Model railway wins best in show at international exhibition

Gilly North with her portrayal of the Staffordshire Potteries around 100 years ago
Gilly North with her portrayal of the Staffordshire Potteries around 100 years ago

A wonderfully accurate model railway layout illustrating smoking bottle kilns of the past has won best in show at Europe’s largest exhibition of its kind.

Ten members of West Sussex N Gauge Model Railway Club, which meets in Sompting, travelled to Stuttgart in Germany for the International N Gauge Model Rail Exhibition.

They were delighted when Gilly North, the only female modeller in the entire exhibition, won the visitors’ choice award with her portrayal of the Staffordshire Potteries around 100 years ago.

Gilly, from Storrington, created the feeling of dirt and grime in Stoke-on-Trent at a time when it produced the finest porcelain in the world.

Club chairman Peter North, Gilly’s husband, said: “It features a working pottery with smoking bottle kilns, an open-cast coal mine, a canal and back-to-back housing adjacent to the works, together with a railway and coal train.

“There is also a funeral at a grave in the churchyard as life expectancy was very short, mainly due to lung damage caused by smoke inhalation.

“In her research, she found this sentence ‘on a good day, you could see the other side of the street’. The visiting public liked it for its historical and modelling accuracy and the whole module is just 4ft x 2ft 6in.”

The West Sussex group was at the annual exhibition for the first time to represent the N Gauge Society, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

About 200 railway modellers from nine countries took part and many thousands of visitors attended.

Mr North added: “N Gauge model railways have a rail spacing of 9mm and are half the size of the popular 00 gauge railways but the detail nowadays in the locomotives and rolling stock is amazing. Some locomotives are digital and have computer chips embedded into their tiny structure.

“This international exhibition was for modular railways, meaning that each modeller builds to a standard board dimension, so that they can be linked together to make large layouts.

“Most of the Europeans linked their modules together to form a huge layout stretching about 150ft x 50ft.

“The West Sussex contingent formed their own individual British outline layout of 14ft square. Although much smaller, it attracted considerable interest and contained a new state-of-the-art fiddle yard, also known as a marshalling yard, which has taken about two years to construct and test.”

There were two competitions for best in show over the four days of the exhibition, one chosen by the exhibiting modellers and the other by the visitors.

West Sussex N Gauge Model Railway Club meets in Sompting Village Hall on the first and third Fridays each month. Visit www.wsng.co.uk for more information.