On the 2nd December 2007, the Wiveliscombe model railway layout completed it's ultimate accolade. Having been in model railway exhibitions circles for nearly 15 years, the layout was finally booked to appear (2 years in advance) at the Warley Model Railway Exhibition (Birmingham NEC) on the 1st&2nd December 2007. The show is the biggest in the country, and is held at the NEC for obvious reasons. The railway exhibition attracts thousands of people over the two days it's held each year. The NEC gives good access from the M42/M6 and by Rail / Air. To give an idea of just how many people flock to such an event here are some of the issues which were faced during the 2007 show.During Saturday crowds emptied every cash machine in the NEC, people were being directed to the Airport and Station to try their luck there. N Gauge Hymeks were launched and sold out. Bachman also sold out of their 9F Steam Locomotives in one day, and had to get more stock in for Sunday. A large open space was created inside the hall for people to queue, as in 2006 they blocked up the internal corridors of the NEC. Queues to get out of the exhibitors car park alone took hours to clear.
When Wiveliscombe first started out. It was transported in cars, on roof racks and trailers. As the years progressed and the layout grew and longer distances dictated that two large trailers were required. From there it's now only possible to transport the entire layout in a transit van. So it's thanks the Thrifty Van rentals for the Warley visit! One additional element to the construction phase of the model railway layout at Warley was earthing wires, and all electrics needing to be tested prior to us being able to operate. Strict guidelines had to be followed before anyone could start 'playing trains'The basis framework of the underside can be seen being assembled by two of Wiveliscombe's founder members. It's worth noting that Wivi is an entirely independent Model Railway Layout, it's NOT a club layout.
Someone looks rather pleased with themselves. With the main underside/ framework assembled the layout section have been removed from their storage boxes in the van, and are positioned ready to be lifted onto the base framework. The rest of the work site resembled a bomb site at this point. At Warley it's only possible to park up the van next to your layout for 1 hour, by which time it has to be fully unloaded and moved outside to the secure parking areas.
'The awning after the night before' It's not uncommon for Wiveliscombe to draft in additional help/ drivers for a weekend, depending on who we have available. However when Freightliner Intermodal offered us a driver we jumped at the chance! This helpful chap turned up with umpteen bags of stock, and offered his services for the weekend, despite being under the weather. This man was also to blame for some serious headaches next morning in the hotel. Wiveliscombe has it's very own station canopy which splits down into three sections to allow it to be transported. This is one of the side sections which bolts back to the frame before receiving the front Wiveliscombe name board.
With the front section of Wivi not installed, the attention is turned to the rear fiddle yard. The main fiddle yard is house on two household doors which fold together. The linking arm sections at each end are constructed from 1/2 a household door. All link together to form a complete circular route around the layout.The rear fiddle yard section is also supported on three collapsible teasels which are equally spaced along it's length. Packing/ leveling is rarely required, unless the floor is very uneven!
'Job Done' On the Friday night in just 1.5 hrs the entire layout is up and ready to use. The proud team pose for a quick photo prior to retiring to a hotel in Coventry, a meal and then a long night in the hotel bar.(Well us younger members!)
The next morning the full operations team are assembled for a photo call before the crowds arrive.


Warley gathers some large crowds, so all layouts are spaced away from barriers. This prevents any damage to the layouts, but also provides a better view for those lined up on the viewing side. A local DMU service can be seen departing to Taunton as people look on. The layout also incorporates from of the actual images which have been donated to us over the years. These have been digitally printed and are displayed at either end of the layout for people to view. This also gives a good comparison between what existed at Wiveliscombe and the model equivalent.
It's not uncommon at some exhibitions for additional stock, and locomotives to be used on the layout. Warley was no exception, with 75% of our own stock never even making it out of the box. Here a scratch/ hand built T9 stops at Wiveliscombe with a Barnstaple bound stopping service, while an eastbound parcels heads for Taunton.
Warley always produces a few famous faces. Railway Magazine Editors, Train Operating Company Managers. Almost every year Pete Waterman can be seen with his company 'Just like the real thing'. He's seen here with LMS 10000, one of the many superb models produced.Pete also passed comment on Wiveliscombe praising the artist work and recognized it immediately as a Somerset based scene.


D1048 can be seen on display amongst the vast array of superbly detailed locomotives on the Just Like the Real Thing stand.


The overwhelming view of Warley 2007. It's so big you can only fit half of it in at a time on the widest lens!Can you spot the Wiveliscombe Model Railway Layout in this image?