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What people have said:

‘The best thing about Missenden isn't just the help from the tutors, but the little titbits you pick up from those working beside you.’

‘Great fun, great company and a relaxing environment. What more could you need?’

' . . .everyone was so friendly - always willing to stop and help/advise when I got stuck.'

All courses offer unparalleled opportunities to see other modellers at work, to ask questions, share expertise, to learn and develop skills.

Discover what tools other modellers find useful, but above all, savour the opportunity for uninterrupted indulgence in your hobby.

Time and space to enjoy your hobby and work at your own pace. Relaxed, informal course structures give you every incentive to make good progress and create a model you can be proud of.

The weekend courses in March and October begin on Friday evening when you book in between 5.00 and 6.00pm.  As soon as rooms are available, you can set up your modelling equipment and meet your tutor.

Dinner is at 6.45 after which there is a short introduction by the Abbey Director.  A general meeting of participants to deal with organizational and safety matters follows after which you go to your room with your tutor to start modelling. Tutors advise and help you develop your modelling skills so draw on expertise throughout the weekend.

Most people have stopped modelling by 10.00pm, adjourning to the bar or bed.

Missenden Abbey bar


Breakfast is served from 7.45 and you can get down to work as soon as the tutor unlocks your room.  To safeguard valuable equipment, rooms are always locked when left at meal times and overnight.

Coffee is at 10.45, lunch at 12.45, tea at 3.45 and dinner at 6.45.  Demonstrations are timetabled during each day but all remaining time is available for modelling. If you want a walk, nap or look in on what the other groups are up to, you are free to do so.  Again, most people return to modelling for some of the time between dinner and bed.

Sunday follows the same pattern although packing up has to be done by 3.00pm.  Tea is available before gathering for a debrief and leaving for home by about 4.00.

The Summer Retreat is a unique opportunity to model uninterrupted for a week. You book in from 5.00 pm then get in to your work room to set out your stall before the evening meal and an evening getting in to modelling mode (which could be in the bar if you prefer).

The rest of the week follows a similar timetable to the weekend courses with regular modelling sessions periodically interrupted for refuelling. Tutors are there to answer your queries and help you resolve any problems you have.

Even the keenest modeller needs some respite and the midweek ‘works outing’ has become an integral and hugely pleasurable feature of the Summer Retreat.  We have enjoyed an exclusive 'behind the scenes' visit to Pendon Museum, visited the Wycombe MRC, spent time at Quainton Road and Bucks Hill. What might the next outing be?

The Retreat concludes on Friday afternoon at 3.00pm.  Returning to the outside world is a bit of a shock, so be warned!


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Some Missenden statistics:

• the number of modellers attending has grown fourfold since 2001

• students have come from all parts of Britain as well as Australia, USA, Hong Kong and Europe

• Missenden Abbey is a 12th century structure imaginatively converted into a dedicated adult learning/conference facility. It is now administered by Buckinghamshire New University.

• the most popular courses are those on loco construction and trackbuilding, closely followed by scenics

• 7mm and 4mm predominate but all scales and gauges have their adherents within groups

• models built at Missenden range from complete finescale layouts to a three-rail Metropolitan electric loco for a Hornby-Dublo system; in 2011 a live-steam loco made an appearance

• no fewer than eight Missenden tutors – Chris Langdon, Barry Norman, Iain Rice, Norman Solomon, Ian Rathbone, Tim Shackleton, Howard Watkins and Tony Wright – have made DVDs for Activity Media's 'Right Track' series

• Bob Alderman has built a real live 12in:ft steam locomotive (A1 Pacific Tornado)