Fabergé comes to the Fosse

The 2013 Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition showed that model engineering is alive and well in the UK. On the first day it was very busy, indeed, with traders reporting bumper business. Day two was busy, too. No doubt it continued into the weekend. ‘The Fosse’ as it is known colloquially is a four-day event which gives the possibility to attract plenty of visitors without serious overcrowding. Its location, right in the middle of England, makes it accessible to most parts of the country, as well as the Midlands hot-bed of model engineering. Indeed, the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre (to give it its official title) is now home to a variety of events throughout the year, not just those connected with the businesses housed at the same location.

It is always a wonderfully relaxed event - by design. Meridienne Exhibitions is a fully staffed, professional outfit. Clubs love it. They keep coming back in numbers every year. So do the traders. One or two have now switched to relying more on selling through the internet. But gaps left by them have been filled. one newcomer this year was Axminster Tools, best known among woodworkers, but also very popular with model engineers.

This show always produces lots of locomotives - many of them a bit special. This  year there seemed to be more of a balance, perhaps reflecting more closely what goes on in model engineering workshops these days. However, that does not apply to the extraordinary Fabergé type egg by John Moorhouse in silver and enamel and containing a singing bird mechanism.

It is interesting to see new exhibits these days from the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers. The SMEE has a wonderful collection of models donated or bequeathed by members over many decades. Recently the stationary engine group has been sorting out just what is at Marshall House. Some of these were on display and their quality is truly superb. Considering the equipment that was available to those old home workshops, they are amazing. The choice of subjects, too, is interesting - often state of the art in their day, but redundant technology in this millennium. The results also clearly belong to an earlier time when quality and craftsmanship were paramount, and the work was in scales that did not require hacking about great lumps of metal.

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