Events in 2002

Ted Polet

Expong 2002

Early in the morning of Friday, 25 October, my twin sons and I met Jan van Mourik on the Harwich ferry, on our way to Expo-NG. Having left our luggage at the hotel around mid-day, we continued under a grey sky towards Tenterden to pay a visit to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. No narrow gauge, but the next best thing. When we arrived at the car park, the train in the platform was a 1950s DMU! Very nice, and it stirred memories of similar units on the Llandudno-Blaenau service in 1967, but it was steam I had come to see. Luckily we were told about another train which was to be steam-hauled. We had a cup of tea in the old bus station in the Tenterden yard, and went outside in the rain to see the train arrive. The Norwegian 2-6-0 roared up the 1 in 50 to the terminus, nearly losing its feet on the level crossing, and came to a halt. The last time I had been there was in the mid-1990s together with Reinier Hendriksen.

The trip out to Bodiam and back took about two hours, and the nice thing is that here one can see a typical branch line at work as they used to be up to about 1960. It took me back to my teenage holidays to sit in a restored BR MK1, and it rather amused me to see that British passengers older than myself had forgotten how to open the doors at stations: pull down the window and use the outside handle!

The next morning we were at the show in Swanley rather early because I know about the queues that build up towards opening time! As usual we weren't disappointed with what the organisers had brought together. I cannot do justice to all the fine layouts that we saw. The best moment of the show for us was when the Reinier Hendriksen Trophy was given to Angus Watkins and his layout Chapel Pill. Angus was very surprised and pleased to be awarded the trophy.

Well - we saw it coming on the weather report. It seems I'm a fair target for the weather gods. For the second time in two years, heavy weather came up when we were at Swanley. At the hotel on the Friday night, when Jackie Molinaro came in from a much delayed ferry from France, Christopher Payne told him it was because yours truly had come over again, having been a sailor long ago and stirring up the waves. On Saturday night it was very quiet and raining, and on Sunday morning a severe storm closed down all ferries and many roads. The QE II bridge right behind the hotel at Dartford was closed, and we started phoning around to see what we could do. In the end we were able to book on the tunnel train to Calais. After a wild drive through stormy France and Belgium, we dropped Jan at his home in Bergen op Zoom. Having been fed fried eggs and sandwiches by his wife, we continued home where we arrived a bit exhausted but otherwise in quite a good shape. I may have been a sailor, but next time I come over this time of the year I think I'll stick to the tunnel!

More photos  

Valkenburg 2002

Friday 21 June saw the beginning of a narrow gauge enthusiast's migration to the west of the Netherlands. Some of the English exhibitors had started as early as 3.00am to drive hundreds of miles, or catch an early flight to Holland. Others arrived well past midnight early Saturday.

There was a 009 Society promotion stand, manned by Garry Whiting and Mick Thornton. That apart, we had John & Jane Jacobs, Robin & Susan Winter and Chris O'Donoghue as exhibitors, and Don & Val Sibley from Belgium. The Dutch Group showed layouts by Henk Wust, Jan van Mourik, Derk Huisman, Rob Reinders, Ruud Wittekoek and myself. And finally we had the Greenwich & District Narrow Gauge Society as guests.

Photos by Jan van Mourik  

Photos by Mick Thornton: