End of the line for St Albans Model Railway Exhibition

Crowds fill the Alban Arena for the annual St Albans model railway exhibition

Crowds fill the Alban Arena for the annual St Albans model railway exhibition - Credit: Archant

A January flagship event at the Alban Arena is moving to Stevenage next year after 30 years in St Albans.

The annual St Albans Model Railway Exhibition, organised by the Chiltern Model Railway Association, will set up at the Arena for the final time next weekend, January 16 and 17.

From 2017 it will move to the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre which will offer a chance for the exhibition to expand.

David Crossley, director of the association and the exhibition manager, said they had always enjoyed a good relationship with the Arena but as a theatre, it was not the easiest place in which to hold an exhibition which features working rail layouts as well as trade and other stands.

Members of the exhibition had concerns about how dark it was in the Arena and while the association had utilised every bit of the building including the balcony, it was not felt to be good from an activities point of view.

He said that the district council had not helped with its restrictions on banners advertising the event and parking policies which had made loading and unloading difficult.

By comparison the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, a large square building, had car parks around it which could be hired for personal use, triple doors to enable access and was right next to both a railway and bus station

Most Read

David said that when they had told the Arena team in November that the exhibition would be moving to Stevenage, they were ‘understanding straightaway’. He added: “It is a wrench because the Arena is quite unique in its way.”

He expected that visitor numbers might fall initially with the move to Stevenage but hoped the association would soon be able to recoup numbers in other ways.

Next weekend’s exhibition opens at 10am on both Saturday and Sunday, closing at 5.30pm on Saturday and at 4.30pm on Sunday.

It will feature more than 20 working layouts, many of which are relatively new to the exhibition circuit, as well as specialist and general trade stands, several demonstrations, static exhibits and society stands.

Periscopes are made available for children or others who need assistance in viewing high layouts.

A free vintage bus service runs between the Arena and both St Albans railway stations at 20 minute intervals.

Admission is £8 for adults which includes two children aged over four to 16 and £4 for additional unaccompanied children aged 16 or under. Because the Arena is not suitable for people unable to manage stairs, they and their carers are given free admission. Tickets are available on the door on from the box office on 01727 844488.