DAVE WOOLEY reports on this event organised by A Model World in August 2008
The organisers of this Ellesmere Port Model Boat Show, now in its third year, have endeavoured to keep an event in the same area and at the same traditional time, because it was considered by them that this would be uppermost in the minds of the boat modelling fraternity. When the event held in the Boat Museum ceased to be part of the boating scene then it was always going to be a hard act to follow. The Boat Museum of course still exists, located close by the Manchester Ship Canal and thus 1:1 scale ships are stock in trade and a frequent visual spectacle there. That was always a major draw for modellers and the general public alike, plus within the museum grounds there was a fine ship plan archive, which was available to modellers. Add to that the sailing facility, model display areas, competition areas, large caravan and parking areas, and you would be forgiven for having the impression that the museum was almost purpose built, if not heaven sent for the activity of exhibiting and sailing models. So inevitably any replacement event in the same area is going to be compared to those held earlier, but time marches on.
The Epic Centre
This is easy to find as it is in the heart of Ellesmere Port and only minutes from the M53/M56 motorways . There is parking close to the venue and it is sited in a large sports hall, with plenty of space to accommodate both clubs and vendors. Many of the vendors were located around the perimeter of the hall with the centre interspaced with club displays and traders. Some clubs like Wirral MBC and New Brighton MBC were sited back to back, there being a long standing strong rapport between these clubs.
The venue, being a sports complex may be considered not to be the ideal location, but the indoor swimming pool was available for the use of modellers and there is a café area looking out across the exhibition area. So the essentials were all present.
With the steady decline in the traditional model shop, shows such as this fill a need for the modeller to easily access their vendor of choice. This can take the form of either a specialist manufacturer or a general supplier. Add to that there is an opportunity for local clubs to get together, exhibit their models, exchange information and give help and advice to those new to the hobby.
Many of the usual vendors were present, all well stocked and I believe there were at least 19 of them. Apart from A Model World, well known traders in the hall included: Model Slipway, Metcalf Mouldings, ACTion, PSShips (Sirmar), SHG Model Supplies, Shipfinder General, Mobile Marine Models, BECC Flags, Model Power, Tyne Models, Graupner, as well as others. You could purchase everything needed to build a model boat. Shows like this also allow modellers to meet up with old friends that you may only ever see once or maybe twice a year. John Lambert was present with his range of plans and there was Allan Miller demonstrating the art of model boat building with the new Model Slipway Tamar as his ongoing subject. His easy going, jovial style and wise head has helped many a modeller overcome some of the more tricky aspects of building from kits. Sadly Mick Bond with whom he used to work, passed away not too long ago and is missed by all of us.
PSShips had their new HMS Clyde hull to a scale of 1:48 this is proving to be a popular hull, giving a model length of a little over 5ft. Fittings packs will follow soon. They also had HMS Daring, a 1:96 scale Type 45 destroyer hull and fittings, but Paul Simpson confirmed that interest in the older hulls, such as the Leander Class frigates still very much continued.
Tugs are a very popular and widely built type of model. This was reflected at the Epic Centre with both Mobile Marine Models and Tyne Models displaying and selling their ranges of model tugs. The Tyne Models MCS Marlene was featured in October 2008 MB, reviewed by Allan Miller. Mobile Marine Models have a system whereby you can purchase everything you require in one go, or in smaller units to spread the cost. Tug kits are of course also available from Model Slipway, Metcalf Mouldings, SHG Models and PSShips. Model Slipway had the prototype of their proposed next release on display, an armed tug of the Assurance Class. Submarines always create interest and A1 Down under Models, a new manufacturer of dive systems, had plenty to interest visitors. They can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or tel: 01335 370587 after 6pm.
The models and clubs
There were some very interesting models including Pacific Light, built by Ken Povall. This was in wood and you might inquire as to what was so special about it? Well, Ken has built his model entirely from matchsticks and not only is it a fully working model with two Robbe 1000 motors, but it is also fully and correctly illuminated with 40 grain of wheat bulbs. Ken is keen to keep the model with the woodwork not covered by paint and I can understand why.
Mick Knowles was exhibiting his Royal Caroline and Stan Amos had his latest model of Centaur, a Blue Funnel cargo vessel to a scale of 1:96.
For those into the competition side of tug towing, Ellesmere Port MBC and Wirral MBC have become synonymous with success in this discipline, so tugs and the Ellesmere Port Model Boat show are definitely part of this expanding and interesting part of our hobby with plenty of examples of these models on their stands.
Its difficult to anticipate the future with any certainty and make an educated guess as to how trade shows and the hobby will progress, particularly in these credit crunch times. There are many shows up a down the country that endeavour to cater for both the discerning boat modeller and those wishing to take the plunge and make model boating their hobby. Here at The Epic Centre, A Model World and proprietor Mark in particular, are working hard to have a show in a venue in a central location, that is readily accessible to the public as well as modellers and are aiming to promote both the hobby and the trade. At the end of the day, we need the public to come and see us and become involved, as that will ensure our hobby does not stagnate and continues to grow in these difficult times.
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