St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society


July 2024 Club Night 

Read the report HERE


Annnual Outing. Quainton Railway Centre

Read the report HERE


June 2024 Club Night

Read the report HERE


May 2024 Club Night

Read the report HERE


April 2024 Club Night

Read the report HERE


March 2024 Club Night

Read the report HERE


February 2024 Club Night

Read Roy's report


January 2024 Club Night

Read Roy's report


December 2023 Club Night

Read Roy's report


November 2023 Club Night

Read Roy's report


October 2023 Club Night

Read Roy's report


The BIG St.Albans Model Show 2023

Read the show report


September 2023 Club Night

Read Roy's report


August 2023 Club Night.

Read Roy's report


Club Outing to Fawley Hill Railway


See Roy's report


June 2023 Club Night

See Roy's report


May 2023 Club Night

See Roy's report


Mill Green Museum Railway Day

Read Clive's report


April 2023 Club Night . AGM & Club Auction

Read Roy's report


February 2023 Club Night  ...... Read Roy's report


January 2023 Club Night

Read Roy's report


December Club Night  

Read Roy's report


November Club Night  

Read Roy's report


October Club Night  

Read Roy's report


The BIG StAlbans Model Show   

Read Roy's report


September Club Night

Read Roy's report


Picnic Sunday at the Puffing Park   

Read Roy's report


August Club Night   

Read Roy's report


July Club Night   

Read Roy's report


Club Outing to Pitstone Green Museum  

Read Clive's report HERE

June Club Night at the Puffing Park  

Read Roy's report HERE

Chipperfield Platinum Jubilee Celebrations   4th June  2022

Read Mike Joseph's report HERE


Read Roy's report HERE

May club evening.
The Tooling of George H Thomas

We had a treat this evening with Guy telling us of his early attraction to model engineering with the construction of a Tich loco using a very small lathe. He was joined by his father in his interest and they learned together. Back then there were no ready made items from the far east and the UK equipment was expensive, assuming it was available.
His early forays into tools that made life in the workshop easier followed the articles previosly created by George Hasson Thomas who not only wrote about the various tools he had made and published them in the Model Engineer magazine, but told you precisely how to make them in great detail.
Their main attraction was that they made setting up a job in the workshop easier and some of the tools scaled back the size factor to model engineering requirements. There was a special tool for small tapping jobs which took the work off the lathe and enabled very small jobs to be done with care and more feel for the work in progress. As an example tapping with a 10BA tap.
Other tools were additions to the lathe to make repetitive work easier, like screw cutting. Guy went through the ones he had made and their uses, and for me who has just a passing knowledge of workshop equipment, it was fascinating and if nothing else I now know how an edge finder works!
Each tool was on view and would easilly pass for professional work. Guy gave a reason for their construction and use. Some of them were complex as was the dividing head for which even the castings were expensive. However Guy had the drawings and managed to fabricate in place of buying castings and just bought essential gears and worms. The sheer number of items Guy had made and used covered most of three tables as can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Guy responded to questions during his talk was asked questions during the break and for a good while after his talk was finished. The tools are described with the photos and Guy is to be congratulated on giving an excellent evening which was of interest to all.
Chairman ended the evening with a vote of thanks and Guy received a well deserved round of applause from the membership.
Collective thanks go out also to the backroom members setting up and then clearing down the hall and to our tea and coffee makers Jack and Neil.

Roy Verden 12/5/22


Brambleton Model Railway Club Open Day 

A report by Justin Watkins

Brambleton Model Railway Club in Harpenden had an open day on 7th May 2022.

Brambleton is hidden away in a forest on the North side of Harpenden, and boasts two extensive outdoor systems of track. The O Gauge lines date back to the opening of the club in the 1950s, and use battery-powered trains representing main line stock. Much of the track-bed was renewed over the last two years, and there was plenty of action with a wide range of passenger and freight trains. Signalling is managed using a bell-code system, and the whole area rings with the pleasant "ding-ding", as operators communicate the state of their sections.

In the 1990s, a dedicated section was built for live steam locos (SM32 uses the same track gauge as O gauge, but represents a different scale - 1:19 instead of 1:48). This has also proved very popular, and has been extended several times. The West Herts area group of the 16mm Association use the Brambleton site frequently, and today brought lots of steam action (and a few battery powered locos as well). There is no "signalling" of the live steam section as such - drivers are supposed to be observant: the emphasis is on running live steam.

The public arrived from 2pm, and soon the site was packed with visitors - the parents were often more excited than the children - and there was plenty for them to see. The weather cooperated beautifully. In addition to the trains, there was a refreshments tent, a stand from our own Society with a fine display of steam workshops, model boats, Stirling engines and the club loco 'Polly' on a rolling road, and a stand from Luton Model Boat Club. Visitors to our stand took great interest in all of the models on display and they were rewarded with a flyer for our club show in September. Lots of people asked questions about the locos, about the wagons, about the cost, and there was plenty of opportunity to chat.

Throughout the day, the steady chuff of cylinders was accompanied by whiffs of steam, as trains took various routes around the extensive circuits, delighting visitors young and old. Eventually the gates were closed to the public. Trains continued running for a while, conversations continued to be had, and no doubt somewhere a child is nagging a parent to get a steam train for their garden too.

Easter Sunday Sailng at Verulamium Park

A report by Rob Briancourt


The weather was exceptionally good as was the condition of the model boating lake and the club members turned out in force for the first club sailing session for a long while.

The boating activity drew a lot of attention from the public and the club's 'Have-a-Go' boats were particularly popular with children and their parents too, all eager to take to the controls.

The two Alans were running a selection of their boats, Mike G had a fine time with his little runabout, Malcolm brought one of his steam powered boats and new member Roger Elkins was running his RAF Crash Rescue Tender.

Rob took the opportunity to give his Pilots Boat it's maiden voyage and was very pleased with the boats appearance and performance. Our poster boards were proudly announcing our club exhibition in September and lots of flyers were handed out to potential visitors.

Everyone agreed that the mornings sailing was great fun and all those that turned up to run boats and help out with the event were rewarded with a delicious chocolate Easter egg.

Rob Briancourt

April, The AGM, The Election and The Presentation.

A report by Roy Verden


It had been decided that we should have models and workshop pieces on display as we were to have a visit from the Chairman of the Northern Association of Model Engineering Societies.  NAMES!

The start was the AGM and the first item was our Chairman Mike Collins reviewing the past year with its delayed start due to Covid and the restrictions.

The Review is published separately.

Next came our Treasurer to report on the financial standing of the club with our liquid funds ebbing away we need to see a profit from the proposed Club Exhibition in September 2022.

His accounts are available for members to see.

The next item was the election of committee members.  The Chairman and Treasurer were happy to stand again and also new, to the official committee, 2 of our co-opted members Rob Briancourt and Guy Keen had been nominated.  The club gave a unanimous show of hands in approval.

There being no other business the AGM was closed.

Next we had the Chairman of NAMES who had come 'down' to see the club to present the Trophy for the best Newsletter of all the participating clubs.  Frank Cooper explained the background to the presentation and it was duly presented to Mike Collins amidst a round of applause and photos taken to mark the occasion.  There was a cheque as well!  Our Chairman has generously donated this to club funds.

Frank went on to explain some detail on the rather high cost of insurance and also answer other questions.  He was thanked for his visit and we hoped he would enjoy the rest of the evening.



There are accompanying photos of the the various models on display and we also enjoyed tea and biscuits from Neil and Jack. We did have a separate talk in case needed and Rob was on standby with camera ready to assist in the presentation.

The evening closed just after 10 and the stalwarts who make the evening comfortable for us all sprang into action and all the tables and chairs went back into their places.

An enjoyable evening and it was nice to see our Newsletter editor Mike Collins receive outside acclaim for the excellent Newsletter that has been a mainstay of our long trip through Covid and paid a great part in keeping the club together.

Roy Verden (Hon Sec)

March Club Night Report

With our Chairman skiing on snow in Andorra and our Honorary Secretary in Australia enduring flood conditions, (I wonder if Roy can water ski?) the evening was directed by our Treasurer Mike Grossmith who kicked off with the usual club business. Nominations for club officers and new committee members were invited and we were also reminded that the April meeting will be the AGM and no hall fees need to be paid for that evening. Roger told us that work on the G1 track at Puffing Park was progressing  well and that 37 yards of second-hand track and two turnouts had been purchased from a seller in Luton.

An Easter Boating Regatta is being planned for Sunday 17th April at 10 am and interested members added their names to the list. The club is supporting Redbourne Museum Day on 28th May and we hope to have the portable track there and also some boat exhibits too. Mike reminded us that it will be the 75th Anniversary of the club this year and suggestions are welcome on how to best celebrate this.

A visit to the GWSR railway near Cheltenham has been sugested as a Club Day Out, more details of this to follow.

The meeting was then handed over to Justin Watkins to talk about his compact ‘N gauge’ layout that he has titled "The Plait" and he proceeded to describe the concept and the construction.

It took 3 years to construct in spare time between other major projects and it evolved from an initial concept using six half circles of cardboard with the same radius of N gauge ‘Peco’ track (althought ‘Flexitrack’ was used in the final construction). Justin had to give special consideration to the gradients and clearances between the tracks to ensure that the loco and wagons would run freely. The supports for the track were initially made from Lego to prove the concept and after adjustments the whole assembly was reproduced in plywood from Justin’s ‘scrap bin’.

The electrics are very simple but the controller is quite unique in that it has a control for speed and also one to control the rate of acceleration and braking. Unfortunately the train will only go around the track in one direction as the Loco does not have enough power to haul a set of wagons on what would be very steep upward gradients. Justin is undecided about adding some suitable scenery…although a ‘Steam Punk’ theme was suggested which he agreed would be an interesting concept.


The evening then moved on to a talk by our new member Ted Pritchard on his magnificent Meccano ‘Block Setting Crane’ which he has constructed from a 120 weekly ‘partwork’ publication with each weekly issue arriving with parts and instructions to progress the model. The model is based on an original Meccano design from 1935 but has been brought up to date with a revised design and all parts used, with the exception of a couple of 'joggled'  strips, are all to the original Meccano patterns.

Ted has modified the design to incorporate four motors and a four channel radio control system instead of the single motor and lever controls design of the model. Three of the motors are in the Jib section and separately drive the jib rotation, the forward movement of the jib trolley and the raising and lowering of the hook. The fourth motor in the base section drives the whole crane along the track. There is single 14 metre cord for the winching mechanism that goes around the winch drum and five pulleys with a further four pulleys on the hook. The jib counterweight, consisting of multiple metal plates, weighs 8Kg.

Ted intends to build a much taller base unit for the crane that will be used as a centrepiece for the ‘Tamiya Truckers’ track layout, built by his sons Mike and Ant Pritchard, and seen at many exhibitions and shows that they attend as a very popular attraction. The idea of the raised base is to allow for trucks with containers to pass beneath and Ted will be devising a method of grabbing and releasing containers to move them on and off trucks in a realistic fashion.

Ted also demonstrated one of his smaller radio controlled cranes and some members took the opportunity to have a go at running it.

Rob Briancourt 12th March 2022

February Club Night Report

Our Chairman called 'order' and went through the agenda for the evening.  There were some new suggestions to think about and then after AOB the formal part of the meeting was finished. 

Mike our Chairman who also was our speaker for the evening introduced us to the fearsome model of a Tiger Tank he is building but first went into the origins and development of the prototype.

There were many questions, some during and a few after the talk with speculation on paint finish, sound and motorization.



I think Mike was surprised at the good response he had from the audience and I think I can safely say that this was a great way to start of our club evenings with our own members taking the limelight for the coming year. 

Rob filmed Mike's talk and the video and it is  available for club members exclusively to view on request.

We aim to continue in this format with subjects and speakers from within the membership.








Thanks go to Rob for technical assistance and to Jack and Neil for organising the tea and biscuits and Guy for seeing us all in and to all the members who set up chairs etc for the evening and then put it all away again.

Roy Verden 10th February 2022

January 2022 Club Night Report

The January club night is always a very enjoyable one for the members because as a change from talks about locos and boats we have a Film Show. This year's show was also different because of a change of venue due to our usual meeting place undergoing some renovations. The  Park Street Baptist Church Hall proved to be comfortable and conveniently located and after a welcome from our chairman and some brief club business the evening was handed over to Frank Banfield for his film show.


The first film was "Advanced Passenger Train" a documentary about the development of the 1970's high speed train with it's unique tilting locomotive and carriages which was well ahead of its time. The experimental APT-E achieved a new British railway speed record on 10 August 1975 when it reached 152.3 miles per hour, only to be bested by the service prototype APT-P at 162.2 miles per hour in December 1979, a record that stood until September 2006. Development of the service prototypes dragged on, and by the late 1970s the design had been under construction for a decade and the trains were still not ready for service. In spite of the APT's troubled history, the design was highly influential and directly inspired other high speed trains such as the Pendolino.

"Study in Steel" was Frank's next showing, it's a film about the processes involved in the making of iron and its subsequent refinement into steel. The film described the complex metallurgy that goes into the production of highest quality steel for industry. Several revolutionary processes were described including vacuum de-gassing and casting and vacuum arc re-melting, these processes used the the latest computer technology of the day.

The third film was produced by the MOD and was a light hearted look at the care and maintainence of the tyres used on military transport vehicles and how worn and damaged tyres can be given a new lease of life after the repair of the casing and the application of a new tread. The film pressed home the point that during the war rubber was quite scarce and that by regularly checking tyres for damage and correct inflation was essential to maintain tyres in serviceable condition.  Private Duff was seen to be kicking tyres to check the pressure instead of using a  pressure gauge while Lance Corporal Smith showed how it should be done property with a well maintained pressure gauge and foot pump. A lesson for us all perhaps?

The next film was made by Hatfield resident and local historian Ron Kingdom. His original 8mm film had been enlarged to 16mm and it was all about a branch line from Hatfield that served various businesses along its route including a coal merchants, an orchid grower, a Salvation Army printing works and a Fyffes Banana depot at Smallford. Along the line we saw Smallford Lane, Station Road Smallford, Nast Hyde Halt, Fiddle Bridge sidings and Lemsford Halt.


The Nast Hyde level crossing area is now a large housing estate. There was no commentary to the film so Frank did his own and some scenes were instantly recognisable by various members who were familiar with the locations and added thier own running commentary.

"Rhythm of the Rails" was Franks next film. Produced by the British Iron and Steel Federation this documentary film covered many aspects of rail infrastructure and rail travel.  The Crew Railway Works have produced 7000 locomotives since 1845 and it is here that they are also fitted with new axles, wheels and tyres. A loco body can weigh upwards of 78 tons with an empty boiler and require two 50 Ton cranes to lift.



The Rugby Testing Station is used for loco testing and trials and has braking loads to simulate a 650 Ton train at 75 mph up a 1:200 gradient to test or maximum performance and minimum fuel and water consumption without the loco moving an inch on the test rig. It's here that the braking systems are inspected and worn brake shoes are replaced.   At the time this film was made the country had 52,000 miles of railway track equivalent to 9 million tons of railway line.  Each track section is 60 feet in length and the joints in the track are responsible for the "Rhythm of the Rails" as the wheels run over the joins. It is said that with the sound of 88 'bumps' per mile a clever person can easily calculate the speed of the train.  In this film we also learn that when The Royal Scot leaves Euston station on its way to Glasgow via Carlisle, it will use 10 Tons of coal and 20,000 galons of water as it caries 400 passengers on a 400 mile journey.

Davy McKee of Sheffield is an engineering firm that specialise in the forming and shaping of metals and in this film we learn that they have won a contract to machine some mill housings for the Sicotsa Steel Works at Lázaro Cárdenas on Mexico's Pacific coast. The £350 million contract is for machining  four 14 metre long and 5 metre wide castings each weighing 333 Tons for a plate mill. The forgings need to be transported from Goole harbour initially by canal to Doncaster and then by road (M18 & M1) to the Davy McKee works in Sheffield. The road transport involves complex arrangements with authorities and in some places road bridges will have to be reinforced to take the total  548 Tons of the transport vehicle and its load. The machining of each mill housings will take 12 weeks after which they are transported back to Goole for shipping to Mexico.

Franks final films were 'Hurry Hurry' starring WC Fields, a film we've seen before but nevertheless still very funny and then a couple of short 'spoof' film trailers and an advertisement for 'BOGGO' which, if you didn't see it, I would find very difficult to describe......but it's very funny !


Rob Briancourt. 18th Jan 2022


December Club Night Report 


December Club Evening. A report by Roy Verden


Cold outside but nice and warm inside, already busy when I arrived with Mike our Treasurer.  Signing-in showed a goodly number of members ahead of me and quite a few following on.

There was a fair bit of conversation going on and the usual interest in the magazines for all on the tables at the rear. Also displayed was our Chairman's enormous Panzer tank chassis, more of this at our February evening. Ted Pritchard had brought along some working Meccano models, a Landrover and a London double decker bus (I hope I got that right!) both radio controlled. I had brought my Mamod and Wilesco toy work shop, no steam in sight, this one is electric powered.

The raffle prizes brought in by members were a most generous donation of goodies which must have tempted more than the usual number of ticket sales.

We were eventually called to order by our Chairman who welcomed all to our light hearted evening of a quiz and some films put together by our Treasurer Mike Grossmith with Rob assisting on the venue IT. He went on to give us a summary of Covid restrictions as they applied to our evening together this month.

He then said it was his pleasant duty to award the Chairman's Shield, which was for members that had put in that much extra into the way the club runs.  Singled out this year were the team who had kept the Puffing Park neat and tidy and also managed the demolition of the old tunnel and created a new one with a pedestrian walk over. It all seemed to happen like magic.

Jack and Neil were there to receive the trophy and Jack thanked all those who had contributed to the grounds maintenance and upkeep, and managed the track and tunnel projects.  Much appreciated by all members with a long round of applause.  Chairman then handed the proceedings over to Mike Grossmith who started us off with the Heads and Tails contest.

Each person present stood up and decided which to adopt, heads or tails, then the coin was tossed and if you chose correctly you remained standing.  This went on for 5 rounds to decide the winner, which turned out to be Alan Holt who received a bottle of Prosecco for his perspicacity.  The odd thing was that after 5 consecutive tossing’s of the coin it came down heads every time.

