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Club v Stand alone

5748 Views 47 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  neil_s_wood
Is it worth belonging to a model railway club? Let the debate begin…..

Have you found the 'Club clique' extremely hard to break into?
I do wonder, as sometimes encountered, the 'old club members' who don't want newbie's or aren't to pleased to pass on their skills etc.
While the overall picture is one of gaining vast expertise from those who have been club members for many years, in reality often it is found that your efforts are scorned upon as being 'below club standards' etc.
You can often be placed under pressure to give up your weekends to help out with layout operations and use your car as a vehicle for club use in transporting layouts and members to from exhibitions etc.

As a 'stand alone' modeller one can gain information, expert advice and even watch demonstrations etc.
Magazines, books, videos/DVDs and the internet all offer a wealth of help guidance and knowledge.

What a stand alone doesn't have is first hand one to one debates, but even this is now taken care of via forums like this one!

So, is club life worth the hassle??
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Well now you know at least one club to avoid becoming a member of, that said anyone in the area who would like to join is more than welcome to join. I'm just dying go have some new blood to make feel uncomfortable and unwelcome!:lol: Only joking an influx of new blood that has the drive to help move things along would be great. In the meantime I'll just keep going down to see the lads most of whom are great guys just a little soft and unmotivated and you never know maybe we'll get the layout presentable before the majority of the membership dies and on that I'm not joking as most of them are retired or close to retirement. As for being brave about naming the club, that's one way of looking at it the other would be that it was a bit stupid. I'll find out Monday evening if it has any negative effects for me. Though none of them have mentioned this forum, or any other for that matter, and I haven't. Can't even remember how or where I found this place. On a different note, Anybody going to the BRM show at the weekend?
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I am hoping to get there on Sunday at some point. I say hoping as now i have a 5 month old son and associated paraphenalia such as pushchair it can be a squeeze especially if as usual it is heaving with the usual crowd of people who are too busy looking through a crowd of bodies to see a layout(usually where bog all is happening) to shift out of the way in spite of several polite requests. Why do people carry rucksacks big enough to get an entire layout in?
If you are going to Harrogate be prepared for a difficult time finding the showground as they can't seem to be bothered with signs for it and be prepared for a queue in and out of the venue when you do.
As for finding this forum i happened across a reference to it in a reply on the hornby website.
Another well worth a visit is the exhibition at the SECC in Glasgow on 24th, 25th and 26th of February 2006. Many layouts and a good turnout of suppliers of model railways accessories. If you are put off with large crowds, then visit the show on the Friday 24th.
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It is interesting that Model Railway clubs come over as full of old, boring and fixated individuals. Guess that with a club layout they might feel some "ownership" and resent new members. The existing membership might also not appreciate a new member that might effectively tell them that the 1890's model that they have been building in their own way for 5 years is of no interest as anything pre 1997 is boring. Whilst this is not quite what new blood is looking for I can understand those with a demonstrated long term commitment being sceptical of new faces who will probably disappear equally quickly.

The above is a complete contrast with my experience of the larger gauges. The 16mm Association & the Gauge One Association survive by having regular meets at the railways of the members. These are nearly always at someones home where hospitality is most generously provided and help/ encouragment unreservedly given. Families are welcome & wifes have as sociable a meeting as husbands. There will always be the odd sullen individual but in the groups mentioned they are an absolutely tiny minority. The other model group that I have experience of is the model engineering groups with the 3.5" & bigger models. They have always been delighted to welcome new members & are very keen to help you succeed. They can have fully equipped workshops for members use & there will nearly always be someone to help you use the equipment if you need it.

Seems an amazing contrast.

There is an obvious difference between the aims & timescale of the clubs. The OO/HO type club seems to be about building & owning a very limited number of railways that are owned by the club whilst the larger gauges are more about running trains on existing railways.

I guess you need to find a model club that has the same interests as you do. If there isn't one you can always do what the existing members have done already & set up your own.

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Well as I'm going on Sunday also Spongebob if I see somebody trying toget a look with a 5 month old baby in tow I'll happily let you through. It also makes me wonder what these people could possibly have in those giant outdoor pursuit type rucksacks, maybe they all have much more money than me to spend on their model obsession.
After reading all the previous, my club (of which I am a member) - Hull MRS seems the exact opposite. I joined as a 14 year old and ended up staying. I am currently in my 24th year of membership. Whenever someone new comes through the door, they are welcomed, shown around and asked what gauge they model. They are then directed towards similar modellers. They are told of the various club nights, other interests, what exhibition layouts we have and which pub we go to! Absolutely no pressure is put on anyone to join or produce models. We have members who come just to chat.
We also used to have a large fixed 00 gauge layout, which seldom got operated. After an "interesting" meeting, it was decided scrap it , along with the fixed groups such as n gauge, o gauge, etc. Now, if someone wants to build a layout, they get together with a few others, come up with a proposal and put to to the committee for funding. We have found this is a much better approach and someone with a minority interest is more likely to build a layout. Some of you will know layouts from Hull MRS - Walker Marine, Reighton, Kyle of Tounge, Rushenden Metals, Chessington Chalk Lane, Sheepwash, Alloa Goods - the list goes on. All built after we changed our rules.
Yes, we have had people who come and go, but on the whole most stay. Perhaps that is why our membership is 70+ (numbers, not age!)

