23 September 2022
Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre is to conclude its first full year of operations with a celebratory event marking the 180th Anniversary of the South Eastern Railway arriving in the town in 1842.
To be held over the weekend of the November 19/20 in Ashford, in venues linking the town centre with the home of the Railway Works in Newtown, Ashford180 is expected to feature a range of exhibitions, displays and activities with a strong link to local railway history.
Two model railway exhibitions will feature new layouts alongside well-known favourites. A month-long photographic exhibition at the Gateway will showcase the work of local photographers in capturing Ashford’s railway history alongside a selection of images from the Rail Camera Club 'Rail Cameramen' Exhibition first exhibited at NRM Shildon in 2018.
A highlight will be the return to Ashford of two models built by apprentices at the Railway Works – a 7 ¼in gauge Bulleid Pacific Fighter Pilot made for Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951, and the last ever locomotive built in the Works, a 5in gauge 0-4-0 suitably named Ashford in SECR livery. These will be on display at Ashford College, alongside other large-scale models of Ashford-built locomotives, heritage organisation and society stands and rare screenings of local film-maker Sonny Hanson’s film of the Railway Works from 1947.
AIMREC and Ashford Model Railway Club joined together to promote Ashford180 at the Weald of Kent Steam Rally in August. The KESR's No. 12 'Marcia' is behind.
The Bachmann Collectors’ Club stand is expected to be present at the event, too. For those seeking refreshments, the Coachworks will organise a beer festival over the two days with visiting railway-themed guest ales and music on Saturday evening.
Main highlights of the weekend will be:
- Ashford Museum – Open Days, displays of local railway history and related exhibits
- Ashford Gateway – Photographic Exhibition from November 1-30, featuring exhibits by the Railway Photographic Society from the NRM Shildon 'Rail Cameramen' Exhibition alongside Railway Scenes of Ashford from the 1940s to the present day captured by local photographers. Screening of short films featuring Ashford’s Hidden Railway Treasures by local film maker Jasper Bouverie
- The Elwick Club – Two floors of model railways curated and mostly built by AIMREC's volunteer team including first time layouts built by its group of younger modellers, new layouts celebrating the classic years of Tri-ang and Hornby Dublo and a recreation of Lenham Station. Special guests are bringing layouts to inspire and entertain, including the classic narrow gauge 'Dovey Valley' by Dick Wyatt enjoying only its second outing in eight years, a charming Emett themed railway by Chris O'Donoghue and for the first time at exhibition together, a collection of scratch- built layouts by Nik Wilson, featuring the unique China Station waterfront tramway.
- Ashford College – Heritage railway and preservation society stands, Bachmann Collector’s Club, model railways, model engineering and displays over two floors including Mike Turner GRA premiering his commissioned Ashford180 artwork, Bob Pryor's large-scale models of famous locomotives, Ashford film-maker Sonny Hanson's record of a visit to the Railway Works in 1947 (courtesy of Screen Archive South East) and the Railway Works Apprentice models of Bullied Pacific Fighter Pilot (1951) (Courtesy of Norman Hamshere) and Ashford (1980) (Courtesy of RHDR).
Entry is priced at £10 for adults and over 14s, with wristbands available at venues and valid for both days. For the complete list of attendees, visit the AIMREC website.