Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Astolat model railway exhibition

Bob Vaughan's Gas Lane
Another fairly quick out and back to a show over the weekend, this time to the Astolat do at Guildford. For some reason I came away with a flat feeling. I'd only been once before, and that was at the old venue. This should have been good, but somehow wasn't. The spread of subjects was good, but somehow it seemed unbalanced. Two 7mm NG layouts may have added to that. The one that stood out for me was Bob Vaughn's Gas Lane. Bob works in 00 and 009 and manages to get interesting layouts in a small area without looking cramped. Essentially it's a loop and two and a standard-ish station type plan in sub 4', except there where the platform would be there is a water tower and the line comes in against this. This is clever as it takes traditional thinking , but messes with it slightly with the short loop adding to that. The headshunts take a small loco and two wagons. Unusually my only problem with it was that it could have been higher - something you don't often hear me say.

The catering was dire. Two outlets in the sports venue, and we walked away from both of them as they seemed to find that serving a coffee and a sandwich was a bit too hard for them, or we were not worth the bother. This echoes my thoughts about Woking a couple of months back. These sports venues don't seem to grasp that they have 500+ anoraks coming in that want a light lunch and a tea and the possible profit that that will pull in. It's starting to put me off going to anything that has 'sports' or 'leisure' in the address. I know I'm not going out for fine dining, but  most of us are out over a mealtime so at least a cuppa is required. Contrast that to the Pratts Bottom show last week: village hall packed to the gills, and tea and buns served at a speedy rate by staff of the 'modellers wives' type. Come on this is not hard.


  1. I was at the Astolat show last year, helping operate Richard Glover's "Sand Point"...must admit that I can't remember anything (good or bad) about the catering although obviously the experience of it is probably different as an exhibitor.
    These venues vary, a lot depends on the staff...Fareham was pretty good in that respect, despite being a leisure centre.
    Like you, I was favourably impressed with Pratts Bottom; very busy and with a real "buzz".
    I went to the Canterbury show on Saturday; again, very busy, although I didn't sample the (usually excellent) catering as at the time I wanted a cuppa there was a long queue so I headed to East station, got one there and headed home via Dover Priory, because I can.
    Off to the Erith show at Longfield this weekend...not one I've done before but looks good with about 40 layouts!


    1. On the other hand...I'd forgotten about Southampton...and there are more layouts I want to see there...

  2. The problem these venues face is that catering staff have to be paid whether they sell loads of buns or not. Someone has to gamble that the turnout for a show they don't understand or care about will be big enough to warrant more staff on than normal. That someone will be under pressure to cut costs by people who care nothing for customers, only for cash. If the person doing the rota remembers a busy show the year before, you might get more people, but if they don't then it's the "usual" number. I remember many understaffed events from my FOH days!