St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

Picnic Sunday at the Puffing Park

Picnic Sunday at the Puffing Park

Sunday 14th August 2022.

We had an excellent turnout and so nice to see very young children come along. We had been warned about the extreme heat and taking precautions but I think we had the heat beaten with gazebos under the shade of the trees and a gentle breeze. It was lively conversation and some hellos between members who had lost touch.

Now we were there for our summer BBQ which had to be reassessed due to the possible fire hazards and so we decided a picnic was a very agreeable choice. However this year is also our 75 th anniversary which we thought well worth celebrating.


The team building the Gauge 1 and 32mm gauge train track managed to schedule their work to meet this deadline for the opening of the track to coincide with our anniversary. There is still work to be done with a few points (turnouts to some) that need to be fitted but as in all model railways they are never really finished.
The work has been completed in good time and under budget! Considering all that was working against them: Covid and then winter etc it was team work that achieved the result.

Mike Grossmith had started the build and then handed over to Michael Watts. His team decided to have another look at the requirements and have come up with a very presentable track. The wider section will accommodate operating and steaming up sidings so this will not interfere with main line working.
The double track winds nicely into the trees and there is about a 100 foot run in all. The design chosen also means that should we have to vacate the premises we can take it with us!
Come the moment of opening, Michael had a loco in steam and within 5 minutes all those present gathered around for official the opening. It was fitting that Guy Ellerby, a previous Chairman, now an Honorary member and also our oldest member at 103 was also a G1 fan should be called upon to officially open the track for use.

Guy said a few words about the team who put it all together and the way this brings members together and then the tape was cut and the opening train went off on its journey.

See a video of the official opening HERE

Our thanks to Martin Deane for making the video.

The next train crashed! Oops! Something to do with setting the points incorrectly I think, various hands from the sky assisted and then all was well. Trains were running all afternoon and I noted a lovely clockwork O gauge loco made short shrift of the long run of track.

There were electric locos and trains radio control was dodgy with one loco but that can be sorted with expertise from within the club. There were some happy train enthusiasts and of course we welcome others to join us.
One excuse fielded by a friend of the club was that he had to attend his wife’s wedding anniversary !
Several members came and said to me how successful the project was and such an enjoyable afternoon as well.
I agree it was a great way to spend the afternoon and new member Frank asked about flying drones, well of course he could, the Puffing Field is for the use of members, then Rob confessed he just happened to have one with him as well…..
But around 5 we slowly dispersed, off to our much hotter homes etc. Nothing is perfect but the Puffing Field was definitely the best place to be on the day!

Thanks as always to the team that look after the Puffing Field, it is a credit to the society.

We do need to get more membership use from the facility and the committee hope that the new G1 / 32 mm. track will be part of this.

Roy Verden