My Experience of Henley 2015 (Neil Bedford)
For those who are not familiar with it, 'The Henley Gathering' is one of the UK's largest and oldest meetings of Meccano enthusiasts. As the name suggests, this great event is held annually in Henley-on-Thames, which is a lovely town in its own right, situated on the river. This gathering has been going for many, many years and I have very fond memories of going to Henley as a young boy with my late Grandfather (Stan Bedford), who was a real Meccano nut and was without doubt responsible for my own enthusiasm for this great hobby.
As a lad I would build what I considered to be a great model and would proudly take it to Henley, along with my Grandfather's latest creation (invariably a locomotive or clock) but I would always spend the drive back to London terribly frustrated that my efforts had looked so feeble next to the wonderful things which I had seen during the day. I would sit in my bedroom as soon as I got home, dismantling my creation in absolute disgust and promising myself that the next one had to be better - something which I still do on a fairly regular basis even now!
As usual I travelled up this year with Richard Smith and Pete Evans, with the usual lively discussion around Meccano, World politics, cars and life in general. Richard wound the Civic up to Warp Factor Five and we arrived around half past nine by which time the car park at the Christchurch Centre was full, so a little constructive parking was required (note to self: leave thirty minutes earlier next year).
We were greeted by the jovial Eddie Oatley who I have know since those early days with Grandad and were ushered to a prime spot in the main hall. Pete brought his Marion digger and Richard brought his 'Skellington' on his tricycle whilst I brought along my Hannover biplane. I again reminded myself how nice it was to have a manageable model which could be set up in a couple of minutes and went off to see what early bargains could be had from Dave Taylor and Mike Rhoades. Unusually for Richard, his model had a few teething problems but these were soon ironed out by the maestro and all three models ran well all day.
We were joined by John Day and his pal Graham who made the long journey in the TR7, by Martin Arnold who brought along a lovely motor coach in light red and green, by David Worth who was with another one with a long journey from Devon and by Malcolm with his latest Jodrell Bank model. The Henley Gathering is a great chance to catch up with old friends and is perhaps the 'cosiest' of the large get-togethers, with a lovely atmosphere and great food.
As always there were plenty of good models to enjoy (including several live steam examples in the courtyard at the back of the Centre) but for me it is often the smaller models which I like best. My favourite this year was an American car which was running on plastic road wheels which had been carefully painted to have a 'whitewall' effect. My own current project is also an American car and I took plenty of inspiration from this very clever piece of modelling. My current fetish for very cheap and rather tatty Meccano was fully satisfied courtesy of Mr Taylor's bargain basement and we all had a tremendous day out. If you have never been to the Henley Gathering then you really should put it in your calendar for next year - the first Saturday in September - you will not be disappointed.