Next we had some vintage black and white films, the first on marshalling a very heavy transformer load along a road route to its resting place. After that there was an interesting (but lengthy) film based around the Southampton docks and local rail network, and finally a film about cleaning and repair on the London Underground railway system. Amazing how the script writers at the time ascribed Cockney accents to technical activities and the working man, but at least these days the loud musical accompaniment has been reduced to a minimum.  Fair mucks up the 'earing aids guv! (mind how you say that!).

After the films we went live, so to speak, with Mike's own quiz on general knowledge. Thirty questions in all, were put up onto the screen, featuring logos, faces of known (or perhaps unknown) personalities and scenes from around the world for participants to name or identify.

By now the ladies on the catering and gents on the tea and coffee were all ready and we stopped for refreshments.  Hot sausage rolls mince pies and cake, tea and coffee etc. were enjoyed by all.  There was a good deal of catching up with old friends and it was also nice to see a sprinkling of new members too.

Back to the Quiz answers, between us we knew nearly all the answers but Rob was the one who got most right on his own and you've guessed it, he won a bottle of Prosecco!

During this time Guy Keen had been busy selling raffle tickets and when this had finished Clive masterminded the raffle.  He lined up the prizes in a random order and then a number was drawn for the first prize in the line-up and so on down the line, each prize recipient got to pick out the following winning number.  The raffle raised £170 and this went into club funds.

There are always some murmurings about committee members winning prizes, but has always has been, so we are used to it by now.  Tough and suck it up are words that come to mind!  To ensure that no prizes would be brought back next year, Rob with his trusty paparazzi hat on now, took photographic evidence, which will be used later........if necessary!  You can see the committee are adopting a much tougher attitude, just wait until our Chairman gets his Panzer tank working!

By now our allotted time was up and our Mike, our Chairman, thanked all concerned in putting together an excellent evening's entertainment.  He reminded us that the January meeting would be at Park Street Baptist Church but in the meantime wished all a Merry Christmas (we hope).

Best wishes and a Merry Christmas from me as well.

Roy Verden. 9th December 2021

November Club Night...a report by Roy Verden

My job is to provide content for our club evenings and for the November meeting I gathered together three speakers all interested in G1 and narrow gauge using the 45mm track. I also had in mind promoting the G1 track (45mm gauge) currently under  construction.

Starting us off was Roger Stephen with a well thought out presentation on building G1 rolling stock.  (1:32 scale).

Roger had bought a RTR loco which worked very well and needed some rolling stock.  This was all done on the basis of spending as little as possible, and learning along the way.  The use of available materials e.g. C section aluminium as the basis for a chassis and at a size that just suited G1, plus turning his own wheels, led onto deciding how to continue.


The use of 3D printing looked like the way to go, and we have a couple of members conversant with this but it still needed a drawing to work/construct from.

Roger told us how he tried and discarded one system but found another that was easy to work with.  Using this he outlined how he designed the W Irons, suspension,  and passed the file onto Baz and later Justin and who have 3D printing machines for them to 'print' and we saw the finished product.



Most of his wagons are constructed with 2mm MDF and he found a company in Wales who supplied a very hard product which worked well with his construction.  The paint used was Halfords grey undercoat which was just
right. Lettering had proved difficult but perseverance on the Internet found a good and cheap supplier. Later Roger told us about his carriage construction and the manufacture of the bogies.








It was all accompanied by models on the table and camera work by Rob putting the images on the large screen plus photos taken during the building.  There were various questions asked during the talk which Roger dealt with.

The question of compensation (a way of allowing the wheels to deal with uneven track) was discussed and Roger said he had also tried small ball races as bearings which made for easy running. Other points of discussion led us very nicely to 9 p.m.

This took us up to the tea and biscuits break all organised by Den and Jack.

Next to talk was Michael he was telling us how and when the 10 mm to the foot or 1:22 .5 scale came about.  His own interest was in the Narrow gauge or 1:22.5 scale so everything was a bit larger.

Michael went on to talk about the particular railway that he liked the narrow gauge Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway and the kit carriage he had made.  He warned us about expensive kits not necessarily being better, as he had been disappointed with some aspects of the resin castings he had.  The suggested methods of heat and warm water had failed to remove the warps in the resin parts, and this meant he had to replace some parts but the finished result was excellent.

It seems that Halfords car paints can take a very long time to dry on resin!

Michael said he had tried several glues but settled on cyano-acrylate as the easiest to use.  He had also built from Tenmille kits some very nice looking carriages.  Being quite large he had also fitted them out with seats complete with passengers, it was difficult to find 85mm high models and so he made his own. He was also experimenting with lighting using LEDs.

Michael made the point that the engines, gas fired and radio controlled, are expensive but carriages and trucks can be constructed very cheaply. The two steam locos he brought in, usually ran on his end to end track in the garden and are a great entertainment for the grandchildren.

He ended with a plea for help in the construction of his 3 1/2 inch Britannia boiler so is anyone out there able to help?


Our last speaker for the evening was Mike G our Treasurer and his interest was G1 LMS and told us about his experience in building from kits using etched brass which has to be soldered.  This was the other end of the scale with wagon kits costing £85 and upwards.  The wagon and carriage kits were expensive but here the kits are models of specific trucks and all the under frame detailing is excellent.  He went through his building techniques and painting.

Then he showed us one of five LMS carriages kits he had with aluminium laser cut bodies.  Beautifully detailed and fitting accompaniment for his long awaited kit for a LMS Jubilee loco, also under construction.

Secretary thanked the speakers for their combined efforts, there clearly is a need for the G1 track being constructed and although halted at the moment we hope to resume during the spring.


Thanks as always go to the movers and shakers who get the chairs and tables out and clear up afterwards.

Roy Verden. 12th Nov 2021


October Club Night and Auction
a report by Roy Verden

Club evening 13th, October 2021.

We had a great evening reflecting PC times (pre-Covid) with a good turnout of members.  So what were we doing? ......... Well we had an auction!

Members bought in their various Lots on offer to other members and there was non-better to make this happen than our very own Peter Haycock as Auctioneer.  He would have made an excellent dentist with his methods of extracting money from pockets and all without anaesthetic too.

The Lots varied from engineering must haves to marine models in need of TLC and lots of books and magazines. 

What may look like a box of metal to some soon resolves into types of steel and various reamers and the like but that is what our Peter knows about.

The main thing was, it all ran in a friendly fashion.  But to do so it needs support and we had our youngest member Isaac as a runner and ably supported by Guy Keen who also has the good set of eyes for reading the small numbers.

I assisted with moving things along and helping with identifying the radio control items.

Another welcome return was our tea break and thanks go to Den and Jack for getting it all working with just 8 hours’ notice, nice biscuits too.  We had the break at 9pm and the members had to be driven back into the room afterwards to make sure we managed to find all the remaining items a nice new home.


The auctioneering continued until we ran out of Lots. There are always a few things that do not attract a buyer and these have to be taken back by their owners as we have to leave the room as we found it.

Tucked away in the corner all evening were the Two M’s Mike G, our Treasurer, and Mick W ably assisting him, they had to note all the numbers of the Lot winners and do the final accounting.

Buyers and sellers alike queued to get their money or pay their bill and at the end of the evening we had a very happy Treasurer, very pleased with the boost to club funds.

Payment this time was most interesting as Bank transfers were used a few times.

Of course having the chairs and tables out does not happen all on its own and thanks go to the many members who helped both before and after and cleaned the table surfaces as required.  The evening was a great success thanks to the team effort involved.

Thanks also to Roger for printing out the names and numbers and documentation to make the auction work.

It was good to see the club getting back together again, we have lost a few faces but gained some new ones as our Chairman remarked.   We had a great evening and it was nice to see so many involved in making it so.

Roy Verden Hon Sec.

14th October 2021


September Club Night

a report by Roy Verden

September 8th was our first seated club evening since March 2020 so we were on a bit of a learning curve again.  We spread the chairs out as had been prescribed and Rob got us going on the screen and camera.  The audio system had a problem so just a hand mike and no lapel mike, and the projector was a temporary replacement and not so bright and the control batteries were flat.

Well a bit of a set-back but we soldiered on.

Our Chairman welcomed members to the evening and we dealt with a few business items and then Malcolm Beak powered up his laptop and launched into his talk on how to work out what size boiler would be needed to power a steam plant.

He talked about heating surfaces and steam pressures and the volume of steam available at the required pressure. Also the relative merits of different gases and calorific content and pressures.

There was some discussion about previous exploits with steam boats and testing burners rounded off with questions and then very conveniently the laptop expired!

We had a short break and then on to radio control 101 with yours truly leading the talk.  The emphasis was on using the old equipment which in the main still functions and is compatible with all the current servos and the like.


There was explanation of the frequencies and limitations and what to look for in the old units some of which were up to 50 years old, and still in use.  The various common use servos speed controllers etc were shown and inspected.  The RC is also useful for the smaller locos in controlling the throttle.

I then handed over to Rob Briancourt who brought us up to date with  2.4 Ghtz equipment showing how the receiver and transmitter were paired together and, crystals no longer needed, mentioning the frequency hopping technology being used by the RC and of course mobile phones.  LiPo batteries were now commonplace, light in weight and easily charged with the correct equipment.   The ability of the computer aided transmitters to have 20 models assigned to them, each with different set-ups, and the greater range this equipment is a great advantage.

