Members who have read the Chairman’s Column in August SMT will know that when I wrote the column, on Sunday 2nd August, the Association was in discussion with the Arena regarding rescheduling the 2020 National Garden Railway Show, which at that time was planned for Saturday 14th November 2020.

Discussions are now complete, and the Association regrets that in the light of the on-going uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have agreed with the Arena that:

  • The show planned for Saturday 14th November 2020 will not go ahead
  • The next National Garden Railway show will now take place on Saturday 26th June 2021

It will take place later in the year than normal so if restrictions on indoor events are tightened over winter, which could happen if there is a resurgence in the virus, there is time for the restrictions to return to levels which permit the staging of indoor events.

We will continue working with the Arena and the local authority to make sure that our show is compliant with the prevailing protocols for indoor events.  We expect these to include entry by ticket sold in advance only, for all attendees to be scanned in and out, extending therefore to traders, societies, layout operators and stewards, and restrictions on crowd density.

The events industry is in discussion with government regarding the average space, in square metres, which must be available to individual visitors.  To comply with these restrictions, we may need to impose limits on visitor numbers, and/or restrictions on the duration of visitors’ stay inside the venue.  We will not reopen ticket sales until these restrictions are understood and we will be transparent with ticket purchasers as to the terms of entry.

Tickets bought for the 2020 show will remain valid for the June 2021 show.  If you already hold a ticket for the April 2020 show which you bought online, you’ll notice that a scannable code is present on the ticket.  We believe that this can be used to comply with Track and Trace requirements, which we still expect to be in place for indoor events in June next year, but we will reissue tickets if this proves not to be the case.  A small number of tickets have been bought using the form provided in February 2020 Bulletin.  These also have a scannable code which we will verify is suitable for our purposes.  If it isn’t, we will reissue these tickets.

If you have purchased a ticket for the April 2020 show you can still obtain a refund by emailing  If we increase ticket prices for the June 2021 show, we will not apply a retrospective increase to tickets which have already been paid for and retained.

We hope and will plan for the same high levels of trader, society and layout support at the June 2021 show that have characterised the National Garden Railway Show since its inception.  This will require that we all respect whatever social distancing protocol is in place at the time of the show.  Rows of eager modellers, sometime many rows deep, in front of traders or layouts, cannot be a feature of the June 2021 show.  We will need to keep ourselves and our traders and societies safe.  This need not stand in the way of seeing all that’s new and exciting in the hobby, but it will require different behaviours by everyone at the show.

The Association stages the National Garden Railway Show once a year primarily for the benefit of the members who attend.  The show doesn’t intend to subsidise wider Association activity, nor does it intend to be a drain on wider Association resources, so we manage the show to break even, or as close to this as possible.  This is how we’ll approach the June 2021 show.  We will need members’ support to achieve this, not just as visitors, but as stewards during Friday setup, as we run the show on the Saturday and as we tear down after all the visitors have left.  Hopefully Covid-19 will be in sufficient control by June next year for members, traders, societies and layouts to feel confident attending.  We’ll need everyone’s support to be successful.

We’ll make further announcements as the planning for the June 2021 show progresses, in SMT, here and on social media.  I’d like to thank the Arena for their flexibility and support in what has been a difficult but necessary change to our original plans.  I’d like to close by reiterating that the decision to reschedule the November 2020 show has not been taken lightly and is a unanimous decision of the Board of the Association  We regret that this is necessary but believe it is the right thing to do at this time.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary