Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Inspirations 3 Taw Vale

Way back in the 1980s I was still 'modelling' in what would have been termed then, course scale 00. In essence I still do now, it's just that the commercial operations have caught up with the finescale boys. At the time there was a short run of shows at Heathfield in Sussex. These were a bit of a gem: a middle of nowhere church hall type set up which should have been quite lowly; only it wasn't. Looking back I suppose that they were the precursor of the MRJ show in London; packed with finescale and hijacked by people associated with the early MRJ. I managed to get to two of them and if there was ever a turning-point or a lightbulb moment, then this was it. A talk by Barlow and Rice on light railways which literally shook the way I thought about modelling, and to back that up two of my favourite FS layouts.

The above is one of these, The Taw Vale Light by Phillip Hall which featured in MRJ 5 (which I searched out in the back issues piles) a fairly rambling and disorganised article on a rambling EM layout, which for me had about 25% of the track which I was accustomed to seeing in that area of board. A light touch and a softer operation. It changed everything.


  1. Yeah, Heathfield, MRJ (although I didn't get to the show), Iain Rice........all changed the face of the hobby for you, me and a lot of others.
    An earlier influence for me was Martin Brent's original, EM, "Arcadia".....which was the first layout I'd ever seen in a magazine and then at a show (Bexhill, 1980 or '81).
    His later stuff didn't do it for me in the same way, more complicated I suppose.
    Not seen "Taw Vale" but another small but perfectly formed MRJ layout was "Llanstr" which you'll remember was at the Aylesbury show 3 years ago.
    All good stuff......

  2. Of course the centrepiece of htis scene - the man reading, is an Airfix plastic figure. A much under rated range that I suspect most people would ignore nowadays but the early finescalers didn't, partly because there was little choice, mostly because they spotted the quality.

  3. Chris O'Donoghue8 May 2014 at 10:06

    Funnily enough I've got the self-same man, reading his paper, on the platform at Nottery Quay. Such a natural relaxed pose, he really blends in unobtrusively.

  4. There is an interesting photo here showing just what can be achieved with the Airfix/Dapol figures