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Hi Jeff, we, that's my brother Brian and I visited your 2004 exhibition and found the few club members we spoke to were very friendly and open. I forget their names but they did invite us along to see them on a club night but unfortunately we've not had the chance to make it up to you yet, but hopefully we will some time this year. As an aside to coming to see you, how does one get an invite to show a layout at your show? After the 2004 show we've decided that yours is one we'd like to do probably next year if that's possible

Glad you were made welcome. As regards attending the Hull Show, you would need to talk to our exhibition manager (Malcolm Scrimshaw). If you drop me a line off list, I'll explain more.

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I suppose when you join a club it's a bit like any other random group of people that you might encounter. You will get some that you get on with and some you don't. I found with Railway Clubs that some members are a bit obsessive and overly focussed on their own particular area of interest and make the assumption that every one else is too. This can be a bit off putting when you feel ignorant that you don't know what a GWR 20T brake van bogies should be like. But lets face it why should you.
The whole point with a club is that you should be sharing knowledge but like any other group of people you will get egotists who want to dominate it and try to get it to march to their tune. The question is, is dealing with them really worth it for the knowledge you will get out of it?
All clubs are different and many are dominated by one or two individuals who guide the club in their favourite direction but not all. If the club you are in seems to offer little look around there are a lot of other clubs and organisations. I am not a member of a local club but am a member of DEMU which although it is a national based organisation is very much a supportive and helpful organisation. if your local model railway club isn't giving you the help and support change clubs or join an organisation more specific to your chosen modelling area it is surprising just how many clubs and other railway modelling organisations are out there
I have been giving club membership some thought and there are 2 things which put me off joining the club which is local to me - time and money.

The way I view forums such as this is as a modern day version of a club - there are a bunch of people with a common interest coming together to help each other out.

The conclusion I have come to is that, for me at least, the use of internet forums and visits to exhibitions / layouts fits the bill for me.
QUOTE The conclusion I have come to is that, for me at least, the use of internet forums and visits to exhibitions / layouts fits the bill for me.

I think that sums it up for a lot of people. Unless you are retired or rich you do not have the free time to commit to a club. With a forum such as this you can participate while you are at home or at work when things go quiet. But for people like me with full time employment and children, spare time is a luxury which I normally want to devote to my layout rather than spend time arguing with someone over how many rivets should be on the side of a Class 31!
So, by inference, will fora such as this be the death knell of clubs? An interesting thought.....

Clubs still have a place and a role to fill. I do wonder when we will see the first forum railway at an exhibition tho. Now that would be an interesting concept.........
Actually there is a DEMU project being organised via their forum to build an exhibition layout basically there is a proposal of what the layout will be and anyone on the forum can get involved either directly with helping to build it or by building stock. I believe it is planned to go on the exhibition circuit in 2007. There is also a project to build a layout at exhibition which started at the Glasgow show and will appear at various exhibitions around the UK with Glasgow being baseboard construction the aim being to complete the layout within 12 months with all work being done on it at exhibitions ! This is also making a lot of use of the DEMU forum for help and advice
QUOTE Actually there is a DEMU project being organised via their forum to build an exhibition layout

This could be the way things will go. As people have less and less available free time, instead of going to a meeting to discuss a potential layout they could co-ordinate it through the medium of a forum such as this. However you are all going to have to make stuff but a considerable amount of that could be done at home and as was said previously this could be done at exhibitions.

Shame we couldn't do that here as our members live in California at one end and Australia at the other. I suppose if a lot of people lived in one area they could give it a go though.
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Thing that puts me off joining a club is those three word's "model rail club", it just makes me think anoraks!!
(sorry no offence to anyone in a club).
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You don't need the words model rail club to imply anorak in this game. Just mention to someone that you are into railway modelling and the implications are a cross between Dwayne Dibley and Roy Cropper. I get most of my ebay purchases posted to work so every time something shows up in the post it's whoo woo etc. They're only jealous 'cos my mail's more interesting than theirs.
I know what you mean spongebob, there's a definite stigma attached to anything trains, but i'm no spotter standing at the station taking train no's
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