Without a doubt and probably without exception we are both influenced by, and hanker for, a certain period of our lives, often for lifestyle or political reasons, but more often for artistic reasons. The feelgood factor when life was good and full of promise before secondary education knocked any hope or dreams out of most people. This period usually coincides with the teen years and not surprisingly, I'm no different. These years loosely run from 1973-1982: musically starting with Slade and ending in unlikely fashion with Charlie Parker and Art Blakey... not the most logical of routes it has to be said.
I'd been modelling since about eight, but the railway bit didn't really arrive until a few years later in the mid 1970s. The Modeller was in black and white with small pictures and much more text compression and to my mind contained layouts with far more character than now. Yes, the sheer quality may now be better, and we have since gone full circle with track gauges (does anyone aspire to P4 these days?) but things were more railwaylike: less about photo backdrops and more about representing the running of trains. The plan books were full of track, unlike now where producing plans that have more than two points appears to be a hanging offence. The combination of these factors was quite dizzying to me at the time, and I've reached back more than once; recently with the AoTC which was firmly pinned to 1980s materials.
What about the real roots though? The ones with the black and white photos, the Gem track and the Superquick buildings? Well, they do still exist; I'm thinking particularly of Woking club's Thirdly and (though I only recently became aware of the tie up) Millford which I recently sub-edited for RM and may well be in the December issue. The key factors are 1. card and brick paper, and 2. a railwaylike attitude; a model representation of the mainline and not a two-point photoplank.
Here's the question: would it be possibly to get this atmosphere now, from scratch using these period kits, many of which are still available? I got close with Hopwood (below) but this was almost entirely made from Wills and Ratio products, i.e. post 1980s plastic and suffered from being a little squashed to fit the Peco stand at Warley. Doing it again would be easy enough as would letting it breathe a little space-wise. Could I get the atmosphere right though?
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