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 Experiment 

'Retroreflectors have been left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts to reflect lasers from Earth so that scientists can measure the moon's distance with millimetre precision. We now know that the moon is receding at about 37 mm per year. If you look at the centre you will see an upside-down mirror image of yourself regardless of your position. The ones on the moon are glass prisms made very accurately and each panel contains many prisms. If you put your hand or anything in the centre you will see seven reflections, 3 single, 3 double and one triple'

The first StAlbansMES Newsletter has been published, registered club members can view and download it HERE

April 2019 Club Night & AGM Report

The April club night commenced with Annual General Meeting with the minutes of the last meeting read by Roy Verden, the election of Committee members and the financial report by Mike Grossmith.

The chairman then gave his report for 2018/2019

Read the full Chairmans Report Here


With the business of the AGM concluded the members enjoyed 'tea and buscuits' while viewing and discussing the projects and models brought to the meeting by fellow members.

The red truck in the last 'photo will form the basis of a 'Dynamometer' project that some members will be working on during the forthcoming year.

12th April.

 March 2019 Club Night Report

The March club meeting was also Auction Night and there was a good turnout of members and a good selection of auction lots!

Peter Haycock in action

Hammers under the hammer









From our Chairman:

Thanks to all those who provided an assortment of items for sale at our auction last night.  Thanks also to all those who put their hands in their pockets thereby putting £229.80 into club funds.

It was, as usual, an entertaining evening thanks to our excellent auctioneer Peter Haycock.  Thanks to Peter,  Ian Gurton who kept the books and Malcolm Beak who undertook the role of porter.


Am I bid ANYTHING for this garden strimmer?

Sadly the garden strimmer attracted no bids and remains unsold !



Don't worry readers, you'll get another chance to buy it from the club shop at the annual exhibition in September!


14th March 2019

 February 2019 Club Night Report

The club was delighted to host a talk by Ant and Mike Pritchard from the Tamiya Truckin' group.

The duo described and demonstrated the Tamiya models that they construct and operate, many of which are customised with special lighting and sound units, the latter are able to authenticaly re-create all of the starting and running sounds of the real trucks and construction vehicles.

During the refreshment break the club members closely inspected the models that Ant and Mike brought to show and many interesting questions were asked and comprehensively answered by Ant and Mike and their father Ted who was present and is also a member of the Tamiya Truckers.

The Tamiya Truckers are regular exhibitors at our Annual Exhibition and occupy an entire hall with their layout. They also exhibit at all the major model exhibitions in the UK and are an extremely popular attraction for young model makers at all the shows.

A video of the talk can be viewed on our YouTube channel..... or play it in the window here.


Tamiya Truckers talk
January 2019 Club Night report

At the January club night the Chairman presented two awards.

The first was the Hugh Beardwell trophy which is awarded to the best display by a club member at our exhibition.


This year this was awarded to Bill Langton and Terry Wybrow for putting together our club stand.  The stand was the best for some years and displayed the  society’s heritage.


The second award was the Chairman’s shield.  This is awarded to recognise a member’s exceptional dedication to the society.

This year it was awarded to our gazette editor Tony Mason

Tony has been involved with the editing of the gazette for 15 years.  He assisted Roger Stephen during his term as editor and undertook a lead role advising and assisting  Michelle Hysom during her term.  Over the last few years Tony produced the gazette single handed and developed it into the excellent journal we have all enjoyed.


Ian Gurton brought along a couple of his Arduino Mini-Bots to show to members, these were to be seen scurrying around following guide lines and trying to avoid each other.

Ian will be exhibiting these at the Alexandra Palace show later in January.

Mini Bots

The awards presentations were followed by a film Show presented by Frank Banfield and included some facinating vintage films depicting maritime and railway history, his show also included a selection of short cartoon films including one of our all time favourites.......Roadrunner & Wile E.Coyote....Beep Beep.

That's All Folks ! 

Merry Xmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our members !

The December club meeting is also the annual Christmas party and the evening was well attended by members, some accompanied by their 'better halves'.



The highlight of the evening was a 'Magic Lantern' show given by Terry Summers, ably assisted by his daughter Kate Barlow.

Terry brought a selection of vintage slide and filmstrip projectors from his extensive personal collection along with a selection of still and amimated slides ranging from simple amusing cartoon images to elaborate animated 'stories' based on childrens tales from byegone years.


On a more sobering note Terry showed his audience a filmstrip produced by the Governments 'Civil Defence Corps' in the early sixties to illustrate the potency of the post war atomic weapons and the consequences of their use in populated areas. A chilling reminder of the threat of nuclear war at the time.

On a lighter note Terry's very entertaining show was followed by a refreshments break of festive treats and cakes (delicious cake Malcolm!)  and lashings of beverages of choice.




Party Time!

Terry also brough an interesting selection of 'home entertainment' that the Victorians enjoyed including a Zeotrope, stereoscopic viewers, kaliedescopes and music boxes.


Rob Briancourt  19th December

St.Albans DMES now on YouTube !

The St Albans & District Model Engineering society now has its own YouTube channel where the club will be able to show videos of the Club Exhibition, members models in action, club events and activities.


So if any members have a video of their engineering masterpieces that they have taken, and thus have copyright, and are willing to show it to a wider audience please email and let me know.

If your video needs 'tidying up' and perhaps a title and captions I can add them too! 

So dig out those videos, or better still, dig out that digital video camera and take some new ones and get them to me.

Click on the YouTube button above to go to the clubs YouTube Channel.

Rob Briancourt.

27th November 2018

The Club EGM, 14th November 2018

At the club's EGM on 14th November the members attending voted for an increase in the club subscription fee of £2 per member across the board so the standard fee will be £35 and £32 for concessions.

The junior members fee remains at £17

It was also announced that the Gazette will not be printed and posted to members after April 2019 but will be available for viewing or download from the new club website, also to be launched in April 2019.

The Gazette will also be emailed to all members in the form of a .pdf attachment that can be read on-screen or printed by the member.

This is to eliminate the printing and postal costs which total £2,000 per annum, a considerable burden on club funds.

The EGM was followed by a very interesting talk by Tony Mason about the historical landmarks and features of the City of St.Albans, it was interesting to look at 'photos from byegone years and identify their location and then look at how the appear (or not) in todays city.


The next Club event in the calendar is the Club Christmas Party on December 12th where you will be entertained by a ''Magic Lantern' show by Terry Summers.

The will be cakes and drinks too! (cake provided....bring your own drinks!)


Club Exhibition.

The weekend of 29/30th September saw yet another successful exhibition for the club.

Attendance on both days was higher that expected much due to the efforts of the committee to publicise the event as widely as possible, and the warm sunny weather on both days made for a very pleasant experience for visitors ans exhibitors alike.

Roy Verden gave the visiting Duputy Mayor of St Albans, Councillor Brian Gibbard a guided tour of the exhibition.

As popular as always were the have-a-go boats and the steam train rides.


Here's a quick view of some of the exhibition features.


The cafeteria also did a roaring trade in meals and refreshments thanks to the lady wives of club members who worked tirelessly throughout the day.