01 October 2019
Considering buying a ticket to a model railway exhibition and not sure if it's for you? We give you our top five reasons why attending a show is a must-have for any model railway fan.
There's nothing the BRM team love to do more at a weekend than visit a model railway exhibition. With over 500 to choose from every year, there's bound to be one near you, so here's 5 reasons you should pop along:
1: Watch the trains go by
Whether you like big layouts with express passenger services racing by, or bucolic branchline byways with short train ambling through the countryside, we all like to see trains moving and any model railway exhibition will serve up plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Exhibition managers will do their best to lay on a mix of different scale, gauges and eras for our entertainment so there will be something for everyone.
Take your time with each layout and try to watch a variety of trains. There's no rush, you can stay all day!
2: Ask questions
If you spot a feature on a layout that interests you, ask one of the operators about it. They will normally be really pleased to explain, after all, they really enjoy showing off their model and it's flattering when a visitor shows a special interest in part of it.
Ask about the prototype and you may find a folder of information appears from under the model. It's a great way to learn a bit, or discover something new.
If you are having problems with your model and see that someone has solved them, ask how they did it. Railway modellers love to pass on their skills and knowledge, it's a really fun part of the hobby. Don't feel that your question is too basic or silly, we all have to start somewhere and if you don't ask, you don't learn.
3: Find inspiration
Most of us carry a camera, probably on our mobile phone. Use it to snap details on layouts that might look good on yours. Most of the team have photo collections that contain great ideas for future projects.
Sometimes you'll spot a layout that is very different from your normal interests but just has something about it that unexpectedly appeals to you. Railway modelling offers so many possibilities that you might surprise yourself. You could arrive keen on seeing Pendolios blast through the countryside but find that's a model of a narrow-gauge railway in remote Wales that grabs your attention.
4: Meet the trade
So many of the smaller manufacturers in our hobby are one-man-bands who produce all sorts of supplies we use on our layouts. When not working hard producing stock, they head out to shows to sell it, and just as importantly, meet their customers.
Even the major manufacturers such and Hornby, Bachmann, Dapol and Hattons can be found at larger events. They are keen to show off their latest products and talk to the modellers who buy them. It's valuable customer research and your chance to ask questions and even influence future production.
No-one goes into model railways expecting to make a fortune, they all arrive because they care about our hobby. Quite a few will be building layouts at home in their spare time, so a weekend working and talking about trains is great fun.
5: Chat to other modellers
When you are leaning on the barrier watching a layout, talk to those doing standing beside you. We're all enthusiasts so it's a great way to meet people and make new friends. For many of us, visiting an exhibition is as much a social event as anything else, catching up with old mates we haven't seen, since the last show!
If you haven't needed to the show, you'll normally find that it's been organised by the local model railway club and they will have a stand showing off their own work and hoping to sign up a few more members. Take a look - it's great to find a place you can go and talk trains with like-minded people. Take advantage of the help and support that is available, and the chance to help others as well. You'll be surprised at the variety of people you find who love our hobby, even if they don't shout about it every day.
Bonus reason: Tea and cake
The BRM team love cake nearly as much as we love trains and so no visit to a show is complete without stopping off to enjoy a brew and something to eat.
Most smaller shows see the members roping in their families to help feed the visitors and many times this sees some impressive home baking on offer, which it would be rude not to sample. Sat around the tea table, it's another good chance to meet other enthusiasts, perhaps consider a few purchases, or work out which layouts you need to take another look at.
Make sure you check out our BRM Shows, including the National Festival of Railway Modelling at Peterborough in December. With over 30 layouts and over 100 clubs, societies and traders in attendance, it's a show not to be missed. More information and to book here.