20 Jul Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure: 5

Rapido UK Blog / July 20, 2017

Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure: 5
A day at the seaside with Railway Modeller

By Gareth Bayer

Follow Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure from start to finish:

1 – Launching the first British Rapido bus
2 – Driving the Sandtoft Trollies
3 – Exploring Rails of Sheffield
4 – A hard day’s work with Revolution Trains
5 – A day at the seaside with Railway Modeller

Thursday dawned earlier for us that most days because we had something of a drive ahead of us. Five hours or so depending on traffic.

Skype and Facetime are wonderful inventions and without them Rapido simply wouldn’t be able to communicate. However there is nothing like a face to face meeting. So when the team at Railway Modeller magazine invited us to their headquarters in the beautiful village of Beer, Devon, we jumped at the chance of visiting the home of this famous publication.

Up until now the combination of Jason’s driving and my navigating had worked quite well. We’d had no major bust ups, I still had a job, and there was only a slightly damaged manual transmission to show for our travels across the UK so far. The five hour journey from Northamptonshire to Devon though promised to test our relationship (and the gearbox) to destruction.

Another stunning Northamptonshire village.

It wasn’t long before Google Maps was giving us a warning of impending traffic snarl ups, with tailbacks on both the M6 around Coventry and the mother of all delays on the M42 between the M6 and M40. Fortunately there were alternative routes and they promised a more rewarding journey than the typical British motorway experience.

Jason took the news that we were heading “cross country” on the A46 well…

Passing Coventry…

Passing Stratford-upon-Avon…

Passing Cheltenham…

Passing Weston-Super-Mare…

Around Taunton we decided to “cut the corner” and avoid Exeter.

Passing Taunton…

Google Maps, where have you taken us?!

45 hair raising minutes later…

We arrived at Beer!

Beautiful Beer!

As well as the offices of Railway Modeller and its sister magazine Continental Modeller, Peco’s site at Beer is also home to the factory that makes its world famous track and loads of other products, the Pecorama pleasure gardens, and the 7 1/4in gauge Beer Heights Light Railway.

We say world famous because I’ve quickly found that most North American modellers I know swear by Peco’s track. The Code 75 and Code 100 ranges used to be really popular but these have been mostly superseded by the amazing Code 83 North American track. Jason has used about three miles of it on his layout – that’s actual miles, not scale miles. Jason loves it so much that he spent the first three hours at Peco pestering them to make their North American track with slightly wider sleeper spacing and Code 70 rail for branch line and yard use.

Peco’s offices and factory.

The factory is something quite special. Peco still make all their track in the UK and that’s something that they are justifiably very proud of.

Rapido would love to make its model trains in Canada but that simply isn’t going to happen any time soon. The average Rapido model includes something like eight to eleven hours of assembly, which would quadruple the cost of our trains if we tried to make them in North America, that’s assuming we could find a factory with the kind of expertise that we require.

Anyway, we were at Peco to meet Steve Flint (editor) and Craig Tiley (features editor/writer) from Railway Modeller and talk about Rapido for a feature on the company planned for a future issue.

Before the hard work of being interviewed began we retired to Peco’s classy restaurant for lunch…

Golden Arrow Pullman Car “Orion” from 1951 – now a restaurant at Pecorama.

This really is the only way to have lunch.

Gareth and Jason relax in the private room in Orion.

After lunch we were given a tour of the offices before the interview began in the boardroom.

Foolishly they left us alone for a few minutes and a quick rummage found this…

Suitable reading material – The Thomas the Tank Engine annual from 1979.

Jason loves nothing more than telling the story of Rapido from his early days making resin kits to today’s hugely detailed ready-to-run efforts. Craig and Steve were both working in overdrive to keep up with the stream of consciousness.

Jason, editor Steve and Gareth.

Our reward for travelling all the way to Devon for a one hour interview was a trip on the Beer Heights Light Railway.

Jason wanted to travel in this car, for obvious reasons (you did know we’re making a model of the real locomotive that inspired Toby from Thomas the Tank Engine, right?).

“Toby” and Jason.

Knowing my preference for diesel and electric power, Peco laid on BHLR “diesel” locomotive Ben for our trip around the one mile light railway. I say diesel because I think it was more lawn mower engine powered (it’s actually powered by a 998cc Mini lump). In a strange co-incidence, this locomotive was named by Revolution Train’s Ben Ando in August 2015!

All aboard at Much Natter!

A great way to end the day.

About to enter the tunnel under the car park. Craig is closest to the camera.

The journey to our next hotel in Basingstoke was eventful.

Full of confidence after our trip on tiny “white line” roads when we cut the corner from just south of Taunton to Beer, Google Maps sent us via a succession of roads that were little more than tarmacked farm tracks for the first third of our trip back.

Eventually regaining the A roads around Yeovil we realised that we’d be able to enjoy the sight of Stonehenge from our car windows in half an hour or so. Time for some speed tourism!

Stonehenge… at speed!

Unfortunately this proved to be too much for the driver.


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