Juicy pics of exquisite scenery feature in this latest of my resurrected postings from the old Kapiti Fusiliers website. Originally posted on May 2008, this photo-article describes a describes my visit to the Pendon Museum of Miniature Landscape and Transport during a trip to the United Kingdom. Don’t forget to click on the photos – I’ve made them quite big so you can get the full effect!
Like many wargamers, I’ve always had a fascination with the hobby of railway modelling. As a child, I was presented with a beautiful book of photos of model railways from round the world. I recall being particularly impressed with the pictures of a layout of exquisite Lilliputian cottages known as Pendon. During my trips to the UK in the late 1970s and 80s, I tried to visit Pendon, but for some reason I never succeeeded in getting there.
For decades I never gave Pendon much more thought, until this year when my family and I went to stay with my sister-in-law in Oxfordshire for a week. I was idly browsing through a local map of their district, when the name ‘Pendon Museum’ jumped out at me. “Oh, that’s in Long Wittenham, just a few minutes down the road,” I was told.
So, a childhood dream came true when we drove into a pretty little village and parked outside a rather modern structure housing this famous layout. I dreaded that my family, who had also come along, would quickly get bored and want to pull me away to other sightseeing, but fortunately this turned out to be a magical experience that entranced all of us for hours.
When Roye England moved to the Vale of the White Horse during the 1930s, he was so concerned at the changes happening in the local landscape that he conceived the idea of preserving it in miniature. The result is a huge layout (some 2000 square feet) that depicts an imaginary tract of the Vale in 1:76 scale, with villages, farms, quiet lanes, a railway and all the other features of the 1930s English countryside.
Although the model was begun in the 1930s, and the museum itself established in 1954, the project is nowhere near finished. Each structure or piece of terrain is a mammoth project, involving many, many hours.
Of course, from a wargamer’s perspective, this model of an idyllic sunny summer afternoon in the mid-20th century Vale only lacks one thing: a shower of miniature German paratroopers dropping in on some stalwart British Home Guardsmen!
The village of Pendon Parva. The yellow building on the right is the Waggon and Horses Inn, finished by Roye England in 1936, the first model in the layout. Note: click on this and the other pictures in this article to enlarge them.
This house is known as “77”, and is a replica of a real building in South Marston. Like the other buildings in Pendon, it is made out of cardboard to a scale of 4mm to the foot.
This deceptively simple model of a Victorian cottage shows the delicately handpainted brickwork that is a feature of the Pendon models. Each brick, only 1mm high by 3mm long, is embossed into the cardboard and then individually painted with watercolours.
The farmyard at Bradbury Farm. I love the intricate cart models.
The thatch on the roofs of many of the Pendon models is painstakingly recreated using small bundles of plumber’s hemp. Every flower in the garden is individually modelled.
A chalky junction in the quiet village. Doesn’t it just need a jeep and a motorcyle courier, with the drivers looking at a map to see where they are, to complete the scene?!
A lane winds off into the distance. Note the vegetable garden – it is said that the smallest model in the layout is a moth on one of the cabbages.
A GWR delivery truck is reflected in the quiet waters at Upper Mill. And, yes, most of the trees being made for the layout these days are based on Woodland Scenics.
You can visit www.pendonmuseum.com to find out more about this wonderful museum.