The Weird World of Warley


While Warley was a show full of realistic and amazing models, there was also plenty of odd-ball stuff to see. We sent Phil Parker to seek out the more unusual items on show.

5: Camelback locomotives

A really wide firebox might be desirable for a steam locomotive if you intend to burn cheap anthracite, but it's a bit tricky if your drivers can't see around it.

The solution was to mount the cab on top of the boiler, allowing the driver excellent vision and leaving the fireman at the back. While this placed the heavy firebox over the driving wheels (good) it put the driver over the top of the rods which were prone to break and come up into the cab (bad) as well as leaving the fireman largely exposed to the elements (also bad).

Safety concerns saw the construction of these locomotives banned in 1927.

This model is seen on the HO scale Mauch Chunk PA, built by the Barrowmore MRG.

4: Steampunk Locomotive

If Laurie Calvert, and his layout Cato Pass, didn't feature in a list of weird exhibits, then he'd be very disappointed.

Blending traditional kit-bashing skills with an enthusiasm for both science fiction and steampunk, he has created an amazing multi-level scene that always attracts a crowd.

Always popular with youngsters, the war-like scene, complete with futuristic armies, rockets, and dinosaurs is like nothing you'll ever see at a model railway exhibition. Or is it? Will there be a rush of layouts inspired by Laurie's work here and on the first series of the Great Model Railway Challenge?

3: Railboat

Sticking with the GMRC, this model was spotted on the layout build by the "Who's Counting Rivets" team.

Purists will say it's inspired by Spooners Boat, the famous wind-powered inspection saloon found on the Ffestiniog Railway. I think it's more likely to have been based on the character Skiff from the Thomas the Tank TV series.

2: Crochet Forest

Another GMRC model, this time "The Loco Ladies" forest made of crochet trees from the first episode of series 2.

Team captain Carol tells me that she could only produce two trees an evening, meaning the entire forest was several weeks work. There isn't a pattern either, so others couldn't pitch in and help.

Personally, I love the forest, but judge Kathy Millatt didn't. I mentioned this when she dropped into the BRM stand and she's adamant that she's right. I guess that's why I'm not judging model railways on TV, then.

Never mind, the trees were sold off in aid of the Breast Cancer Charity the team support raising over £300. I'm promised that one of my colleagues has secured one for me!

You can see an interview with the Loco Ladies in our Warley video.

1: 009 Rocket Ship

If there was one model in the hall I wanted to buy, it was this one.

On the Kato stand, there were around 20 of these wonderful HO scale models built to run on N gauge track. Some were green, some red and one clear.

And they weren't for sale! I begged the company Vice President, but he wasn't budging. It seems that these are hand-made models to be used as corporate gifts, and it seems I don't qualify.

Never mind, I'll just have to go back to trying to persuade Hornby to re-introduce its propeller-powered version.