Best layout tour ever!

I’ve just finished reading Pete Warren’s article, Morehampstead in 2mm Finescale, which appeared in Model Railway Journal (MRJ) 285. If you hurry you might get to McNews on Lonsdale before John or Brian pick up the last copies. It is worth elbowing your way past my friends to secure your copy, even if you have no interest in British model railways. Here, at last, is a layout tour article that is not tedious!

To be fair, MRJ’s layout articles are frequently more personal and entertaining than the formulaic mush that floods the pages of most magazines. The long format lets their authors take their time and tell stories rather than impart dry data. Generally, the magazine is a much more delightful read than anything else in that section of McNews, or perhaps in any section of the store, depending I suppose on one’s tastes.

Pete Warren, however, has taken the art to a new level. Wikipedia affirms that there is a journalist, Peter Warren, ex-BBC, of about the right age. If these are the same person, then it explains a lot, as the article has the feel of someone who has spent time at the keyboard. The article is full of personally resonant gems — “the kids were both quite unimpressed with my little train trundling up and down, but I knew the ground-breaking significance of what I had achieved.”

The article expands to five pages before there is even a hint that we’re going to hear about the construction of this work. Once that begins, as we expect it should, the article entertainingly skirts or embellishes the catalogue of products and techniques that chokes common layout tours.

I have no idea if you ever aspire to write for the BBC, but if you hope to write up your layout for one of the magazines, you really should get down to McNews and pick up one of the copies of MRJ 285. Learn from this article and improve on it.

If you click through you should be able to read this first page and get a taste

15 thoughts on “Best layout tour ever!

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I used to subscribe to MRJ but let it lapse when it went to four-issue (half-year) cycles for international customers. It was just too much messing about, getting bank drafts, etc.

    You’re right: good storytelling is rare in the hobby and examples of it are worth sharing. In that spirit, I offer you this layout blog.
    I suggest reading the Intro and Layouts pages first, then start diving in. You’ll find some excellent modelling, innovative ideas, and brilliant storytelling.
    Enjoy if you visit!

      1. Once a year or so, I go buy a bunch, keeps the shipping cost down. I also bought Gordon Gravett’s books, for example. I’m not aware of a subscription service, aside from Rene’s link that i just saw.

  2. That article is superb and your summary of the MRJ layout article compared to the typical is exactly the way to describe it. It’s so hard to find the words to communicate what we’re trying to do because while we’re working in a technical medium, pragmatic language lacks the terminology to fill in the colour and passion of our emotional connection.

    That moment, in the article, when he expresses his joy of watching that first model operating. That alone was where this article became different. I think we all know a moment like that. At that moment I could immediately connect with the author and their experience. It’s beautiful.


    1. I don’t think it’s a problem of language so much as focus. The emphasis on his personal journey, rather than on the model itself, gives many more opportunities to connect. It is a personal story, not a technical one.

      1. Thank you for the correction. You’re absolutely right and I apologize for not thinking through my comment. These last few years articles in MRJ that leverage that perspective are so easy to find and it’s a much more enjoyable approach. I think it humanizes the work and instead of asking myself if this is something I could or could not do I see myself at a position within that spectrum of things I tried, experiences I had, and knowledge I gained. It seems so much more healthy.


      2. Oh, now that is a great observation, Chris. Interestingly, it might work both ways: it could be super interesting and enjoyable to read an article about something basic if it were more personal.

        My apologies, it wasn’t my intention to correct you!

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