An example of 4mm scale modeling in cardboard at the Pendon Museum in Oxford, England.


November-December 2022I have just finished reading the late Roye England’s book In Search of a Dream, The Life and Work of Roye England. Edited by Stephen Williams and published by Wild Swan Publications. It is undated, but copies are available on the internet. Roye England was born in Australia. While in his teens in the 1920s, he invented a mechanical device for operating a model railroad automatically and decided to go to England to patent it. The devise was never made nor marketed, but when Roye arrived in England, he fell in love with the Vale of the White Horse, located in the Cotswold area of central southwest England. He was horrified to see the asphalting over, and bulldozing under, of the beautiful thatch roof, stone cottages, farms, and lanes of the area, and began trying to preserve it in photos and sketches.

Then he decided to someday build a museum with scale models of the Vale, and this book describes his lifelong work to produce The Pendon Museum near Oxford. Irene and I have visited Pendon three times including a tour by Roye. There is no better modeling, anywhere. It’s all in 4mm scale and I remember looking in the window of a little cottage and seeing socks drying on the hearth and a tiny crystal set with earphones on a table. I urge you to Google Pendon Museum for a series of excellent videos. The cottages are made from cardboard with hand-scribed bricks and stones, colored with watercolors. The flowers have separate pedals, and the ivy on the walls separate leaves. All in 4mm scale. One cottage has 60,000 hand-cut, painted and weathered roof slates, installed one by one.

Not all the models were made by Roye, but you have to audition to be a Pendon builder by building an acceptable privy. One of the accepted modelbuilders was Chris Pilton, who wrote a book in 1987 titled Cottage Modelling for Pendon (Wild Swan Publications). I see it is still available on the internet. I have just finished reading Chris’ book and decided to try some of his techniques on my latest Bodie model of the McKenzie Brewery with its Lady’s Parlor, drawn by Neil Pfafman, in the January/February 2020 Gazette. Seems the ladies of Bodie preferred to drink their brew alone.


ABOVE: My McKenzie Brewery with Ladies Parlor.

But what kind of card stock would work best? I searched the internet and found Illustration Boards (no. 300 Illustration Board). It can be ordered on Amazon in 9- x 12-inch 3-packs, but is also available elsewhere in 5×7, 8×10, 81/2×11, 9×12, and 11×14-inch 3-packs. I ordered several 3-packs of 9×12 boards from Amazon. I found this cardboard perfect. The small size is a virtue on a small work surface. It’s about 1/16-inch thick, has a mat finish, light manila colored surface, cuts easily and takes scribing and paint well. But it is pricey. Three 9×12 pieces cost around $13.00.

The brewery shown here was made from Illustration Board except for the trim, sidewalk, porch, and Wild West shakes, chimneys, and Tichy doors and windows. My brewery is nowhere near a Pendon model, but I am looking forward to trying some scribed-on bricks and stones. Please do look at that Pendon website, I know it will inspire you.

I could not attend the 42nd National Narrow Gauge Convention held at the Murano Hotel in Tacoma, Wash., September 1–4, 2022; however Dave Adams was there and graciously provided the following summary:

Robin Peel and the convention committee continued the tradition of fine conventions to the delight of 550 paid registrants, spouses and volunteers resulting in the printing of 750 name badges. The format followed past conventions with a twist in the layout tour times and close of the vendor room was one hour earlier to help avoid the worst of the automobile traffic in the area. This worked well, and the group I was layout touring with visited more layouts than we had in 2012. Even so, with 34 layouts open for tours, it simply was not possible to see them all.
Five clinic rooms each offered two clinics in the morning and the evening covering 36 different subjects, with most clinics being presented twice.

Narrow Gauge Convention

ABOVE: One of the many clinics at the convention. Photo by J. Sauer

The contest room contained models and photos that were all excellent, and worth studying. It is truly unfortunate that the travel climate precluded the room from being filled to capacity. See the Gallery on page 44 for a listing of the contest winners and photos of First Place Awards.

The Exhibition Hall hosted 42 vendors and 3 really nice modular layouts without feeling crowded. The lobby of the hall hosted the registration desk, the Hangman’s Creek logging railroad, coffee and pastries, and on the last night, an ice cream social.

The closing meeting was well attended, and the Chair made sure the committee, the volunteers, layout owners and clinicians were recognized for their contributions to the success of the convention. The contest winners were announced including Best of Show to Brian Block, and Mt. Albert Scale Lumber made an award to the model they determined to make the best use of scale wood. Inter-Action Hobbies donated prizes for a drawing, and a number of people went home with something they did not expect.

Narrow Gauge Convention

ABOVE: The Monson & Sheepscott Railroad display in On30 and Mudhens display in HOn3. Photo by J. Sauer

The assembled group then heard about future convention plans from Denver, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and a bid from the Twin Cities which was readily accepted. Here’s the future convention line-up:

2023Denver, Colorado, August 30–September 3
2024Pittsburgh, Pa.
2025 — St. Louis, Mo.
2026 — Twin Cities, Minn.
2027 — no bid

Linn Moedinger presented an informative “then and now” slide show on the East Broad Top Railroad, while talking about what has been accomplished by the new owners and their future plans. Robin then made a few closing remarks, pronounced the convention closed, wished all safe travels and that all could meet again in Denver.

The 42nd NNGC certainly provided for meeting old friends, making new ones, seeing what is new, viewing in-spiring models and layouts, learning from clinicians and just plain conversations with others. Truly the celebration of a fine fellowship. If you are interested in a bit more on this convention, please see the NNGC YouTube channel at Narrow Gauge Off the Beaten Track and look for the 42nd National Narrow Gauge wrap up.

—Bob Brown, Editor

November-December 2022This article appeared in the Nov/Dec 2022 issue of Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette. Subscribe Today!