There will be a vast variety of tours:

  • Model Railways – visit a wide range of model railways from small to large. There will be organised tours to layouts you only read about in magazines so this will be a unique opportunity to visit some well-known layouts that never come out.  We will also visit clubs and local layouts.
  • Railways – visit the real thing at either industrial sites or current railway locations or, instead, visit a wide range of preserved railways running steam and diesels.
  • Industrial Heritage – take the opportunity to learn about historic canals (Birmingham has more canals than Venice), the birthplace of the industrial revolution and local trades.
  • Tourist – there are so many options from visiting London to stately homes. Many members attend with their partners who may have no interest in railways. We will make sure that they are well catered for both in the Convention Centre and out on the road.
  • Dining – take an evening out to try a local Balti, fish and chips or have a traditional Sunday roast or afternoon tea. We’re also hoping to offer dining trains and a medieval banquet!

Tours are usually a half or a full day with some evening tours too to more local attractions.

Tours are usually on a coach with a guide but some will involve rail travel.  The UK generally has small houses and no basements so we will clearly mark the access requirements for all tours.

There will also be a team of local members and helpers on hand to advise on all the local attractions, dining venues, car hire etc for those wanting to create their own unique tours.

If there is a downside, there will be so much on offer that you will not be able to do all you would like!

Tours

What tours are going to be offered?

It’s early days but tours will offer a mix of trips to layouts, prototype, rail and industrial sites of interest, museums and general interest (tourist) trips.

Are the tours handicapped accessible?

We aim to ensure that the hotel is fully handicapped accessible. We will detail accessibility issues on layout and other tour destinations. Please note that tour locations may not be fully accessible.

Is lunch or dinner provided on longer tours?

In many cases, yes, boxed/packed lunches will be provided on longer tours however in some cases access to a restaurant will be provided instead.  This will be clearly marked.

Is photography permitted on tours?

Permissions to photograph subjects on tours vary significantly.

Here are answers for both layout and other tours.

Layout tours

If you wish to take photos or videos of the layout, please ask the host for permission. It is rarely refused, but if the host is reluctant, put the camera away. Do not allow your filming to monopolize the best viewing areas or interfere with others’ views and movement. Tripods, large format cameras and bags of any kind are not permitted at layouts on tour.

Prototype and General Interest tours

The tour specific photography policy will be advised in the timetable. Many facilities have commercially sensitive processes. Several require that their worksites not be photographed. Some may require all cameras and cell phones be left on the bus. As a rule of thumb, historical enterprises (e.g. museums) welcome photography, commercial industries usually do not.

Many of you are visiting from outside the local area. Photography from the tour coach, during your travels, is always possible.

What do I do if I find a tour I want is sold out?

We will maintain a “wait list” for tours. We encourage the use of this feature because it offers two potential paths:

  1. You will be in line if and when someone cancels their reservation and
  2. It tells us the level of demand for a given tour and if demand justifies it, we will see what we can do to increase the capacity of the tour or add another section of it.

For tours with sufficient people on the waitlist we may be able to schedule an additional coach.

What is the minimum time between tours that should be allowed?

As a practical matter and based on the experience of many conventions, booking tours with much less than 30 or 45 minute gap carries a risk and a 15 minute gap is not advised. We cannot hold up an afternoon tour because a morning tour is delayed and our policy does not allow for refunds for tours missed because of a missed connection.

We realize that some tours are booked close together due to a variety of scheduling constraints. Since different coaches may be involved with the two adjacent tours, you should not assume that your coach being late will delay the afternoon coach; though that is possible if the two tours do happen to share the same bus. We do not have that information (it will be controlled by the coach company) so we couldn’t advise you on that detail in any case.

Birmingham museum

Example Week

Here’s an example of how you may fill your week.  Final details of tours will be issued in a convention activities pack in 2022.

Sunday

The Convention starts at lunchtime with a traditional Sunday roast dinner followed by a welcome meeting where you can get to know your fellow attendees.  Clinics start and you learn some new modelling skills.

Alternatively, take a trip on the steam train Shakespeare Express and visit scenic Stratford-upon-Avon for the day, the birthplace of Shakespeare.

Monday

Leave at 8am for a trip down to Pendon Museum, a glimpse of English rural life around 1930 through extraordinary dioramas featuring railways, villages and landscapes. We’ll stop for lunch and then take in Didcot Railway Centre in the afternoon where you can see broad gauge and many preserved locomotives.  Get back at 5:30pm and join an organised tour to try a balti for an evening meal.

Tuesday

Leave at 8am for a day trip to London.  You can take a ride on the underground post train and visit the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden or go to the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. This would be a full day tour.

Wednesday

Leave at 8am for a trip up to Crewe to visit the Heritage Centre which combines preserved and real railways on one spot and then on to visit some of the amazing model railways in that area.  Get back at 5pm and catch the Severn Valley dining train for an evening to remember.

Thursday

Have a quiet morning pottering around the convention, attending a few clinics and chatting to fellow attendees. Spend the afternoon using a rail run around ticket for the West Midlands to travel to a wide range of destinations from Worcester to Coventry or even up to Wolverhampton on a tram.  Eat in Birmingham city centre at one of the 100s of available eating places.

Friday

Leave at 9am for a quick hop to the Black Country Museum – a living museum encapsulating the world’s first industrial landscape with buildings, vehicles, people and activities. Get back at 5:30pm and go out on a tour for a traditional fish and chips supper.

Saturday

Visit the train show to see a unique mix of model railway layouts and traders.

Sunday

The convention ends on Sunday and you can visit the train show to catch any last minute deals or check out the layouts you missed the day before or just chill before carrying on to whatever you have planned next.

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