11 January 2024
After over 30 years, the Warley Model Railway Club has decided to cancel the 2024 show, and all its future events will no longer be held at the NEC.
A statement from the club:
The Warley National Model Railway Exhibition 2023 was another successful event. Many thousands of happy visitors attended and we have received many positive comments. The quality of the layouts was again high and we were well supported by many traders, societies and displays
The Warley exhibition is different to many other major shows. It is run by a team of volunteers from within the club, some of whom have organised and delivered the show for over 30 years. The members have considered the present market conditions and their ability to deliver, what is a complex undertaking, and have concluded that the time has come to cease holding an exhibition at the NEC for the foreseeable future.
We are in the process of evaluating the present market conditions and the resources available to the club to plan what we can and need to deliver in the future.
Nigel Smith the current Exhibition Manager says:
"This will be disappointing to many people including visitors and exhibitors alike. However, we are an ageing membership and we have to be realistic about what we can deliver in the future. Many of our existing team have been involved for over 30 years and would like to retire gracefully".
Alan Turner, the interim Club Chairman said:
"When our club decided to create the Warley National exhibition it was primarily to create a showcase for our wonderful hobby. I believe we succeeded in doing that. We are amazed that our exhibition has remained the premier exhibition in the country for thirty very successful years. Many of the organising team have been part of that team since the very beginning.
We thank all of those who have supported this exhibition over the years whether as organisers, stewards, exhibitors, traders or just visitors; we couldn't have done it without you. Warley club is in very good health and has plenty of exciting plans for the future."
Steve Flint, former Railway Modeller editor and WMRC member added that although he was disappointed to see the end of the Warley National Model Railway Show at the NEC, he felt it was a carefully considered decision by the members. “The hobby is alive and well at grassroots level, but the commercial boom period of recent decades has probably run its course, having been slowed by the effects of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the ever-increasing age of enthusiasts.”
He said that it would be folly for an organisation like the Warley Model Railway Club - itself a charitable organisation - to continue taking further financial risk in the current climate. “Moreover,” he added, “the tick of the demographic time bomb is getting more prominent, as the next generation of younger enthusiasts required to take over the staffing and running of such prestigious events does not seem to be materialising. Hence, it is time for Warley Model Railway Club to step aside with pride, having had the privilege of promoting this great creative hobby to the nation at the NEC for over thirty years with the full support of hundreds of volunteer enthusiasts, manufacturers and retail traders.”
Are you subscribed to our weekly email newsletter? Don't miss the latest news about our shows, reviews, modelling advice, competitions and more.