Captain Leigh!

 Chris Leigh's Bangor Packet, by Railway Design Associates. CHRIS LEIGH

Chris Leigh's Bangor Packet, by Railway Design Associates. CHRIS LEIGH

If I'm asked, I'd call myself a railway modeller, but recently I've tended towards other modelling disciplines, too...

I'm undoubtedly a modeller but my modelling interests go way beyond just railways. Indeed, my interests and expertise tends to lie as much outside the rails as between them. Building a layout is about so much more than merely making, or operating, trains. I've built, or been involved in building a lot of layouts but I can't claim to have ever built my own track, and in a lifetime I've only scratch-built two steam locomotives. My 'score' in scratch-built diesels is about the same. I built a Plastikard NBL Type 2 body and mounted it on an 'HO' European chassis, and I still have the Class 59 that I built because I couldn't wait for a ready-to-run model to be released.

On the other hand, I've lost count of the number of stations and other railway buildings that I've built. There have been lots of non-railway buildings, too, most recently around 15 structures for my Cornish harbour layout, 'Polwyddelan'. Of all the different aspects of layout building, I think I enjoy making buildings more than anything else. I've been photographing a derelict pub in Oundle, Northants, with a view to making a model.

In the early days of Model Rail I got great satisfaction from the printed building kits that we included as free gifts. I devised them all, and Andrew Mackintosh drew and painted the finished artwork. Readers may remember Hogwarts Castle, spread over several issues, but before that there were also parts of Colchester and Moreton-in-Marsh stations, Peterborough Wagon Works, Oundle Tyre & Exhaust Centre (somewhat disguised) and even the terraced house in Windsor where I spent the first five years of married life.

However, it isn't just making buildings that I enjoy - I can't get into sci-fi modelling like some of my colleagues - but I do enjoy building kits of non-railway subjects. I've an Airfix Avro Vulcan under construction and two larger scale radio control ships, one of them chosen because it’s 1:48 scale, ideal for ‘O’ gauge ‘scenery’.

At present I'm completely captivated by a little laser-cut wood kit that builds into an 'HO' scale stern-wheel paddle steamer. I’m finding laser-cut wood and board a very nice medium to work with. It glues easily with a quick-setting PVA glue, such as Velo-Set or Deluxe Materials’ Speedbond and it enables an innovative kit designer to come up with some really finely detailed parts which don’t involve complex or difficult assembly techniques.

So allow me to introduce the Bangor Packet by Railway Design Associates http://shop.railwaydesign.com

She’s 1:87 (HO) scale and based on drawings of a real vessel, a 60ft long cargo-carrying riverboat. In outline, she’s remarkably similar to the Lucy Fisher a fake sternwheeler built as a movie ‘prop’ and operated for some 30 years by French Brothers from their boatyard at Runnymede on the Thames. The kit took a week of evenings to build and all I’ve added by way of extras are the rowboat, the Confederate flag and the two cannons and figures. The rest of the cargo is supplied as white metal castings.

Railway Design Associates’ other products are mainly structure kits.