Abingdon Exhibition 2023

The 2023 Abrail exhibition happened on Saturday 4th March 2023 at Abingdon and Witney College. 


This year we will be hosting 24 high quality layouts and 10+ traders as well as speakers and demonstrations. It promises to be a great day out for both railway modelling enthusiasts and families alike. Admission £10 on the day or £9 in advance. Under 18s free if accompanied by a paying adult.

You can buy tickets in advance (at discounted rate) here : AbRail at Abingdon & Witney College: Abingdon Campus event tickets from TicketSource

Note that free (but space limited) demonstrations will be happening at 10:45, 11:45, and 13:45.

The Venue

This is our third show at Abingdon and Witney College, and it provides great facilities. There is a plenty of free parking on site, including disabled spaces.  The venue is wheelchair accessible. There will be on-site catering throughout the day, and we try to provide plenty of spots to sit down for a while if needed! 

For Sat-Nav users, the college postcode is OX14 1GG, with the parking entrance off Wootton Road. Those coming by public transport have a 15 minute walk up Bath Street and Wootton road from the X2/X3/35 bus-stops on Stratton Way in central Abingdon, or the X1 bus stops right outside the college. 

Click here for a Map of Abingdon showing the college


We have more space in the college this year, so we’ve booked even more layouts!! This year we have 24 layouts booked to attend, from N-gauge to O-gauge, from big to small, and from pre-grouping to modern image.  Layouts confirmed so far include: 

  • All Cars Stop Here OO Gauge
  • Ambleton Vale N Gauge
  • Ashburton OO Gauge
  • Byway MPD OO Gauge
  • Cannon Bay OO Gauge
  • Caroline Concrete O Gauge
  • Florin Street OO Gauge
  • Frampton on Severn OO Gauge
  • Highfield Road OO Gauge
  • Launceston 009
  • Lighterman’s Yard 2mm finescale
  • Long Melford Junction OO Gauge
  • Merstone OO Gauge
  • Modbury 2mm finescale
  • Mothecombe OO Gauge
  • Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Modellers 009  (Modular Layout, Coleford, and Lesobeng)
  • Penna Lane OO Gauge
  • St Mary Mead OO Gauge
  • South Oxfordshire 16mm NG group 16mm NG
  • Tan y Bwlch 009 (unable to attend)
  • Tedburn St Mary OO Gauge
  • Trinity Dock Street Bridge OO Gauge
  • Wenlock N Gauge
  • William Street Yard OO Gauge (unable to attend)

See the bottom of the page for layout details!

Speakers and Demonstrations

In a new feature for this year, we’re lucky enough to have several notable guest speakers and demonstrators attending the exhibition. They will be running some demonstration sessions during the day; places will be limited, and free numbered tickets will be available from our club stand:

  • Kathy Millatt — possibly most famous as a judge on TV’s ‘Great Model Railway Challenge’, Kathy is a renowned modeller, a regular contributor to magazines, and featured in numerous TV modelling programmes. Kathy will run a clinic on modelling scenic water at 10:45 (free but limited space), and help us judge ‘Best in Show.’  
  • Jeff Pike — an expert in remote control for small models, Jeff will be running a session on RC for your layout at 11:45 (free but limited space).
  • Brian McCulloch —  master layout builder and scratch modeller Brian McCulloch from Braeside Models will be talking about how to ‘scratch build’ original buildings for your layout at 13:45 (free but limited space).  Brian will also have some of his complete and part-built projects on display. 
  • Pendon Museum — Local modelling museum Pendon will again be visiting us to explain how they recreate the 1930’s world of the Great Western mainline through the Vale of White Horse.   
  • Network Railthe source of information on modern-day prototype practice!
  • ADMRC Club Stand — come and find out more about club, take part in the raffle, and perhaps pick up one of our exclusive Abingdon coal merchant (Wm Hudson) wagons in 4mm scale! 


We have at least 11 traders booked for the exhibition, so start saving your pennies to buy lots of model railway goodies! Traders confirmed so far are:

  • Aspire gifts and models
  • JB’s model world
  • N.C.Butler
  • Neil Cresswell Model Railways
  • Brunswick Railways Ltd
  • Kevin’s Trains
  • Model Rail Developments
  • Sunningwell Command Control
  • The Wagon Yard
  • Transport Treasury Pubishing
  • Thunderbolt Models

Layout details

We have a great selection of layouts this year, covering a wide range of scales, eras, and regions.  Please see below for more details of what is on offer where.  

Main Hall

The South Oxfordshire 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers’ Modular Layout is based on modules made to a standard build pattern This enables them to be joined together to create a variety of different layouts depending on  room sizes and the number of boards available. The group will be running their live steam and battery locomotives with associated rolling stock.

