The Model Engineer Exhibition moved to Brooklands Museum in Surrey this year after a short break. Set inside part of the old Brooklands motor racing circuit, the Museum celebrates the motor racing and aviation history of the area. Brooklands Circuit was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, built by local landowner Hugh Locke King in 1906. The circuit is 2¾ miles long with steeply banked curves and an extra ½ mile start / finish straight in front of the clubhouse. Much of the original concrete circuit remains but you wouldn′t want to race on it now, the surface is very rough and I doubt it was exactly smooth when it was new. (Click On An Image For A Larger View)
With both the museum exhibits and the exhibition there was plenty to see. The competition and loan models together with the club stands were based in the museum whilst the trade stands were in a large marquee. On-site catering was good and there was plenty of seating both in the restaurant and close to the models. There was also plenty of outside seating available once it stopped raining and dried out.
The traders area was well supported but some of the “usual” suppliers were noticeable by their absence. A view inside the marquee (2) showing Chester Tools stand, quite a bit smaller display than I have seen before. With the increase in on-line sales and increasing costs of attending a show I think this will become the norm for future exhibitions. I had a quick look round but my wallet stayed resolutely in my pocket. Off to the model displays which were based in and around the clubhouse (3), built around 1907 it houses the members billiards room, the clerk of the course office, and you could find similar buildings on most horse racing courses of the period.
I recently spent an interesting few hours visiting the Magyar Vasúttörténeti Park. This is a large open air railway museum in Budapest, a bit away from the usual tourist hotspots but still quite easy to reach with a short walk from bus or tram stop. There is a direct railway link at weekends running from Nyugati Station. Opened in 2000 the museum covers some 7 hectares (17 acres) on the site of the former MÁV (Hungarian State Railways) Budapest North Depot. There are more than 50 locomotives in various states of preservation along with a huge selection of rolling stock. Some of the exhibits run at weekends and holidays and you can even get to drive one although I think you have to book in advance for this. Not everything is open every day and a weekend visit seems to be the best choice but it is popular locally and quite busy.
The locomotives are without doubt the main attraction and for any European Railway Enthusiast a day will likely not be enough time! First up is MÁV 1026 (pictured above) a class 341 (341,012) freight locomotive build by Wöhlert Berlin in 1882, the information given for the loco shows the wheel arrangement as C-n2. This had me a bit confused until a quick web search revealed that this is the European UIC class and apparently means it is an 0-6-0, 2 cylinder loco using saturated steam. 1026 spent a good deal of it’s working life (1959 to 1985) in a sugar factory in Sárvár. Like many locomotives the number and class has changed several times through it’s lifetime.
Spent Sunday afternoon at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre just outside Aylesbury. The centre covers about 25 acres and has something for everyone. Part of the site is used by the Vale of Aylesbury Model Engineering Society (VAMES) who have several permanent layouts in different scales from garden railways 32mm up to 7¼”. There is plenty of free parking at the site and a very good refreshments area serving snacks and hot meals. There is of course a gift shop ready to lighten your wallet for the usual selection of must have memorabilia.
There are several “special event” weekends throughout the year and this weekend there was a model traction engine rally organised I think by VAMES. There were quite a few engines about steaming merrily from the main car park along the road to the model railway area about ½ mile. Unfortunately the weather was less than kind and there were very few visitors about to take rides and a few exhibitors dropped the fire and packed up early. Apparently Saturday was much better both weather and visitor wise. Still there were some fine examples on display.
Neatly parked for a photo opportunity three 4″ scale models. Two Foster′s “Lilian” and “Lesley” and a Ruston & Proctor steam tractor. The Ruston looks to be a different scale but the original was only some 12′ long, probably one of the smallest traction engines made.
Providing nostalgic rides for the day were the 2-4-0 Beyer Peacock well tank No.30585 “Beattie” and the 0-4-0 Andrew Barclay saddle tank No.699 “Swanscombe”. It is possible that I have misidentified 30585 as it seems to have been regularly moved about, refitted, renumbered and re-liveried over the years.
Seeking refuge from the wind and squally showers, the main visitor centre building is light and airy and houses a large display area set up like a couple of platforms, the very pleasant restaurant with plenty of seating, the gift shop, toilets and play areas for the the kids. I assume this building was once an engine shed as one of the current displays is a full size loco and tender a GWR castle class engine No.5080 “Defiant” (ex Ogmore Castle). There is a traverser at the rear of the building which explains how the engine and carriage displays can be brought in and out.
Back outside the VAMES area was fairly quiet but still a couple of engines running and the Foden steam wagon had made it’s way there from the car park. The ground level tracks make their way past a pleasant wooded area set out with picnic tables but no one was brave enough to try outdoor dining today.
There are plenty of static displays outside, London Underground District Line stock, South African Railways 3′ guage loco. The 6989 Wightwick Hall Restoration Group are based here and depending on what they are doing at the time you can view their progress on the loco. Also based at the centre are the 7200 Trust restoring one of GWR′s 2-8-0 heavy freight tank locomotives.
The centre also has a museum in the “Buffer Depot” with many interesting displays of rolling stock, equipment and small artifacts. A full size W.H. Smith bookstall set up as it was on the platform at Chalfont and Latimer Station. Just outside the museum are a number of remaining “Romney” huts which were built on site by the Ministry of Food around 1941 as food stores, one of a number of such stores just outside London.
A good day out despite the weather, well worth a visit if you have an interest in railway history and preservation or just like train rides.
Should you happen to be in Budapest with a few hours to spare then it is worth taking a look at the Közlekedési Múzeum Budapest Transport Museum. Set at one corner of City Park it has some interesting exhibits ranging from full size locomotives to model ships.
One of the museum attendants was explaining the portable engine to me and I mentioned it was made in England, “Ah!” he said, “But the horse is Hungarian.”
Some of the larger exhibits including a rather good paddle steamer engine complete with paddles are set in the grounds where there is a small cafe should you be in need of refreshment.
There are many large scale locomotive models in cases which are great to look at but difficult to photograph. There is however no restriction on photography. There are a few working model railway layouts and plenty of interesting railway related items. Most of the information labels are in Hungarian with a few english translations here and there.
I visited the Kempton Steam Museum yesterday and was mightily impressed by this engine. One of two engines built in 1928 to pump drinking water to London. The engines are some 62 feet (18.9 m) high and weigh in at 1000 tons apiece. One engine would pump 19 million gallons (86,375,710 litres) a day to the households of London.
The engines finally stopped pumping in 1980 and sat unused for many years until the Kempton Great Engines Trust was formed in 1995 to create the museum and preserve the engines. The No.6 engine has been fully restored and runs regularly under steam. Its partner (No.7) does not run but you can get a guided tour from top to bottom (not good if you have problems with heights). The picture is taken from the top gallery of the the No.7 engine.
The engines are run once a month so check on the website for running days. Kempton Steam Museum. The museum is well worth a visit and the Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society is busily restoring the narrow guage Hanworth Loop and this can be visited on steaming days. Hampton Kempton Railway. There is plenty of onsite parking and refreshments are available on steaming days.