Rob’s installation made full use of the multi-channel set he had with the additional functions for various lighting systems.  He also described how his brushless motor and esc worked.

Questions followed and gradually the evening drew to a close and the tables and chairs went back to their homes and we said goodnight to be greeted by heavy rain outside, such is life!

Roy Verden. 9th Sept 2021

August Club Night. we return to the ChristChurch Centre.

A report by Roy Verden

Our first club evening in August for 18 months was very well attended, I booked our first evening back in June when we were looking forward to 23rd. of June being freedom day.  Events proved otherwise but we never gave up hope!

Our Chairman then gave his first live address to the society members gathered there for the evening and it was well received.  He was also not forgetting our recently departed members Mick Bell, Tony Mason and most recently Godfrey Greeves.  None of which was due to Covid-19.    All will be greatly missed.

Members brought along their models and projects they had been working on during the lockdown period and no doubt these models in the future will always bring back memories.  The number of models was most heartening, marine and more than a few narrow gauge locos. I brought along a sailing yacht to keep my rather more lonely interests in the picture.

The evening was a bit drafty due to open doors, well, we have to take precautions as new members are hard to find and we must try and look after the ones we have!  It was nice to welcome a possible new member to the fold as well. The only complaints heard were that members were not able to look at all of the other models as they were busy answering questions about their own.  There was a nice buzz about the evening as we all considered what it was like getting back to the new normal.

It looks bright for the future and the majority of the forthcoming meetings will be devoted to members’ models and basics in several areas including marine and steam and locos and G1 rolling stock.  Thanks as always go to the members who were there early and got the tables out and they also cleaned the surfaces as requested before they were returned.

Our next club evening content is noted in the club calendar and I hope that more members will attend.  The hall fee is £3.00 which only just covers the cost of hiring this splendid hall.  Very good considering we have connection to the Internet have WiFi and can stream video on the pull down screen or show detail of demonstrations from the evening speakers all from the overhead video projector.  There is an excellent sound system and I believe a loop for wearers of hearing aids. The hall is large enough to sit all of our members with comfortable spacing to cope with current virus conditions.

Thank you to all members having the faith to come out and join in with meetings again, should anything untoward happen we have the signing in book so that we can contact members if necessary.

Regards to all,



Godfrey Greeves - Obituary

I’m sad to report the sudden passing of Godfrey Greeves.
Many of you will be aware of this from the e-mails I have sent you in connection with his funeral. Godfrey’s daughter Davina informed us that he was looking forward to connecting in to our July club meeting over Zoom when he suffered a serious stroke, from which he didn’t recover.


Godfrey was a very skilled engineer and very admired club member and we will all miss his charm and friendliness, he will be very much missed. 

We will be publishing an obituary for Godfrey in a future issue of the Newsletter.

Vacancy - Club Publicity Officer
The club is looking for someone to be responsible for publicising our activities. The aim of increasing our publicity is to lead to an increase in membership and more visitors to our events. These combine to increase the vitality of our club by giving us more choices and resources.

The role details are as follows:

• Needs to be familiar with popular social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.
• Works with the relevant club members to discuss, agree and execute publicity plans for club events.
• Works to raise the profile of the club as an ongoing activity using social media e.g. Build an Instagram
• Provide updates and bring ideas to the committee.

If you wish to put yourself forward or discuss to this role please drop Mike Collins a line on to arrange a chat.

8th Feb 2021

The End of the Tunnel

A report by Clive Reynolds

On the front of the October Newsletter was a photo of the remains of the tunnel lining.  It was apparent that the club could not efficiently remove the scrap iron from the puffing park.  It was realised that employing a “dodgy scrap man” could backfire resulting in an uninvited revisit; we needed a reputable dealer.

Irene and I spend time at Walton-on-the-Naze and on Saturday mornings we visit Terry’s Yard, a house clearance outlet; it’s an essential business in that part of the world.  When the yard opens at 9am there is always a queue of twenty or so regulars.  This is very much a social event and over the years we have noticed a mountain of a man with a 4-wheel drive pick-up.  This pick-up advertised FMS Scrap Recovery.  Irene has said in the past that she has seen FMS vehicles around St Albans.  We googled FMS and sure enough it was a local firm based outside Radlett.  At a recent visit to the yard the pick-up was there and I enquired with the driver, Chris, where he was based.  It was the Radlett company and I explained the tunnel situation.  It turns out that Chris has a 24” gauge track in his garden so I was confident that we had the right company.  Chris gave me his card and I visited his business to arrange removal of the tunnel scrap.  It is some operation dealing with all sorts of scrap with some twenty vehicles.

We agreed a no cost arrangement and a date, 8th October.  The smallest FMS lorry with a grab turned up on time at 9.30.  Jack, Neil and I were there for help if needed.  By 10.00 the truck was loaded and ready to go.

It had rained the night before and the driver decided if he drove in and reversed out he could avoid the grass.  While we were there it poured down and needless to say when within 15 yards from the gate the rear wheels started to spin and there it stayed.  We tried improving traction with wood, netting, mats and straps but it was apparent that a more radical approach, a tow, was needed.   So over coffee the driver decided he should phone home for help and Chris came to the rescue with his 4-wheel drive pick-up.  The pick-up stayed the common side of the gates and with a few manoeuvres the lorry was able to free itself with a bit of slipping and sliding through the gates (just a small repair needed). 

By 11.30 the scrap was on its way.

Do we have a new member?  I will work on Chris.  He has an electric loco for his garden railway which needs attention.

Clive Reynold 14th October 2020

A visit to the NLSME G1 Track
Read Roy Verden's article HERE

July 2020

March Club Night Report

The evening began with a welcome from Mike Grossmith who was acting as Chairman in the absence of Clive Reynolds and various matters were discussed regarding forthcoming club events. The members were reminded that the April club night is also the AGM and club auction and nominations are required for Chairman, Secretary and some committee members.

The minutes of the meeting were taken by Roy Verden and can be read HERE.

Jeff Carter was then invited to take the stage and talk about some ongoing construction projects.

Having previously built a "Trent Class" lifeboat Jeff was encouraged to build a "Shannon" class boat. Kits for this have been made by companies such as 'Speedline Models' and 'Models by Design' but the kits are now out of production as a result of the owners retiring, however Jeff had wisely purchased one previously and he decided to make a start on the construction.

The real boat is 13 metres long and is designed by the RLNI and constructed at their site in Poole. Powered by two Scania 650HP engines with water jet propulsion the boat can be launched in as little as 2.5 metres of water from a Catapillar Tractor unit. The water jets can drive the boat at very high speed but are also capable of stopping from 20 Knots within the boats length by deploying the reversing 'buckets'.


On Jeff's model the water propulsion units are made by KMB in Berlin and are driven by brushless motors. Four servos control the propulsion units via flexible 'bowden' cables.

The Shannon kit is all fibreglass construction and will no doubt be finished to Jeff's exacting standards.

Trumpeter is a very well known maker of plastic models that lend themselves readily to conversion from static display to a functioning radio controlled model. The USS Arizona is one such model that Jeff is constructing.

The Arizona is one of the two ships that the US Navy were unable to salvage and restore after the attack on Pearl Harbour and it remains there as a war memorial. The Trumpeter kit comprises no less than 1000 parts that can be further enhanced with etched brass accessories at some great additional cost, however Jeff has sensibly chosen to forego much of that and make a practical conversion to electric propulsion and radio control.


Four small brushed motors drive brass propellers through long shafts at quite a shallow angle which could result in water ingress but Jeff's model has lubricated shafts and internal bulkheads which will reduce the risks if this happens. Access to the internals of the model is facilitated by adapting the superstructure so it can be easily removed, electrical switches are hidden underneath the removable gun turrets.

One particular detail that Jeff has invested in is an amazingly detailed laser etched real wood deck, this is a complete 'self adhesive' part that is fixed over the plastic deck and is finished with a protective lacquer.

The model needs a lot of lead ballast as it is so light that there would be virtually no displacement without it.

Roy Verden gave a short talk about a boat that was an 'unloved & unwanted' model left over from a club sale. 'Plaudit' is a model of a Thames work boat constructed with a light but strong balsa hull and plastic superstructure. Acording to Roy there was a sister model by the name of 'Plashey' and the names of the two boats were derived from the Port of London Authority initials and a bit of poetic license!



The model was built from a plan in 'Model Boats' magazine and is a design by Dave Metcalf.

Plaudit has a single large propeller driven by a brushed motor at quite a low RPM which by all accounts is very efficient. There is a single ECU (electronic control unit) with a BEC (battery eliminator circuit) to power the receiver. Control is via a 27 Meg radio system.



Being mostly balsa the model needs quite a lot of lead balast to sit in the water with the correct amount of freeboard. Roy may run the boat a the forthcoming Easter Egg Regatta on April 12th at Verulam Park.

Do come along to the regatta, bring a boat, have some fun and you will be rewarded with a chocolate Easter Egg.


