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Model Railway Express


This is a Collection of the contents of letters to MRE magazine in response to a letter to what Every layout should have... serious or light hearted... It could be things we noticed or perhaps do not notice . The letters are in no particular order apart from receipt and are edited down to the points being made... and maybe you can say "I could do that" or " I should include that"...   enjoy...

You might also like to check out Hints and Tips in order and by category and Interesting Websites!

Please send your suggestions for this segment to pat@mremag.com for inclusion to Model Railway Express

October 6th 2008  -   Trevor Gibbs

1. A Sainsbury's, "Marks and Sparks" or a Tesco type store. They are not railway related strictly speaking but something that visitors to your layout could relate to.

2. A level crossing or pedestrian crossing where we all interact with trains at sometime or other.

3. A couple of simple signals that move or change to give the visitor the impression that they are not decorative and do have a function

4. A link to the past - I'm sure there are many examples but one that does come to mind is a building in the Plymouth Barbican area where you can still see an L&SWR marking faintly on the side.

5. Some degree of interactivity that our visitors can participate in... perhaps readers could write to define what they do that others could follow.

6. Crews and passengers on trains - the numbers of people on trains and stations can often define the area the railway serves. A steam line with 1 or 2 passengers on the train and nobody waiting on the platform could define pre Beeching for example ... and finally:

7 An Aircraft Hangar and an unlimited budget to build a layout in and with!

October 8th - Richard Slipper

1. A tramp

2. A Morris Minor

3. A road direction sign

4. A post-box

5. A bicycle

6. An Oak tree

7. Weeds, i.e. the natural flora of the area

8. A ghost train (i.e. the fleeting impression of locos and stock of yesteryear)

9. Electrofrog points

10. For exhibitions – fascias, curtains and lighting

And, of course, what a good layout should avoid:

1. A wedding scene (which church is complete without one?)

2. An RTA, bent lamppost, copper etc.

3. A hole in the road

4. Too many cars

5. Too many Matchbox cars

6. Traffic jams

7. Too many people in action poses.

8. Too many animals

9. 'Lollypop' and bottle brush trees

10. Insulfrog points

Stephen Russell Clark

...White Transit vans (at least a dozen for every metre of model road) and black Audis (all travelling at least 10mph above the speed limit).

Stuart Reid

... A range of rail enthusiast figures which could be attached to the drop-light windows of coaching stock in order to replicate the clusters of bodies invariably seen hanging out of them on the preserved railways run by some modellers

October 10th -  Brian Macdermott

...Telegraph poles, speed restriction signs and mileposts.

Ken Darville

What a layout shouldn't have……..

Motor vehicles without people in them, buses ditto, shops ditto.

There are layout which are excellent until it gets to road vehicles…all empty! Just check the model magazines.

As for Matchbox cars, the old Vauxhall (22a) is 1/78 scale and, suitably repainted, fitted with windows and driver/passenger, looks as good as some models on the market today. There are a number of others too that would not be out of place - but check the scale. 

Paul Burke

...Drunken scallies, suicidal bankers, badly dressed people 

October 13  - Ken Adams

Many of the newer vehicles are difficult to open and put a driver inside. On the other hand, on most layouts, it would be better to have the vehicles located as parked rather than in traffic. Less competition for our beloved little railways.

October 15  -  I cannot believe that there were not ideas out there to be published for today... come on everyone!!!!

October 17   -  Trevor Gibbs

1. A scenic corner of some kind with a small group of figures posing as photographers wearing Anoraks lineside

2. Narrow roads and Hedges

3. Some sign of recent rainfall (?)

4  A canal and canal boat area

October 27 - Trevor Gibbs

Again based on observations,

1.   A patrolling policeman (Bobby)

2.   London type Taxi Cab or mini cab ( there has been some debate as to how obvious or frequent that these cabs are outside of the London area

3    A ridiculously narrow ( by my standards) Street ala Parliament St in Exeter.

4.   As many signals as humanly possible of every shape and size to confuse your drivers in any given junction(?)

5    A road with speed traps

6    A Roadside Chef for "modern layouts"... (which perhaps you can corrupt on your own version of the name ending in "ef" when you do your own signs?)

November 5 - Robert Inns

I  think one of the aspects of British life that has not been mentioned so far is that of gardening. Today's gardens are often smaller due to extensions, selling  off part of the garden, patios or making car parking spaces. The fifties and sixties
featured vegetable gardens and garden hedges in both town and country locations. The current extensive use of paving in gardens was then new and rare. I remember tarmac paths and, in country areas, brick paths.

As others have mentioned, traffic density was nothing like that of today; in fact, when I was in North London as a lad, I decided to collect car number plates - a bit like train-spotting. This hobby lasted half an hour as only one van
appeared on our street in that time! As many have noted, cars were black. Bicycles, motorbikes often with sidecars, and older cars like the Morris 8 were common compared to the new models now being produced by Oxford diecast.
Horse drawn milk and coal deliveries were still the rule in the fifties until the electric milk float appeared along with flat bed coal lorries.

Another important visitor was the Walls ice cream van. Food deliveries included a man with a heavily laden bicycle selling cockles and welks and the like at the weekend. Another bicycle man was the knife sharpener who called door to door.

Nightly, the gas lamp man would go down the street lighting each gas street lamp in turn using a long pole.
Finally, due to National Service and the Cold War, stations usually featured servicemen in uniform at the weekends typified by the sets which Merit used to produce which are still available from Peco today.


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