Bristol MEX 2015

The Bristol Model Engineering and Hobbies Exhibition is one of those annual shows that I have never managed to visit. As the price of petrol has fallen (a bit) I decided to make the 220 miles round trip at the weekend. I am pleased to say it was a very worthwhile journey. The venue was the Thornbury Leisure Centre just north of Bristol, easy to get to as it is close to the M4/M5 junction and plenty of free parking once you arrive.

The exhibition uses all four of the main sports halls with further exhibits outside. From the free guide I reckon there were about 100 stands split roughly 60/40 clubs and societies to traders, a very good mix. Unlike some model engineering shows there was a wide variety of related hobbies from R/C planes and helicopters through trucks and cars to the more usual model trains and boats. I even saw a stand devoted to quilting and needlecraft complete with sowing machine.

main hall
The main hall

The halls were very spacious and well laid out, there seemed to be plenty of room to move about and even enough space to take photos despite there being plenty of visitors. The main hall had a spectators gallery, where the photo was taken from, which is adjacent to the restaurant so it was quite nice to recover from the journey with a coffee whilst getting an idea of the layout below.

Wheelwrights Stand
Guild of Model Wheelwrights

The Guild of Model Wheelwrights had an extremely interesting and varied stand with many fine examples of their work on display. I was particulary impressed by the selection of farmyard machinery by Brian Young, two of his exhibits below (click on the image for a larger version), together with a fine artillery piece by J. Walford.

It would be impossible to show something from every stand so the photos below are things that particularly cought my eye and where my photographic skills didn′t fail completely. I can get out of focus shots even with a fully automatic camera!

rough pup engine
5″ gauge quarry hunslet – “Rough Pup”

The exhibition is hosted by the Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers and they had an excellent display and workshop stand in Hall 2. One of the items on their stand which caught my attention was a fine model of a Quarry Hunslet Engine built by P. Bayliss (click on the image for a slightly larger view). The original 0-4-0 saddle tank is one of the “Alice” class engines built for use in the Dinorwic Slate Quarries at Llanberis by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds.

As lunchtime approached I sampled the outside catering and had a look round some of the larger exhibits and the working traction engines. A couple of societies and private exhibitors accounted for about 10 traction engines in steam and there were a number on static display at the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society stand in Hall 1.

The J.M Glorie Belgian Street Organ was entertaining the outside diners with a good selection of music and was one of two mechanical organs on display. I think the monkeys are probably deaf by now! Close by on it′s trailer was a fine example of a modern steam yatch “Zara Finn” being exhibited by the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain. Just to demonstrate the variety of exhibits across the way were couple of “hit & miss” engines. The photo is of an Amanco Hired Hand popular both with full size collectors and with model engine builders.

Large Meccano Excavator
Meccano Marion 204M Super Front Shovel

Back inside the South West Meccano Club had an interesting display and the Marion 204M Super Front Shovel by Peter Evans brought back memories of my boyhood Meccano set where the picture on the box was always bigger and better than anything that could be built with the contents. Perhaps I should get a new set? This was quite a big stand with some novel uses of the Meccano construction system, even to include Richard Smith′s very good model of an LMS 4-6-2 loco “City of London” which sadly my photographic skills failed to capture. The club link though takes you to a page with the loco.

The three images above are a couple of my particular interests, that is stationary steam and hot air engines. The first image is from the Stirling Engine Society with more low temperature differential engines than you can shake a stick at. These engines are fascinating and definitely on the list of “must build one day”. Close by was a collection of engines by Anthony Mount, an authority on stationary steam and model builder par excellence. The centre engine is a Garrett & Sons twin compound engine. The two vertical column engines are a Ferrabee Column engine from 1862 which was built this year and at the rear a Benjamin Goodfellow Overcrank Engine 1851. The display could have been set out a bit better as there was plenty of space on the table.

In Hall 3 the South West Truckers had a large display area where you could practice driving an “artic” round the streets of their layout. The model R/C trucks in 1/14 or 1/16 scale were very detailed and immaculately turned out. Also in Hall 3 were the Surface Warship Association who won “best club stand” with their display. Next to the SWA stand was Jack Snary with his Spithead Fleet Review through the ages. This is consists of about 600 ship models all in 1/1200 scale representing some 30 years of modelling, there is so much to see and so much information it would take all day to do it justice.

Fowler Ploughing Engine
Fowler BB1 Ploughing Engine

The final picture was taken on the Stroud Society of Model Engineers stand. This is a fine 2″ scale model of a Fowler BB1 ploughing engine. The name plate on the model is Sarah but the index plate on the front comes back to the real engine which is called “Horsa” needless to say one of a pair the other being Hengist. Both the full size engines are in preservation. This was the last photo I took before setting off home having spent an interesting and pleasant day at the exhibition. If you would like to see more photos I can recomend the Model Engineering website.