13th March 2020


In support of the centenary of the St.Albans branch of the RLNI the club put up two teams for the RLNI Quiz Night on Saturday 7th March.  The teams comprised Terry & Rosie Wybrow, Den & Barbara Blazdell, Fran Beak & Jack Green on table 12 and our other team on table 5 comprised Mike Grossmith, Malcolm Beak, Rob & Linda Briancourt and a local couple, Lynne & Bill Batchelor.

The quiz was good fun and the questions very varied in subject, in some instances rather contentious, but as always the quizmasters decision was final.

During the break all the participants enjoyed a fish and chip supper.

Our St.AlbansMES teams did well with table 5 in 6th place and table 12 in 9th place.

Table 1 (the RLNI table!), with fellow club member Alan Holt and wife Eunice on the team, took first place with the highest score of the evening.

The branch have announced that a total of £730 was raised from the quiz tickets and raffle tickets, a very handsome sum that will go some way to support the service of the RLNI around our coastline.









About the St.Albans District Fundraising Branch:

Established in 1920, the Branch will be celebrating its centenary in 2020.

The Branch has directly funded three lifeboats:

  • an early Liverpool class boat which served at New Quay Cardiganshire 1948-70
  • a B class inshore rescue boat at Burnham on Crouch 1969-73
  • a prototype (wooden hulled) Atlantic class 21 at West Mersea 1972-6

Substantial annual fund raising continues under the leadership of our Chairman Jean McCann, gold badge and bar, still very active aged 92. Regular activities include the sale of souvenirs at local events, a quiz night, talks about the RNLI to schools and groups, a Christmas sale of cards and calendars, outings and both street and store collections.


The picture shows 'the 'R.N.L.B  StAlbans', one of the three lifeboats which the Branch has funded - it served at New Quay, Cardiganshire between 1948 & 1970 and saved 78 lives.

A model of this lifeboat is currently on display at the St.Albans Museum courtesy of Alan Holt.


Visit the RLNI St.Albans branch website HERE for more information on forthcoming fundraising events. 



10th March 2020

Ian Ferguson announces the start of the relocated 'Engineering Evenings'

to Oaklands College, Welwyn Garden City.  For more details click HERE

First 'Engineering Evening' is Thursday, February 27th.

24th Feb 2020

February Club Night Report

To start the evening Clive introduced two new  members, Ron and Justin, we hope that we gave them a good impression of the club.
Clive continued with a review of the Ally Pally show and thanked those who donated models and reminded members of various forthcoming club events, asking them to add their names to the lists if they wish to participate. The Puffing park and boating lake were then covered and Roger Lane covered some matters relating to the lake and MPBA activities. Rob Briancourt updated members on the Website and Mike Collins on the Newsletter, Mike also reminded all that the new club baseball cap was available to buy from Jack Green during the refreshment break.

The minutes of the meeting were taken by Mike Collins who was standing in for Roy Verden.

Mike's minutes can be read HERE.

Clive then handed over to Roger Stephen to give his talk.

Roger gave advice on buying a miniature locomotive, concentrating mainly on live steam.  He gave a list of things a potential purchaser might want to consider before taking the plunge and then went into more detail on each one.

Topics covered were:   What are your aspirations?;   What size loco do you want?;

What facilities do you have at home to store and look after it?;   What will it weigh?;

Where and how to buy a loco?;   What will it cost? (How long is a piece of string!) and  What else do you need to get to run it?

One or two members said they wished they had heard Roger’s talk before they bought their first loco!

During the refreshment break the members took the opportunity to discuss their own experiences with Roger and to examine the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway 2-6-2 loco No 759 ‘Yeo’ Tank Engine that Roger brought to show as an example of a commercially available ready built locomotive.




Mike’s talk was about the challenges involved in taking on a thirty year old part built Stirling Single locomotive in 5” gauge.



The current state of the model exhibits a number of issues each demanding a decision on whether to scrap and remake or whether to go with as is.The model is also covered in a fine layer of rust but fortunately not to the extent it can’t be cleaned up with some elbow grease. Mike took people through the various decisions that need to be made, seeking advice as he went.


The consensus from the audience was that the model is worth persevering with but the first step has to be to sort out the frames, which are out of alignment to the extent it was likely to make completing the locomotive satisfactorily very difficult. Mike was reluctant to give up and was having difficulty deciding whether the model could be rescued and so he is very grateful for the advice received.


15th February 2020

January Club Night Report

As the members arrived for the evening they paid over their membership fees for 2020 to Baz Butcher and collected their new membership cards. Clive welcomed all to the evening and the usual club business was conducted. The minutes of the meeting were taken by Mike Collins who was standing in for Roy Verden who is on his annual visit to family in Australia.

Mike's minutes can be read HERE.


Clive was to be seen sporting a very fetching baseball cap complete with embroidered club badge, this is a new item of club apparel introduced by Jack Green and is available to order for only £6. Please contact Jack to place your orders.

Click HERE for more information on the range of club garments.



Mike Grossmith declared the intention to go ahead with the regatta at the Verulamium Lake on 12th April and will be taking the club boats along. He asked that anyone needing to get their boat in full working order to bring it along to the 'Boat Clinic' at the March club night.

The boating lake has now a healthy level of water thanks to recent rainfall and some members took the opportunity to test the waters on Sunday 5th Jan.

Rob Briancourt has put a clip on YouTube showing highlights from last weekend’s club boating at the lake.

You can see the Rob's video on YouTube HERE

The evening was then handed over to Frank Banfield and his film show which started with a film about the lifeboat service and their crews in byegone days, followed by a 1935 film illustrating the construction of a SR Class carriage from raw steel and timber to fully finished and ready for service on the Southern Railway. The next film was made in 1979 and was about the 'Merry Go Round' trains that the C.E.G.B used for the continuous supply of coal required by the power stations at that time.

You can see the 'Merry Go Round' film on YouTube HERE


Barnes Wallis was the subject of the next film and it covered his career from his involvement with the R101 airship, Wellington bombers, his famous 'Bouncing Bomb' and his revolutionary 'swept wing' supersonic aircraft designs which the British government of the time abandoned and handed over to the Americans who went on to build the F-111 fighter using some, but not all, of his original designs.


Frank's final film 'Hurry Hurry' was an extract from W.C Fields famous 1941 film 'Never Give A Sucker An Even Break' and featured breathtaking action and stunts that nowadays would only be achieved using 'CGI' and 'Green Screen' film techniques. Evidence that the film stunt men were extremely brave (reckless?) in 1941!

You can see the 'Hurry Hurry' film on YouTube HERE


W.C Fields notoriously had his own view on water and fish but here are some of his famous lines that are clean enough to publish.

 "You can fool some of the people some of the time -- and that's enough to make a decent living"

"Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer"

"Ah, the patter of little feet around the house. There's nothing like having a midget for a butler"


10th January 2020


A visit to the East Anglian Railway Museum – by Clive Reynolds

On 4th December 2019 five members visited the East Anglian Railway Museum at Wakes Colne near Colchester, Essex, to look round their facilities. It was an excellent day and in addition to showing us round the station buildings, signal box, goods shed and museum building Phil, our guide, showed us behind the scenes where the public are denied access including their museum store and archive building. His knowledge of all aspects of the railway was extensive and we all improved our knowledge. We were also able to chat with some volunteers working in the restoration shed on wooden carriage and loco boiler repairs.

The museum is unusual in that it is divided in two by an active passenger carrying line that runs between Marks Tey and Sudbury. Greater Anglia runs trains roughly hourly in each direction which stop at Chappel & Wakes Colne station even though the station is part of the museum! A couple of hundred metres to the south is the impressive Chappel Viaduct – with no less than 32 arches it is the second largest brick built structure in England after Battersea Power Station.

The visit came about because three years ago I visited the East Anglian Railway with my grandchildren on a Thomas the Tank Engine day and looked round their new museum. They had an excellent 5" gauge Claud Hamilton and a 3.5" gauge 4-6-4 tank loco which I’m not sure was a GER loco. However I thought they could do with another GER loco and hence I contacted their Secretary, Mike Stanbury, and sent him a photo of my refurbished B12. I had bought the loco in 2006 for sentimental reasons and had it refurbished by Lynx Model Works some years ago. They did an excellent paint job but unfortunately they discovered a slight seep on the boiler and although it pulls, they advised me it would not get a boiler certificate. The museum was only too pleased to take it on loan for display and although it took nearly 2 years to complete arrangements it is now there for people to see and hopefully enjoy. When I delivered it Mike and his colleagues showed me round and said they would welcome a group visit from our members. All they need now is a B1 and Britannia to boost the 20th century passenger loco stock.


	A view of part of the museum site from the station footbridge. The prominent building is the restored goods shed.
Photo 1.
An 0-6-0 tank engine under restoration. The boiler was undergoing major repairs elsewhere in the shed.
Photo 2.
A museum volunteer, Dave Anderson and Neil Byrne enjoying a chat in front of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Photo 3.
Clive Reynolds inspects his B12 locomotive on display in the museum building.
Photo 4.


1. A view of part of the museum site from the station footbridge. The prominent building is the restored goods shed.

2. An 0-6-0 tank engine under restoration.   The boiler was undergoing major repairs elsewhere in the shed.

3. A museum volunteer, Dave Anderson and Neil Byrne enjoying a chat in front of Thomas the Tank Engine.

4. Clive Reynolds inspects his B12 locomotive on display in the museum building.

EARM Logo 2

Visit the EARM Website :



The club night opened with the Chairman and Secretary's reports and then the EGM to discuss membership fees for 2020.

