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Report by Chris Warrell
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A fine sunny day greeted us as we assembled outside the hall on 11th October. Cathy and I arrived at about 7:40am to find another half dozen members already there and ready to unload. All this activity brought John out of his flat above us, so he opened the hall earlier than the booked time of eight o'clock.
It wasn't long before we'd arranged the tables into the usual layout, although exactly how we decide which table goes where seems to vary from year to year. There was some last minute re-shuffling when Keith Patey brought a couple of sturdy folding tables. One was used on the end of the island in the main hall, and the other put in the room with the refreshments. This was added to John Gay's table (he'd brought his own), so this gave us an additional run of tables opposite the refreshment counter. John was very pleased with that location; visitors who’d been chatting to him about his models would frequently offer him a cup of tea! A small table was put in the lobby for a windmill complete with coloured lights to entice the visitors in.
Luckily everyone fitted in to the space provided without too much shuffling around. Altogether we had 26 exhibitors, plus Dave Taylor with his usual Aladdin's cave of sets and spares. We had two visiting exhibitors; Dick Watson of the North West Meccano Guild, making his third or fourth appearance, and lone enthusiast Stuart Jones from Uckfield who enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to join us!
The attendance was noticeably improved from 2007 – we sold 114 adult tickets plus 48 children/OAP tickets. If you add on, say, 57 for the accompanied children (who came in for nothing, but didn't get a ticket, so we’ve no accurate figure) that makes a total of around 219. That's about a hundred more than last year! Quite why the big improvement I don't know; it was probably a combination of things: flyers left at a model railway exhibition in Bexley; the free advert in the Railway Modeller; and, of course, the Old Bexley Summer Fair in July.
The News Shopper newspaper sent a photographer and the picture below of Brian Leach with his fruit machine appeared in it a couple of weeks later. They actually conducted the interview with me over the phone before the event and my quotation, of course, can be taken with a pinch of salt! They got the gist of it right, though.
Members may remember that our webmaster Tim Surtell was filming models along with commentaries from various exhibitors during the day. This has all been edited and is now on the website (it's actually been there for a few months) and he's done an excellent job. The video is about 25 minutes long and you will find it at the foot of this article.
Thanks are due to everyone who helped with setting the hall up, tying up posters in the High Street, clearing everything away at the end and everyone who manned the various rotas. Special thanks, of course, to Cathy and Rose Warrell who did a great job serving the refreshments. We're also grateful to members who provided the food and drink.
» This article appeared in the January 2009 issue of SELMEC News.