John's Jottings

130. Seeing Double - April 2017

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 2:55 PM

At the Whirtleborough show, we heard the Plonkton show manager again talking about his procedure for selecting layouts for his exhibition. He was adamant. “You mustn’t have more than one layout representing the same company or era. There must be a good mix of scales and gauges, and of operating styles at well.”

“I remember visiting one show where one builder was exhibiting two models of the same place. The key difference was that one was set in LMS times while the other in early British Railways. The track plans were the same. The buildings were nearly identical, except for paint colours and some alterations. The pattern of traffic was exactly the same.


Now the two layouts were intentionally staged next to each other. During the Friday set up, the other rigging teams had double-takes as they passed one, and then thought they’d passed the same layout again. One their way back to get their next load of equipment, they would pause, look more closely, and realise that there were indeed a pair of layouts.


“I thought I was in a warp in space-time,” one commented. “Either that or I was seeing double.”


“You were indeed seeing double,” the operators laughed. “But that is because the two models are separated by two feet laterally and fifty years in time.” Other riggers were intrigued at both the concept and its implementation.


“Building two layouts the same: that’s boring,” was Peter’s blunt assessment. “Chap must have absolutely no imagination. I’d never do anything that stupid.”


Of course, Peter wouldn’t ever do anything that stupid. In fact, he doesn’t do anything at all - period - except try to sound as if he were an elite modeller of railways. But after all the years he’s been a member of our club, we’re used to him adopting that stance.


During the exhibition, it was surprising how many member of the public went from one layout to the other, commenting on both without realising that they were of the same location and had the same station name. One or other team of operators would point it out to them.


But then the fun began, especially for the children. Visitors shuttled backwards and forwards, looking for similarities and differences. Small trees on one were tall trees on the other. Tall trees on the early scene had disappeared on the later one, though one was still lying where it had recently fallen. They spotted that the chapel was painted a different colour. There was a funeral rather than a wedding. Shops had changed hands. Businesses had moved, expanded, or disappeared. Motor vehicles had taken the place of horse-drawn carts. Even the clothes worn by the little inhabitants were different.


The more discerning visitors saw that ancient 0-6-0Ts had been replaced by more modern 2-6-2Ts, short 6-wheel wooden-bodied coaches had given way to bogie coaches made of steel, and the march of progress from milk traffic being in churns carried in slatted 4-wheel vans, to transport in insulated 6-wheel tankers.


“Does this suggest that the general public is not all that concerned about duplication of scales, locations and periods?” our chairman asked. “If that is the case, then perhaps the Plonkton selection procedure may not necessarily be the only one that produces successful exhibitions?” And we had to agree, he’d got a point. It was proposed that our committee should bear this in mind when making their selection for our shows and be willing to consider inviting layouts that were similar to each other.


Categories: None