First of all the proposed increase last year was not implemented.  This was because the gazette had been costing £2000 per annum and after the last gazette there would no longer be that outgoing.  The website has been updated and trial Newsletters discussed to replace the gazette, which has since been a success.

This year an additional proposal was put forward to reduce the hall fee to £2 but combine it with the annual subscription on the basis it would relieve a member from monitoring the hall fee (we still get 2 pence pieces!) get rid of the banking of the money and be a regular income for club funds.  Also it might influence members to come to the club evening  who might decide they would rather keep the hall fee.

Arguments against were some members who did not visit each month might not re-join, members who came to club evenings paid extra for extra benefits and spread the cost fairly.

The membership did not really respond to the option of integrating the hall fee with annual subscriptions and voted to accept the suggested increase of £2 for full and concessionary members.  Leaving the hall fee at £3.00.

Subscriptions will be collected at the January meeting where membership cards for 2020 will be issued.

Any members not present are welcome to comment please email Roy Verden.

2020 subscriptions will be: Full £35, Concessions £33, Juniors £5 and associate £1. 

The 2020 Membership Renewal Form can be downloaded HERE.

Please do not send any subscriptions to the Secretary as he will be on holiday.



Each year the Chairman's Shield is awarded to a club member who has supported the club, always present at our events and in particular John Mills has run the club shop for as long as any of us can remember.

A true club member who gives more than he takes.



Guy Ellerby is an Honorary member as he was Club Chairman for 19 years and did a lot for the society.  Apart from the recognition of services to the club Honorary Members no longer have to pay a yearly subscription.

As Noel Godman said he was a very early member having officially joined in 1949.  Noel also was prominent in the St. Johns ambulance brigade and used to look after us at events, although I don't remember he was ever called to act fortunately  Always a smiling face and helpful in a quiet
unassuming way.  Noel is now just one of two club members who are Honorary members.


He mentioned Ken Simmonds who was before my time but on the committee and it was he who donated the trophy for larger than 2 1/2. gauge locos.  Very keenly contested over in past years as when I joined in 1981 there were around 50 locos owned and built by club members and all in steam, some early members refused to accept boiler testing and having a certificate!  Ian Ferguson has finally made this GWR Freight loco 2-8-0 47XX and it was quite a sight seeing her in steam at the exhibition.  The model keeps alive the trophy and is a worthy winner.


The Best in Show award had the rules stretched a bit but the committee agreed that Guy and Noel with their Thomas re-engineered to run on O gauge rails and operated with switches made a simple exhibit that entranced many young boys and girls and was played with virtually the
whole time of the exhibition.  Both Guy 100+ and Noel 91+ were present both days and told me how much they enjoyed themselves as well.

Roy Verden Nov 2019.


Tony Mason wondered why no one seems to model  Broad Gauge Railways.

His presentation included around 40 slides of locomotives and scenes from this fascinating era.

By contrast there was also film from the cab of a class 222 locomotive running from St Pancras to St Albans earlier this year, in just 17 minutes!


Watch the complete video on YouTube HERE


Ian Ferguson’s 47xx – Maiden Trip

Some of you will have enjoyed the sound of Ian’s newly self-built 5 inch gauge running on a rolling road at this year’s Club Exhibition. So damp weather was ignored and a steam-up at the Puffing Field on Friday 1st November was to be the locomotive’s first actual run.
Ian, a couple of friends, Roger and myself provided assistance with opening up and preparing the track.

As I suspected and as with most newly built model locomotives the start to the run was hesitant.
Initially the sluggish but mighty GWR 2-8-0 was a challenge: keeping steam pressure up and completing a complete circuit was tough and the job of maintaining a good hot fire with a 10 inch firebox needed working out, but even so, progress remained a bit sluggish.

However, after a problem with a stray linkage on one of the cylinder cocks and a dragging tender brake had been fixed the locomotive at last freed up and began to show its paces. 
Ian kindly let me complete a couple of circuits and I can tell you this ‘beast’ is quite something to drive, with its powerful bark and wonderful acceleration.

Well done Ian and we look forward to enjoying the sight and sound of your new creation again at the Puffing Field.

Tony Mason 02.11.19

BIG Show
Models That Move 2019
Society exhibition 2019

A Report By Roy Verden

The Society exhibition came together on the evening of Friday 27th with the models coming in on the Saturday morning.  This year we had an Official opening by Councillor Geoff Harrison. This was to thank him for help given by him to ease our visit to Verulam Park in August.

Councillor Harrison cut the tape and we were officially open.

Visitors paid their entrance fee and received a coloured band to wear as a ticket and immediately saw the RNLI which is the main charity the club supports, we also have donation boxes near the rides for the Wish Tree charity, a local one nearby.

The exhibition again filled the school almost to overflowing and this year due to an adverse forecast we had to plan for wet weather.   We brought into use the picnic tables which are under cover for Live Steam exhibits and the shop into the Gym.

One of the big display items was the Flight Simulator which was a self-contained free standing unit housed outside, nicely placed with covered access, very busy the whole time.

The train rides ever popular were re-arranged to have covered access from a school corridor.  The team were kept busy both days with passengers, who may have got a little damp on Sunday.

Also in that corridor was a new innovation, a 5 inch gauge ground level railway with a 0-4-0 electric loco and driving truck.  Visitors as young as 5 and 6 were given the chance to drive a train while sitting behind it.  This was supervised by the guard who also had an emergency switch to stop the loco if necessary.

Always a queue there!

At the end of the track we had an organ diorama with music playing as wanted.

The double doors lead out to the picnic tables and on show was Ian’s 5 inch gauge GWR 2-8-0 Goods engine which had its’ first steam up on a rolling road, consuming vast quantities of coal and water, a sight to behold.


Tony was also demonstrating on a rolling road some of his collection of steam engines bringing in different ones on Sunday.


Nick had a working steam plant with a stationary engine driving various accessories and we have the promise of a talk about it early next year.


The now, well known, Toyshop steam exhibit belonging to Mike was running effectively as ever this always attracts the younger visitors with the tiny workshops and their machines of a past age.


Rounding the corner and returning into the school we have the large display of Road Vehicles presented by Tamiya Truckers occupying the whole of the dining room area.

Ant and his group were driving loud brightly flashing vehicles on a layout of roads and inclines and an impressive bridge.  While to one side an operating crane and a motorised shovel was loading gravel into trucks.  In another corner was a chance for visitors to run a truck around a short road course using radio control, quite challenging!



Going down an adjacent corridor the first room has a large Garden railway running several trains with a very elaborate countryside and stations, all hoots and puffing noises but electrically powered, and just at the right level for children to view.




Further along and on the left a smaller room but with excellent lighting has the Spithead Review with miniature models of the Royal Navy through time.You could also see how they were constructed on a demo table.


The last three large class rooms were full of Meccano Models and showed the many possibilities of building with Meccano.


Models ranged from a large floating crane through Fairground Rides to clocks, models from the sets and working models for the visitor to operate.


Pride of place was a model of the USS Missouri Battleship a full 9 feet long in appropriate grey and with many working parts.  The model had come up from the South West Meccano Club and was built and exhibited by Steve Briancourt.

There was also another Frank Hornby product, a tinplate ‘O’ gauge railway for visitors to wind up the engines and run them around the track, courtesy of a NLSME member.  Many young visitors had never seen wind-up toys before.  The Chairman of the West London Meccano Society was at the end of the corridor with his large Digger Crane made from Meccano for small fingers.


Returning to view the Gymnasium we have the Luton Model Boat Club with an excellent display of model making at its best with many ships mainly working but also some static. The Plastic Magic area has models that have featured in the Model Boats magazine.  Members were happy to answer questions and chat to visitors.

Nearby was the North London MES with a working 3D printer and the Hanwell club with their exhibits.


A nice end to end model railway on ‘OO’ was run by regulars Steve and his wife Petra and their daughter.

At the far end is the host society, the St. Albans model engineering society with their large stand.

A big feature was the big screen showing recent club activities at The Puffing Field and our stands at other shows.  The video was produced by Rob Briancourt and is most impressive with its content and sharp definition.  There was also a 70 year old clip of the opening of the track the club uses at Chipperfield.

The video can be viewed HERE



The tables carried a display of club models showing all the different interests members have from scale yachts and electric powered boats to locos, vintage toys through to steam engines running on compressed air to the steam boats that they power.



Godfrey had his shovel caterpillar tractor powered by high pressure hydraulic oil heaving an enormous rock up an incline and dropping it.  The noise of which ensured nobody dozed off anywhere!

There were some novelty items to amuse as well.


These included a Thomas the Tank engine that was running up and down, controlled by Guy Ellerby our redoubtable ex-Chairman now having passed 100 years old, and his trusty assistant Noel, a mere stripling in his mid 90’s.  To paraphrase ‘Strictly’  ‘Keep smiling’!

For the inner man or woman there is a very busy newly refurbished catering area where the ladies of the club toiled ceaselessly to provide food and drink to all.

The Main Hall had local clubs from Stevenage and Welwyn and the Moorhen club.


Stevenage had a nice display of radio control items and some of the old electric motors and I/C engines.

