After 18 months away from Missenden Abbey the Railway Modellers were back for the Autumn 2021 weekend. A degree of normality started to return with the first of our residential weekends since before the pandemic started. This weekend saw our traditional Autumn courses run alongside a new offering, improving ready to run and kit stock with Karl Crowther.
The venue is the same, the quality of the modelling and tutoring is the same, the only differences were a reduction in numbers, allowing for greater spacing between the modellers and some basic protection in the form of pre-course testing, use of masks when moving around the building and extra cleaning.
The format of the weekend was similar to previous Missenden weekends, with separate rooms for each of the subject, we did not have the usual all attendees meetings at the beginning and end of the weekend in an effort to reduce the mixing of people in a confined space. We did run a number of demonstration sessions, as is usual, however these were reduced in size and repeated, again as a Covid-19 precaution in an aim to reduce the mixing of groups.
We had two rooms of locomotive kit building; a 4mm scale and below with Tony Gee and Jerry Clifford taking on the tutoring roles. The larger scales being catered for under the supervision of Kevin Wilson. As usual these rooms operated as supervised modelling sessions, with the attendees working on their own modelling projects; the tutors being on hand to answer questions and give practical help as and when it was required. As always the tutors are supplemented by the peer help and advice from the other attendees, many of whom are returning after attending in previous years.
Pete Brownlow ran the DCC room this year, bringing along Missenden St Mary, a DCC layout that was used to both illustrate DCC techniques and to allow the running of stock that the attendees had converted to DCC on the course. There was even a certain blue tank engine in evidence during the weekend. Missenden St. Mary was also used by Pete to give demonstration of DCC systems to any of the attendees from other rooms interested in DCC subjects.
Weathering was catered for with two tutors new to the role, Andrew Thompson and Chris Hopper. The format of this course was however little changed from the way it was run under Mick Bonwick, with attendees weathering their own projects with help and demonstrations from the tutors, each of whom brings their own methods to the art of weathering. A number of nicely weathered items of rolling stock were seen to be leaving the building on the Sunday in the procession of the modellers attending.
Norman Solomon, that well known master of track and layout building, ran the track building room, which this year uniquely was completely made up of first time Missenden attendees. In this case the projects undertaken by each of them was the building of points using C&L Finescale components. It was encouraging to see them all having made great progress in the weekend and having almost complete pointwork to take home with them by the Sunday afternoon. During the weekend Norman also gave a demonstration of his track laying method in which he lays the track and ballasts it in one single action.
In the improving ready to run and kits room the attendees also worked on projects they had bought along to Missenden with them. In the case of all the attendees at this weekend they choose to work on improving wagon kits, with Karl Crowther on hand to discuss any issues and offer advice on the choice of methods and materials to make the various wagons look better or run better. In the case of one attendee the aim of the weekend was to adapt a commonly available wagon it into a unique vehicle for which no kit is available.
Karl also ran a number of demonstration sessions on the subject of Alex Jackson couplings. As well as show how the coupling works, with the aid of some very over scale examples, he demonstrated the method of production, including the various jigs for making them, before discussing the merits and pitfalls of AJ couplings.
Outside of the modelling rooms the bar was available, serving real ale and various tea and coffee facilities around the site. We were well catered for in the dining room, with excellent dinners on the Friday and Saturday night, a light lunch on the Saturday, full breakfast on both the Saturday and Sunday and roast turkey Sunday lunch to cap off the weekend.
The weekend embodied all that is traditional and well loved about the Missenden weekends, the acquiring and practical application of modelling skills, the company of like minded individuals, good food, good beer and good conversation. The weekends continue to focus on the ability of the modellers to get what they want from the courses and take home with them the practical results of what they learn.
Now that the milestone of the first post-covid weekend is over the team will move into planning the Spring 2022 weekend that will take place over the weekend of the 4th to 6th of March. Much of the course content is already decided, however there are still a few courses that need to be finalised and tutors arranged for them. As and when the details are available the website will be updated. Once a complete programme is available we will send a newsletter to those that have signed up to receive it, if you are not already subscribed to receive the newsletter you can do so from the website. It is planned that all the course details will be available by mid-November and that booking for the Spring weekend will then be opened in plenty of time to book a place as a Christmas present.
If you have particular subjects you would like to see us cover, or some of our courses that run irregularly then why not contact us and let us know what you would like to see. We can’t promise we can include it in the Spring 2022 programme, but it will help us plan future course content.