the final of a certain T.V. show.

 

Andy

 

I'm only on the committee I won't get told that level of detail! I suspect much the same as usual, but with the very wet weather on Saturday and Centenary commemorations on Sunday, that might represent a pretty solid performance. Members leafleted the local area quite hard in the weeks before hand and we ran a free child entry with every paying adult on Sunday, which did seem to bring in some fresh blood.

 

Jon

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I went to the show as a normal punter on Sunday; I usually don't bother with lunch as I've seen everything by then and make my way home.  This year was different, the selection of layouts was superb, many of which I had not had the privilege of seeing before; I might add that a similar comment could be made about two other "local" exhibitions this autumn, Fareham and Farnham.  At Tolworth there were less of the "run of the mill" [not meant to be derogatory] 00 and N gauge layouts but an unusual bias towards other gauges.  Congratulations to the organising committee for having such a varied selection of layouts.  As to trade, I have to say I rarely buy more than one or two bits and pieces; it was the same this year.  In all honesty I don't think the trade is the greatest part of the show's portfolio.

 

However staying longer and needing lunch led to my one gripe; the fish and chip van.  I don't think fish and chips is everyone's idea of a lunchtime snack, a burger van would have been so much better.  I queued a while and didn't see anyone buying fish and chips; I had a bacon baguette, which tasted of fish and chips!  If these catering arrangements are going to continue, I'll take sandwiches next time.

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On behalf of the Helensburgh & District MRC I just wanted to extend our thanks to the organisers for inviting us down at the weekend with Trenches. Really enjoyed meeting everyone and it was great to experience a Southern show! We were delighted/honoured to take away the Showtrain Cup, especially with the standard of the other layouts being so high.

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