The society has a club shop and there were many ‘interesting’ items on sale!

Moorhen club had some larger model boats on a very nice display.


Close by was Richard from the Association of Model Barge Owners with some splendid examples of 1:24 scale Thames Barges.


Welwyn club had some large modern examples of cross channel ferries as well as tiny working models of various ship types.

On the stage were two displays, on the left a Warehouse layout with fork lift trucks loading and unloading crates onto lorries from the storage areas.   Next to it was a gravel grading machine separating different size gravel from the loads supplied by heavy duty lorries.

Down below was the Handley Page society stand.

The Lifeboat Appreciation group had a splendid display of large working RNLI lifeboats with information and photos.


In the corner of the Main Hall, by the door was MidAir. A small group devoted to encouraging flying model aircraft.   Visitors could sit down and with tuition construct a small glider and go out onto the grass outside and test fly it.


Outside was the portable pool that has Have-A-Go radio controlled model boats for young visitors to operate under tuition, very busy on the Saturday, there was some sailing on the Sunday when the weather permitted.



The Flying Field was in operation on the Saturday but intermittent rain and gusting winds curtailed flying on Sunday.

Some hot air balloons were flown at the school entrance but the gusty wind condition prevented them from being flown too high.


Scattered among the halls were opportunities to buy various modelling items including vintage plastic construction kits and toys.

Although this was the worst weather we have ever had for our Model Show it did not dampen the spirits of those present.


The many children visiting on both days were quietly absorbed by all that they saw and did.


We would like to thank all the clubs that participated and without whom the Show could not take place.

Their models were an inspiration to all and must have kindled a few fires with some.  I had many conversations with club members and visitors alike who were very much taken by the scale of the Show and the wide range of models.

We would also like to thank these clubs for the assistance rendered in setting out the 70 odd tables and bringing them back afterwards.

Our visitor numbers were down on last year due to uncertain weather but we still entertained more than 1300 over the two days with many pre-school children coming in for free.

Roy Verden.


Watch the Highlights Video on our YouTube channel HERE

1st Dec 2019

ST Albans MES on Radio Verulam.

Listen to the interview or watch the video HERE

Radio Verulam Interview
September Club Night Report

The September meeting was a little different from the usual club nights as members were invited to bring along any model boats that they would like to be checked out for 'seaworthiness' and to get them running again and discuss problems and solutions with the boats with fellow club members.

To facilitate this the usual theatre style seating arrangement was changed to a more open layout with tables as well as chairs.

Members were also asked to complete a survey to, amongst other things, understand the range of interests members have and their ideas for the club.

And not not forgetting the engineering side, Malcolm has presented the club with a nice new (quiet) compressor and members were given a chance to test and run their engines on compressed air.

Malcolm also gave a talk about some of the engines he has built and mostly designed himself, and his use of a video camera and the halls projector made viewing the detail and operation of his engines so much easier.

A full description of the design and construction of Malcolm's Three Cylinder Engine can be found HERE

Nick Hale brought along his live steam powered exhibit using an old Stuart 405 with four engines. The engines are a Stuart 10V, a Balham Basher which is Nicks own design, and also his design for a beautiful three cylinder single acting marine engine. He is using the Balham Basher to drive an old Trix electric motor as a dynamo. The fourth engine is a little Bowmans twin cylinder marine engine.

Ian Gurton brought along his electronic development prototype for the club Dynamometer Car project to demonstrate. The project is coming along well with the group having regular development meetings.

Brambleton Model Railway Open Day

Saturday 7th September 2019 – a report by Tony Mason

Saturday 7th saw another invasion of the mountainous terrain of Harpenden known as Brambleton.

Roger Stephen had recruited at least four committee members and other willing workers from our Club to have a final push selling our Exhibition to members of the public and their children.

Two tents were quickly erected and 'exhibits-that-move' placed on tables.

Fireboxes were filled with fuel and before long glowing coal could be seen. Soon the air was filled with steam puffing from chimneys.


And so it was for nearly four hours during which over 700 of our leaflets were pressed into the hands of Mum’s, Dad’s and eager children’s hands.

We had proved you don’t need a printed circuit to create joy with juniors and parents were assured that a visit to our annual Expo would guarantee to exhaust their children once again.

What more can we do for mankind?


Finally I should point out that the main event at Brambleton was their ‘0’ gauge layouts and garden scale narrow gauge layouts which stretched as far as you could see.

Great cakes, savouries and beverages were sold too. 391 adults, 351 children had visited and earned the show £2231.

Well done those Brambeltonians and may you continue to prosper.

Tony Mason, Sept 2019.

The Brambleton MRC website can be found here:




August Bank Holiday at Verulamium Park

With clear blue skies and temperatures forecasted to be in the low thirties August Bank Holiday at Verulamium Park was guaranteed to be packed with families and children making the most of the ‘Splash’ water park and the Fun Fair and as in previous years the club had a fine display of model boats and steam engines and the portable track to give rides to the visiting adults and children.

  • Dry Boating Lake

As soon as Clive arrived with the truck all the members that volunteered to help out on the day immediately set about unloading and erecting the track, gazebos and exhibits.

By 11:00 am everything was set up and after a test run the track was declared ready while a queue of eager passengers were already awaiting a ride behind the club locomotive ‘Alice’.

The club electric loco was on standby but Alice performed her duties flawlessly throughout the day giving rides to at least 250 passengers young and old and raising some generous donations from the public to help fund the cost of the day.

Meanwhile the displays under the gazebos attracted a lot of interest and included Mike Grossman’s Toy Steam Workshop display, David Brown’s Stirling Engine, Tony Mason with Alan Holt’s steam tug ‘Resolve’, Malcolm Beak brought some of his small steam plant models and ‘Cyril’ a steam powered boat, one of Roy Verden’s many sailing boats and Rob Briancourt’s Thames River Police Launch were on show too.

Unlike previous years it was not possible to operate any model boats on the boating lake owing to the severely depleted water level, this is very sad because running the ‘Have-A Go’ boats and members own models for the enjoyment of the children has always been a very popular aspect of our presence on this public holiday, and so a great opportunity to engage with young and old who have an interest in model boating has been lost.

Nevertheless, taking the opportunity to promote the Summer Exhibition, a great number of flyers were handed out to prospective visitors many of whom had previously attended our show and intended to return this year.

By 4pm everyone, apart from ‘Alice’, had run out of steam and the last of the happy passengers had their ride, and so the track and displays were dismantled and loaded back onto the truck.

And so other successful event to promote the club and its activities ended.

A big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who turned out to help on the day.



August Club Night Report

Where can we sail our model boats?

Some Alternatives

The August club night was an opportunity to tell the members about the offer of an alternative sailing location which is urgently needed because of the present dire condition of the Verulam Park boating lake.

Roger Stephen gave a short talk with slides to show how bad the St Albans lake is and the prospect of it being some time before it could be usable again and then he spoke about an alternative location in Kings Langley which is used by the local angling society who are offering the club the use of one of their smaller lakes.

The great advantage of this location is that the lakes there are always completely full as they are part of the course of the River Gade and equally important, the lake is kept completely weed free.

A good show of hands seemed to imply that this met with some approval by those present but the matter will be put to the members at the September club night in more detail and with further discussion.


"The Belles of Belfast"

The guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Rudi Newman who gave a talk entitled 'The Belles of Belfast" all about the White Star 'Olympic Class' liners and featured the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic.

Rudi has given talks to the club on previous occasions, the last being about the R101 and Hindenburg air ships, and his talks are always most interesting and informative and this talk was no exception.

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912 after the ship struck an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it one of modern history's deadliest peacetime commercial marine disasters.

RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time she entered service and was the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line.

She was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Thomas Andrews, chief naval architect of the shipyard at the time, died in the disaster. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)


Summer BBQ at the Puffing Park


Sunday 11th August was the day of the annual BBQ and despite the changeable weather forecast the attendance was very good.

Happily the the weather stayed dry and warm and was ideal BBQ weather with everybody taking advantage of the BBQ grills to prepare their food.

Roger Stephen with his steam loco 'Princess Marina' and Clive Reynolds on the club'e electric loco 'Joyce' gave rides to club members and visitors young and old.

Other engines, both steam and electric were also run for everyone's enjoyment and the even neighbours from the adjoining properties came along and had train rides around the park.


Puffing Park 70th graphic 2
July club night at the Puffing Park

The July club night was held at the Puffing Park at Chipperfield in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the opening of the track in July 1949.

There was a very good turnout of club members from past and present, many attending with their partners and family members.


The club provided a very decent spread of sandwiches and snacks and a rather large and calorific chocolate cake, all served by the lovely lady wives of the committe and consumed by the members with much enthusiasm.

Thank you ladies !

Although not present at the event Guy Ellerby was honoured by the installation of the brass name plate presented to him in celebration of his centenary birthday and this now adorns one of the steaming bays in the very good company of previously celebrated members.







Roger Stephen brought along his Princess Marina to run on the track with some members as passengers and Mike Grossman was in charge of the clubs electric loco.







All agreed that it was a very pleasant occasion on a warm July evening.

The next event at the Puffing Park will be the Club BBQ on Sunday 11th August.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Please scroll down to see the CRICH report
A visit to The Postal Museum
Wednesday 26th June saw an outing to The Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant, London.


