This was our third consecutive appearance trading at the annual show held by Burgess Hill MRC, our stall this year being in the gymnasium of the Burgess Hill School For Girls. The school was going through a period of change with some re-building and alterations in progress, the Model Railway Club being concerned that this could have led to the show not being up to their usual standards. They needn’t have worried.

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Being a one-day show this event attracts some of the smaller layouts on a more manageable scale, layouts that can be built and run by an individual at home as well as by a group in a club house and usually depicting a compact setting rather than a main line diorama. ORESTONE QUAY simply displayed a quayside tramway in the old Southern Railway days, no main line trains whizzing through here, just a plodding loco with a few trucks. BATCOMBE with it’s one platform terminus bringing in non-existent holiday makers into a dead-on-it’s-feet resort somewhere on the Dorset coast was another example, while EARLS COURT depicted a ‘what might have been’ scenario had the West London Line been given a branch to this destination. Again, a simple layout with just the rail terminus playing host to local trains.

The larger layouts in attendance were actually on a on a smaller scale, notably ‘N’ gauge and therefore able to depict a wider scene in a smaller space as well as being quicker and easier to set up.

As with all model railway shows and bus rallies we trade at the welcome and assistance given to Gina and myself was second to none and we extend our gratitude to Burgess Hill Model Railway Club for putting on a good show, we look forward to seeing them again in 2015.

For details of the Burgess Hill Model Railway Club and their activities visit http://www.burgesshillmrc.org.uk

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New Routemaster

New Routemaster

It would seem that you either love it or hate it. The new bus for London, now officially called the New Routemaster, is wonderful. As far as I’m concerned, it was love at first sight and that was just the initial article in one of the bus magazines!

A trip to London when they first came into service on route 38 to Hackney resulted in me waiting for 4 buses to depart Victoria before it was the turn of the Borismaster. Decision time: front door or rear platform? No choice. The pole and the platform won. And those lovely curved stairs – no falling backwards if the driver takes off before I’ve found a seat, the curvature of the bodywork allows me to lean against it. The glazed panel at the rear left me wondering what sort of view passers by and motorists behind the bus would get if I was wearing a short skirt, but the designers had got it right, that which should be covered was covered!

The upper deck seemed a little claustrophobic but maybe that was because the windows appeared a little smaller than those of most modern buses. I didn’t care, the seats were so comfortable and your bottom didn’t slide from one side to other as the bus cornered! I settled in for the ride.

Riding about on the top deck of a bus is one of the most enjoyable ways to sight see in London. I appreciate that this was not the middle of summer when the air conditioning broke down on several buses and it was not the height of rush hour so I had a more relaxed experience than some, but there are those who only need a small incident to condemn anything new.

Let’s not forget that with any new vehicle there will be teething problems regardless of the amount of pre-release testing that has been done. Once a bus enters service it is subject to the rigorous testing of the general public. What is important is that the problems are rectified and all comments from the fare paying public taken into account for the continued improvement of the vehicle. Even the tried and trusted Routemaster which came into service 60 years ago suffered its share of teething problems but it survived to become an iconic sight on the streets of London, with some still running in service, albeit with a few modifications to keep the health and safety elves happy.

We have the New Routemaster, designated LT. Made in Belfast it is a true British bus and it’s here to stay. Thank you Boris Johnson for having the courage to see the project through. I hope other operators see the merits of this vehicle and incorporate it in their fleets but, for now, London has another icon in the making.