My friend, Mark Dance, just sent me a link to the Pendon Museum website. It’s been updated since the last time I checked in, and might be worth a look if you’ve not seen it before.
I was first introduced to Pendon more than twenty years ago, when I was in university. Leafing through the discount bin at a used book store in Ottawa, I found a grubby copy of Model Railway Journal #16 (not Model Railroad Journal). It had no cover, and apart from model trains it wasn’t about anything I was interested in. But it was only 50 cents or something. So I bought it.
Inside was an article by Chris Pilton about building farm wagons in 4 mm scale. He had built two 4-wheel wagons, each perhaps 3 cm long, with excrutiatingly fine detail. Some of the pieces of wood had to have been a millimetre or two in length. The Pendon site has a photo of one of them.
The kicker was that one of the wagons was built to an Oxfordshire style, and the other to a Berkshire style, because they’re different. This was the moment when I finally understood finescale and realized it is what excites me.
Finescale is about careful observation of the prototype and modelling what is there with as much sensitivity as we can muster. Finescale is about finding the beauty in the mundane. It is about making exceptional models of the unexceptional. It is about unwavering dedication to the scale and the prototype. Finescale is the ethos that drives Pembroke, and indeed all my modelling.
Years later, when I found Chris Pilton’s wagons on display in the Vale Scene at Pendon, I almost cried. To this day, visiting Pendon, is a bit of a spiritual experience for me. I don’t know if he’s still around (a quick Google search turns up only old references) but one day I would like to thank Chris Pilton for setting me on a course that has lead to so many challenges, so much interest and engagement, and occasionally a bit of fun.