The group met at the welcome space to be greeted by Kevin Gray, the retired colleague of a club member now working as a guide at the museum. Kevin gave the group a brief history of the area including how it became to be known as 'Mount Pleasant'.

The first part of our visit took us to the 'Mail Rail' part of the museum and the group boarded one of the two trains that take visitors on a 15 minute ride around a loop of track beneath the local area.

The train stops at various points along the route where some very impressive audiovisual displays show the history of the railway and describe its use throughout its service life. It's remarkable to consider that this system was the very first automatic and driverless railway system in the world at the time it was constructed and nothing else like it was built until 40 years after it's construction.

Returning to the Postal Museum the group were given a couple of 'Pop Up' talks by Kevin on the history of the postal service from its earliest years to the formation of the Royal Mail, and another talk about the brave men that formed a postal service during the war years to bring mail to the troops at the front lines and return with letters for loved ones at home.
The group then spent the remainder of the visit touring the various galleries and exhibits in the musem at their leisure.

Club Outing to the National Tramway Museum – Crich   June 23rdA Report by Tony Mason


The collapse in popularity of Trams started as early as the 1920’s and they finally disappeared from our streets , with one or two exceptions, in the 1950’s. The consequent availability of time expired Trams stimulated enthusiasts to save them and restore them, rather in the same way as the Narrow Gauge movement of the same time.

Crich, or ‘Kriche’, as the locals pronounce it, is a sleepy location in Derbyshire. Just south of the Peak District the tramway is on the site of a mining works’ and it’s incline, engineered by George Stephenson himself. Apart from working trams on the incline and the quarter of a mile of tramway with it’s four passing places there are many other attractions. These include a Learning Centre, a Workshop Viewing Gallery, Tram Depot and a Discovery Depot. The entire collection consists of some eighty trams in varying states of preservation with many of them in excellent working order. The standard of restoration is very high and we were fortunate to have a conducted tour round the Workshop conducted by a technical manager who could answer our many questions. The standard of restoration was superb doing great justice to these fascinating machines. Well done!

This is one of the latest projects being undertaken in the workshop. It is in fact the very last tram built by the LCC (London County Council) in 1933. The London Tram fleet, along with all the other transport facilities was passed over to London Transport in 1933.
Restoration is to the original LCC livery. The picture shows the tram in the Workshop and some of our members are climbing aboard to view the high quality of the restoration




Surely one of the most elegant restorations in the Crich collection. The car numbered 159 was built in 1902 and became a member of the LUT ‘W’ class. It ran until 1921 when it became the home to a couple in Ewhurst Green, remaining with them for 55 years! It was restored over a seven year period to the highest standards in its original London United Electric Tramways livery.



106 is a London County Council ‘B’ Class tramcar dating back to 1903. It is open-top , four-wheeled and built by Dick-Kerr. The trams were too small to handle London traffic and many were sold off to other operators while the remainder were used during peak hours. The last of the class ran in 1925. 106 was restored between 1971 and 1983 by the London County Council Tramways Trust and presented to the National Tramway Museum and is pictured here in the Tram Depot.

Portugal is famous for its Trams, in fact they can still be seen today in Oporto and Lisbon. 273 was restored to post-war Oporto ochre after acquisition in 1996. These trams are closely related to the American Streetcar and restoration was aided with monies from the Heritage Lottery Fun. Photographed during Club’s visit the children and dogs shows what a relaxed and all-embracing place the Crich Tramway is.


While members of the Club crowd onto  the LCC tram they hardly noticed the lovely presentation and restoration of this, the second tram to arrive at Crich. This one was from Leeds and started its career there in 1926 and retired from in 1951. It was used on steep gradient routes being fitted with air braking for the steep hilly routes around Beeston.







Blackpool can hardly be avoided in a collection of trams. 167 dates back to 1928 when it was purchased from the English Electric Company in Preston. Note the luxury of a clerestory roof and the elegant pantograph. It came to Crich in 1962 and was restored by
Smithills, Bolton so it could participate in the Blackpool Tramway Centenary in 1985, since when it has represented its owners, the National Collection at other similar venues.



The trip was organised by Mike Grossmith and while the ratio of travel time to visit time was a little high it was well worth the journey and great value.

Thank you Mike.


June 2019 Club Night report

Club members turned out in numbers to join in celebration of Guy Ellerby's 100th birthday when he was presented with a birthday card signed by the members and an engraved name plate that will adorn one of the steaming bays at the Puffing Park.

A deciciously fruity birthday cake was made by Malcolm Beak for this very special occasion and it was enjoyed by the members during the refreshment break.




The guest speaker for the evening was Richard Thomas from the Black Country Living Museum who gave a very entertaining and animated talk about 'President' a Fellows, Morton & Clayton steam powered narrowboat.

The 71 feet (22 m) long President was constructed in 1909 at FMC's company dock in Saltley, and cost £600. She was registered on 23 June that year. Her riveted, wrought iron hull is shaped in the 'Josher' style, named for FMC director Joshua Fellows.

President was bought by the Black Country Living Museum in January 1983. During the year both boats leave the museum and travel around the inland waterways attending various events and rallies promoting the Black Country Living Museum and the inland waterways in general.

More information on President and The Black Country Living Museum can be found here.

Brambleton Model Railway Show Report

Brambleton Model Railway Show Saturday 11th May 2019 – A report by Roger Stephen and Tony Mason


We were invited by Alan Day to join the event in order to promote our exhibition. The venue was located just north of Harpenden and intriguingly adjacent to the site of the disused railway line from Harpenden to Hemel Hempstead. The models on show were a mixture of ‘O’ gauge and 16mm Garden scale. All the trains were remote controlled by ‘drivers’ who used both radio control and two rail electric supply. The system meant that the trains ran continually throughout an afternoon which lasted from 2pm to 5.30pm. The clientele were enchanted and very much fitted the profile of our own exhibition.

The Brambleton members seem to be a very friendly and helpful lot and they provided suitable transport to get our heavy stuff from the cars outside to where our gazebo went, and back again at the end of the day. Alan Day arranged this in a truck measuring approx 7’ 6” by 4’ 6”, sides about 1’ high which could take up to about 500kg. He said he is happy to use it to transport stuff if ever we need to, either with him towing it or by lending it to a member with a tow bar. I think it would be fine for events not needing the track, like Oaklands, but I would not recommend trying to load it with the portable track, station timbers, accessory boxes (wood packing, buffers, etc), passenger car, guard’s truck, and driving truck. Even without a gazebo that would be too much. Worth remembering his offer though. Members who attended and brought models were Roy Verden, Roger Stephen, Tony Mason, Jack Green, Chris Scivyer and Malcolm Beak.

As for the Brambleton open day itself, Alan Day says they had well over 1,000 people paying to get in (Adults £2:50, Children £1:50). I can believe that – the place was buzzing by 3pm. If one assumes the average family was mum, dad and two kids, that would be a ticket income of over £2,000 for a single afternoon. Their refreshment tent seemed to be doing good business too, charging £1:20 for a hot dog (with onions and ketchup/mustard) and fizzy drinks in cans at 80p. They probably turned over a total of around £3,000 on the day. I think it would be worth looking into how they publicise their open days. If you Google “Brambleton Open Day 2019” you get their website plus several social media sites, notably;

Whatever they do, it seems to work.

Having the steam workshop on a table in front of the gazebo was fine but the three tables in the gazebo was not ideal - we wanted them under cover because of the forecast showers and ended up with rather restricted access to them. The wall panel at the back was OK but with hindsight, and the lack of showers as it turned out, we could have taken down the single side wall panel we had. We live and learn! Alan Day kindly returned the kit to the Puffing Field the next morning in his trailer.

Their next open day is on Saturday 7th September. That’s just three weeks before our own exhibition and obviously a great opportunity to hand out exhibition flyers. Alan Day is very keen for us to have a stand again and is desperate to have a bit of 5” gauge track there, even if it is only a short length (like 10 to 20 feet) for us to demonstrate a loco on. I did not promise that! Given that they attract a large number of families (which must be our target audience?) I think we should definitely have a stand there in September.

The Brambleton MRC website can be found here:


May 2019 Club Night report

The May club night commenced with the usual club business from Clive and Roy and this was followed by a short talk by Mike Collins about the proposed Dynamometer project.

Members were invited to be involved in the project and a special meeting for those taking an interest has been arranged and will meet at Clive's house on Wednesday 15th May @ 10.30 am

Mike's talk was followed by the main speaker for the evening.

Chris Scivyer is a club member who also has a special interest in aviation and his talk was titled 'A Tour of Airfields and Museums In and Around Moscow'

His talk covered his trip to Moscow in 2003 and visits to :
-  Four airports around Moscow
- The 2003 Moscow Airshow
- Star City (Russian Cosmonauts training)
- Several plants reworking old Russian aircraft and helicopters
- Three private airfields
- Three aircraft museums
His illustrated talk gave a very interesting insight into the Russian Military and Commercial aviation industry which has not been noted for its safety record in recent years.

During the refreshment break club members inspected a demonstration model of a 'RetroReflector' by David Brown.

It was made from a discarded mirror that David acquired and he had the pieces cut by a glazier.

It serves to illustrate the principles of the Lunar Laser Ranging Exper