The National 2½ Inch Gauge Association
The building of locomotives by amateurs in 2½" gauge is where model engineering, as we know it today, started and flourished in the early 1900s. This was both the largest of the scenic gauges, supported commercial manufacturers and the smallest size that would allow the owner to ride behind his locomotive and actually drive.
The size brought costs within the grasp of many of only modest means who could either purchase ready to run locomotives, sets of machined castings or basic raw materials.
The gauge flourished in the late 1920s and 1930s with the emergence, within the pages of The Model Engineer and English Mechanics magazines of writers such as L. Lawrence, better known under his pen name of LBSC, Henry Greenly and H.P. Jackson, all of whom submitted constructional articles for publication. Designers living in other parts of the world such as J.A. Josslin and P. Eldon Hunt in Canada, Fred Grimke in the USA and Walcott-Wood in New Zealand benefitted from the relatively larger loading gauges of prototypes in those countries and incorporated many of LBSC's features in their designs.
While the more affluent could afford layouts in their own gardens, there was a need for running facilities for the public to use. The Romford club was the first society, in this country, to build a continuous raised track in the early 1930s and go on to instigate the Henderson Trophy in 1938 which was a forerunner of the present day IMLEC competitions.
With the growing prosperity of the 1950s model locomotive designs moved away from small scale engines towards more powerful 3½" gauge versions. Suppliers began to drop parts and castings for the smaller size as demand diminished. By the 1970s the position had become so desperate that there was danger that 2½" gauge would disappear completely.
In May 1975 a group of enthusiasts based mainly within the membership of the Bristol and Cheltenham clubs agreed to form the National 2½" Gauge Association. Its objectives were to preserve access to articles and existing designs, encourage new designs and supply those castings that were not available from the model engineering suppliers. Since those days the Association has flourished, copyright holder's agreement has been obtained to allow us to print several older designs. New designs by Don Young, Martin Evans, Paul Wiese and Derek Collin have been published in The Model Engineer. Chris Barron offers an extensive range of designs from pre-grouping locomotives through to the final BR design of Evening Star. Steve Eaton's narrow gauge design Toby features currently in our Journal.
In the past, when several well-known suppliers ceased trading their drawing masters and pattern equipment vanished with them. It is with great pleasure that we are able to say that the Dave Goodwin patterns for the recent designs like the Eagle, Black Five, Nigel Minor, and Flying Scotsman are in our safe keeping and castings may be readily obtained. In addition, we can supply many castings for the designs by Chris Barron. Many new patterns have been produced, enabling a number of castings to be produced to enable members to build many more locomotives.