St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

The BIG StAlbans Model Show 2022

Show report by Roy Verden.

Our Big Model Show.

First of all it was a lot of hard work by a lot of people in the background and also just like the swan on the lake.  On the surface it all came together in a relaxed way, but Oh! Boy were we paddling like Billy Oh out of sight under the water!  This show could only be put on by volunteers as the man power that makes it work is too expensive as a commercial venture.

There is a lovely remark in the Newsletter from a delighted visitor, "You turned the whole school into a massive playground". So Job Done!

Well, from my point of view I had stuck my neck out early on and said that I did not want the enormous expense of advertising in the newspapers. I crossed my fingers and hoped!  Into the mix came our Chairman's 2 daughters who guided us into the great unknown of social media, I was briefed with what was done and I hoped and trusted it would work. The queues outside justified our trust. Great job, well done, Abigale and Hannah.

We had also invested in card payment machines and two thirds of the money taken was using cards, we had planned for it but Guy Keen implemented it.  We shall keep on using them for club transactions.

It is very difficult to present this kind of show in a way that makes it look different each year and so Mike Grossmith and myself said we would move things around a bit and as we had another large room as well some re-planning was necessary anyway.

Saturday dawned, and up with the lark or was it the beeps of the news on the radio? My stuff was already partly loaded and I finished that and went to pick up our oldest member Guy Ellerby and we arrived at the school to find that many others had actually heard the lark!

I concentrated with Guy Keen on our own stand and we had a first go at the layout and as I predicted we had more models than we expected, I am not complaining. Other clubs were setting to with a vengeance and suddenly it was nearly 10 o/clock!  I had invited a representative from the council and we had the Deputy Mayor Councillor Syed Abidi coming to see us. I ended up escorting him around the show due to our Chairman having dividing himself into several small pieces and then making a 'Management decision' that all was well and leaving us to it.

(There is a rumour going round that he is a frustrated German tank commander and judging by his own admission of the destruction of other tanks there was some kind of Blitzkrieg in progress outside).

The Deputy Mayor was impressed by our efforts and other clubs and societies in coming together with such common interest and filling the school in the process. After showing him the rooms in the school we went outside and he had to have a train ride, so I got on as well. Then there was the queue waiting to have a go on the radio controlled boats on the pond, our Deputy Mayor was really taken aback by the wide interests on show for all to see. After more chatting with club members I invited him into the cafe area and we had a very friendly chat over a cup of tea and then he reluctantly departed.

I had a good look around the other rooms, it was crowded with visitors, good news but will it be a flash in the pan one day thing?  The old standbys like the Luton, Stevenage and Welwyn clubs were there and clearly enjoying themselves.  Now I am prejudiced and one of my favourites was on the stage in the main hall with the fork lift trucks which now had a railway and a digger and I wanted to join with the little ones and just watch what was happening.

I was pleased to see that Luton were building a model boat on their stand and Welwyn had a very popular demonstration table and Stevenage were actively selling modelling bits and pieces.  Our own shop was very busy as well.

At the other end, the Tamiya Truck Group were well away with their layout of roads and a bridge with other interests as well as a self-drive truck experience and I think I saw more diggers.

The Yellow Train championed by yours truly from last time when I heard that two members between them had an indoor track and the other a redundant electric train which happens to be yellow. This was very popular with the little ones.

It was clear that we were almost overwhelmed by visitors with over a thousand tickets sold on the first day that we needed reinforcements. And thinking 'reinforcements' the man to go to was our intrepid Panzer Tank Commander, who sent out an all persons bulletin to all members to attend if possible!  I am not sure about defending and fighting heroically to the death bit though, still that is tank commanders for you!

I left exhausted about 6pm and arrived home happy but tired, I fell asleep during Strictly and gave up and went to bed at 8:45!  This meant I woke up at 5 the next morning. I was not happy! Something was wrong with the exhibition and I gradually teased it out.

We had to remove a poorly supported stand (due to illness) from the large room adjoining the main hall.  This would ease the flow of foot traffic and allow better access to the Garden railway and also enable some resting seats to be available. Also a conversation with Mike J. had me move the Yellow train into the Maths room corridor which is also wider. This had the added benefit of increasing footfalls to the Meccano rooms.

We also had a bit of a re-vamp to our club stand which increased interest. That was all done before we opened up on Sunday morning to our still queuing visitors!  The day continued much the same as before loads of happy parents, remember the equation: - Happy child = Happy Mum!

One stand I have not mentioned was the ‘make an airplane’ one, we had agreed to help in manning this stand as Steve, the provider, was not as full of energy as he once was!  Subsequent emails from him say he had a great time and thanked our members for making it such a pleasant visit.  It seems we topped his previous record with over 200 models made by the visitors.

I ended up time-sharing myself between the club stand and shop so another busy day.  I did not get out to see the flying as previously we had been told by two other clubs that it was not possible in the short time frame we had after Covid to get things done.  However a late offer from Luton club seems to have found some flyers and I am sorry I missed them.

The media seemed to be full of happy tweeters (whatever that is)?  Our 'Guy the younger' spent a lot of time selling tickets while others of us kept the club stand manned.  It was nice to break at lunch for a ploughmans and those ladies worked so hard to keep everything going I take my hat off to them!  Nice to just have a little peace and happiness turned out for me to be gazing out the window and watching a continuous queue waiting to come in.

It all got quiet around 5pm and we started to think about packing up, all our exhibitors co-operated by getting the tables outside for later collection but there were still things to do and only a few left to do them, but eventually all was done. We thanked the Site Manager in the 'usual way' and he did the extra clearing up so the school was ready to go on the Monday.

Subsequent happy emails over the following week confirmed that we all had a good time and everyone is ready to do it again next year. Thanks go out to all the members who made it happen, the reward is the smiling faces of the young ones, we may have set some young memories up that will live to outlast many of us.

Regards to all.