Long Melford Junction depicts a station on the Stour Valley line in Suffolk in the late 1950s.  The model includes a 45 lever working signal box, large signal box diagram and working monitor so that members of the public can enjoy watching the detailed operation of the layout which runs to a prototypical timetable.

Ambleton Vale is a fictitious, N gauge, DCC layout set around the 1950s. It depicts an end branch line station which has survived cuts mainly because of a flourishing livestock market, local race course and an increase in commuter traffic. The layout has appeared in both Model Rail magazine and Hornby magazine.

Merstone is a finescale layout depicting an up/down station the Isle of Wight with sidings and signal box in the steam era.  For fun, its owner will also be exhibiting his unique display of Thunderbirds models next to the layout!

Long corridor

The classrooms off the the long corridor are hosting a baker’s dozen of layouts.

Penna Lane represents a servicing centre for vehicles used on the UK’s current privatised railway.  Fuelling, light overhauls, exams and wheel reconditioning are carried out for operating and heritage companies. A commuter station served by electric and diesel also provides commuter services.

Trinity Dock Street Bridge is set on a cold, dismal Monday morning in February 1939 at the busy Hull docks.  Tracks are inlaid into stone setts with many points and tight curves connecting the various quaysides with the yards to the West of the city.  As trains move about the buildings and rattle over the swing bridge, the South Easterly wind not only brings the poor weather off the North Sea but also the threat of war from the near continent.

Mothecombe is a layout built and run by the junior section of High Wycombe & District Model Railway Society.  It depicts a rural cross country route in South Devon during the late 1950s and early 1960s, operated by the Western and Southern Regions.

St. Mary Mead featured in numerous of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories, and has been used as a location for this fictitious station which features a range of Southern, Somerset & Dorset and early BR stock.

Caroline Concrete is a 7mm narrow gauge shunting layout based on the Tallington works in Lincolnshire.  Materials and part-finished parts are moved around as part of the assembly and stocking process.

Cannon Bay is a modern image layout featuring plenty of trains and buses.

Modbury is a 2mm finescale layout representing a GWR through station as it could have appeared in the Edwardian period. The track is built to represent Brunel’s Baulk Road, and locos, stock and buildings are mainly scratch built from various prototypes.

Lighterman’s Yard represents a finescale, fictitious goods yard in South East London from the late 1950’s and early 1960s. It is owned and operated by the Kent & Essex Group of the 2mm Association.

Ashburton, which is rarely exhibited, depicts the line to this much loved Devon station in the early 1950s.

Florin Street models the Leeds Tramways around Sovereign Street between 1948-54. During this time the fleet consisted of c.400 tramcars, with a large variety of types including rebuilt and experimental cars giving Leeds one of the most diverse and interesting fleets in the UK.

All Cars Stop Here depicts a Hong Kong street scene where trams run in the Central District.

Frampton on Severn depicts a busy, GWR branch line terminus in Gloucestershire in the late 1950s and early 1960s when steam locos were being replaced by diesels.

Byway is a fictional, small BR urban Motive Power Depot set in the late steam era. The layout is used at shows to demonstrate the owner’s collection of sound equipped locos.

Adult Skills Centre (via walkway)

This year’s exhibition is bigger, and we’ve out-grown the main building!!  The adult skills centre is accessible by a short outdoor walkway, and is hosting a further seven layouts!

Wenlock represents a small branch terminus set in rural Shropshire. The layout operates through 4 defined eras from 1945 to the present day, with the era on show displayed on the overhead lighting rig. Keep an eye out for everyone’s favorite little blue engine – children are more than welcome to have a go!

Launceston depicts an existing, privately owned/operated, narrow gauge steam railway in Cornwall.  The layout won the prestigious David Glascott trophy for best narrow gauge model railway at the national Warley Model Railway Show as well as having won ‘best in show’ at multiple other railway exhibitions.

Tedburn St. Mary is set to the west of Exeter in the post-war period and runs both GWR and Southern stock. The layout is highly detailed and has numerous cameos and special effects.

Highfield Road represents a fictional location between London and Bristol.  The platform has platform loops, a bay line, freight yard and small depot.  Stock in use includes FGW, GWR, Cross Country, Freightliner and various freight operating companies.

Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Modellers is a group of enthusiasts for all aspects of narrow gauge modelling.  The group is showing three different layouts at AbRail.  The first is a modular layout – different members have created different modules but to a standard specification so that these can be joined together; Coleford is based on a real railway in the Forest of Dean; and Lesobeng represents South Africa in the early 20th Century.

Please don’t forget to visit our very own, family-themed Thomas the Tank Engine layout!