The Club's Silver Jubilee

The exhibition in March 2013 marked the club's Silver Jubilee

Two weeks prior to the exhibition club members were invited to attend a Jubilee Party to mark the event. In the presence of the Deputy Mayor a commemorative plaque was unveiled by Cllr Alan Kerr the Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council. This event was reported in the local newspaper, 'The Shield's Gazette'. Two photographs from the newspaper article appear below.



Councillor's Faye Cunningham and Ray Meeks at the presentation

Councillor's Faye Cunningham and Ray Meeks with John Forster viewing his layout "Rue de Tinques'

At the Jubilee exhibition the club interviewed a trader and an exhibitor to get their perspective on attending an exhibition. A few years on we still think their views are relevant. Here are the two interviews


The Traders view.  Mick from Durham Trains of Stanley

How did you start in Model Railways?

I got my first train set when I was 4 and started to make models when I was 7 or 8. I used my first airbrush at 12 and from there on the rest is history! Then I’ve

just tried to get better at it.


I understand you didn’t always have a model shop. How did you get into the retail side?


I used to managed an electrical store – Rumbellows back in the 80’s and 90’s which gave me management skills and then went on to work for EMA Model Supplies working for them for 5 years giving me the buzz and knowhow of how to run a model shop. I always wanted to run a model shop. As it needed money I went lorry driving for 15 years and that gave me the capital to do what I do now which I’ve had for the last 5 years. It’s been hard work but very rewarding and we have a good customer base. There aren’t many people who can work with their hobby and enjoy work at the same time! But like any job it has its moments – but I wouldn’t change it for the world.


What’s it like being invited to an Exhibition – loading the van etc.?


It’s hard work and can be tedious as well. Planning well in advance is the key; we bear in mind the size of the show, attendance, what we are going to take and how

much space we have what kind of transport we need. The bigger the Exhibition

the more stuff we need to take. With our new stand we now tend to use the van.

It’s not difficult once we’ve set up we just stand there and sell and hope it’s

worth our while!


When people come to the stand and ask for something odd and bizarre that you haven’t got – what happens then?


We show as much enthusiasm as possible and if we haven’t got it we see if we can help and try to keep the customer happy. This seems to work.


What’s it like having a professional weatherer and DCC man on board?


Yeh – very good! I employed Simon 12 months ago. I certainly needed someone to come on board as I was working 24/7. I was doing more hours than lorry driving and not seeing the wife and kid! He was the best person for the job and he snapped my hand off! He’s a good asset to the company and has great ideas some of which will be implemented in the foreseeable future.


The Exhibitor's view.  Donald Annison

What’s involved?


A lot of hard work, which gets harder as the years go by!


How do you prepare ?


This includes: repairing any damage, cleaning wheels, lubricating axles/gear-boxes

and testing; cleaning/renewing the wheel and track cleaners; checking all the

ancillary and electrical equipment; loading the van (now how does it all fit

in?); double-checking everything against the check-list as it goes in the van.


Any particular issues with travelling to an exhibition ?


you  often long journey, probably in winter weather on a Friday afternoon and then have to find a remote leisure-centre on the outskirts of a big city, all the time wondering what you’ve forgotten.


Setting up must give you a few headaches !


Assuming you’ve found the venue without too many wrong turns and too much bad language, you now have to unload the van and get set up. Most exhibitions are now in leisure centres or school gyms with ground-level access through wide fire-doors, so hopefully no more stairs and narrow corridors! All you have to do now is assemble the layout, connect the wiring, clean the track, check it

all works, fix the lights, place all the demountable buildings, vehicles,

figures, animals, cranes, trees and other details, and put up the name boards,

information boards, maps and photographs. At some point you will probably

collapse in a heap to have asandwich and a cup of tea when you run out of

energy. If any gremlins have got into the electrics or point-rodding you may be

there burning your fingers on a hot soldering iron until the exhibition manager

throws you out. Then you have to find the hotel/B&B in the dark, along

unfamiliar roads with the aid a sketch map of variable quality (and with luck

spot a good pub on the way).


Any comments on the exhibition and the visitors ?


Up bright(?) and early on Saturday morning for a full-English and drive back to

the venue by 9 am at the latest for last minute tweaks and setting out all the

rolling stock in the right positions to start operating. You may find you are

being watched while doing this if there were long queues outside and the doors

are opened early. You then have to face the public in all their vast array of

shapes, sizes, ages and personalities. Hopefully you will receive or overhear

lots of complimentary remarks and not too many criticisms. However you will

also have to answer lots of questions while operating trains in a reasonably

prototypical manner , it is always sensible and safer to have a spare operator to

answer the questions or take over operating while you do. With our big layout

which is over 20 years old, it can be difficult to remember all the details of

how we made this, and what make that kit is. It’s useful to have a file of

reference material and a list of all the obscure kits that we used. And this is

what makes it all worthwhile: listening to comments from genuinely interested

children, mums and grandmas who are delighted with the scenery and set-piece

groups of people and animals, answering questions from modellers who want to do

something similar, and best of all chats with people who live or grew up in the

area the layout is based on and hearing reminiscences from retired railwaymen

who remember driving or firing a particular engine. We remember these people

and try to forget the nit-pickers and rivet-counters!