Model Engineer Exhibition 2008
A report from Ascot by COLIN BISHOP with photos by DAVE ABBOTT
Ronald Paddison's Trent Class lifeboat.
Given the very impressive turnout of models at last years 100th Anniversary Exhibition at Ascot, it was disappointing to find very low entries in all classes this year and this did not just apply to the Marine Section. All the competition classes were housed in a small annex to the main building with just the Duke of Edinburghs Challenge entries being displayed on the ground floor nearby. Glitches in the organisation, together with a depleted number of marine judges meant that we had our work cut out despite there only being 21 entries in the Marine Section.
On the plus side, the standard of modelling appeared to be as high as ever with some excellent work on display and we had no problems in making a number of high awards. However, some classes, C2 for example, had no entries at all. So, this being Ascot, let us take a canter through the scorecard to see which models were first past the post.
This caters for Working Scale Models, 1:1 to 1:48 and there were two entries. We had no hesitation in awarding a Gold Medal to Ronald Paddisons 1/8th scale model of the Whitby Trent Class lifeboat George and Mary Webb. These days, you can see plenty of large lifeboat models, but you wont see many like this one. Not only is the external detail faithfully replicated, but just about all the internal detail is reproduced as well, with the actual functional parts concealed beneath the scale modelled interior. There are also lots of working features including lights and window wipers. Truly an exceptional model, which was also awarded the RNLI Trophy. The second entry was an African Queen steam launch entered by Steve Betney based on a Kingston Mouldings hull and fitted with a commercial steam plant. The imaginative detailing and weathering applied to the model gained it a Commended Certificate.
Classes C3 and C4
C3 and C4 Classes for non-working models featured six models. Graham Castle followed up his award winning canal boat Vulcan of 2007, with another inland waterways vessel, this time the steam powered Carron Steam Lighter No. 10 of 1871, which was a precursor of the seagoing Clyde puffers. Like Vulcan, this was an exquisite model, immaculately finished and gained Graham another Gold Medal plus the H.V. Evans Trophy for research and presentation. Another unusually presented model in C3 was Peter Fitchs RAF General Service Pinnace No. 1374 which had one side left unpainted to show the planked construction. This vessel can be seen preserved at the RAF Museum at Hendon. Mr Fitchs model was awarded a Bronze Medal.
All four entries in Class C4 were submarines built by David Brown and smartly presented together in a single case. Constructed to Mr Browns usual high standard, HMS Upholder was awarded a Silver Medal and the Earl Mountbatten of Burma Trophy for best naval model. Her consorts HMS Storm and HMS Graph received Bronze Medals. Like many of the other entrants, Mr Brown had provided detailed notes for the judges and public and these were left on display as I think that the additional information greatly enhances the enjoyment for the public when looking at the models. Mr Browns 2007 Gold Medal winning HMS Cornwall could also be seen on the Duke of Edinburghs Challenge stand.
Classes C5 and C6
A varied selection of models were entered in classes C5 and C6 which are for working and non-working sailing ships. Two of the three working models received awards: Peter Fishers Ocean Breeze was particularly well finished and was awarded a Bronze Medal. The model is a freelance design based on Underhill plan lines and an Edgar March sail plan, to represent a merchant schooner converted for private use. Hull construction is plank on frame. A Commended Certificate went to William Lee for Marguerite, his 1893 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. This was a scratchbuilt plank on frame model constructed from information held by the Bristol City Museum. Unusually for a working sailing model, Marguerite does not employ a false keel.
All three non working entries received medals. Regular exhibitor Charles Freeman displayed two well crafted models, HMS Beagle which took Silver and HMS Grasshopper, a 14 gun sloop circa 1770/1780 which was awarded a Bronze plus the Maze Challenge cup for ships prior to 1820. Both models were packed full of interest with the addition of crew members carrying out various tasks, something not usually seen on models of this type. Mr Freeman also had a much larger model of HMS Agamemnon entered in the Duke of Edinburghs Challenge. The third model was Robin Burnhams 30ft Naval Gig which also took Bronze. We were particularly impressed with the detail work of the gratings on this model.
A Silver Medal together with the Class Willis Trophy went to Bryan Finch who had entered a freelance 1/12th scale open steam launch in Class C7. Launches of this type are not uncommon in the Exhibition and indeed there were three other entries in the competition to keep it company. However, Mr Finchs model was a little different, being powered by a geared steam turbine of his own design inspired by an article in this magazine in 2001. The turbine is 50mm in diameter and fitted with 60 blades with steam being delivered at 90psi. Off load rpm at full pressure is some 35,000, with a little under half that when the boat is in the water. As well as the well executed engineering, the overall finish and workmanship of the model was to a very high standard - it positively gleamed all over!
Miniatures have been quite prolific in recent exhibitions, but on this occasion we only had three on show. Bernard Baldwin had submitted a beautiful model of the Ben Line freighter Benloyal of 1959 to 1/600th scale. The 1950s and 1960s saw some of the most graceful ship designs ever built before the advent of box boats and modern cruise ships and Mr Baldwin had captured the essence of the period perfectly with Benloyal. His standard of workmanship was such that the model could have been scaled up several times and it would still have been outstanding. The model was awarded a Gold medal and the Prothero Thomas award for best miniature. Both other entries came from well known regular Roy Chapman and were both to 1:1200 scale. His Cunard SS Carmania dating back to 1905 was rated a Highly Commended Certificate, while the short lived Orient liner SS Orcades of 1937 which was torpedoed and sunk in 1942 received a Commended Certificate. Both were nice models, but not quite up to the standard of his White Star liner Baltic which was entered into the Duke of Edinburghs Challenge.
Duke of Edinburghs Challenge
There were a number of marine models entered into the Duke of Edinburghs Challenge, at least three of which I thought had a good chance of taking the top slot, but unfortunately it was not to be, with an engineering exhibit taking the Competitions premier accolade.
f the Exhibition is to continue in its present form then the organisers will need to give some very serious thought as to how the entry can be boosted in the future. The models are undoubtedly out there, but their builders need to be persuaded to put them on public show. Entering the competition classes is not essential, there is a Loan Section for people who wish to only display their models, but surprisingly even this received no support this year.