A visit to Bont…
John Wooden, of Isle of Stoner fame, has recently built a small exhibition layout named simply ‘Bont’…
Why you may ask, a diversion from the Isle of Stoner? Well in his own words, despite not wanting to model North Wales narrow gauge he had acquired quite a lot of it! Bont is the result of a home for that stock, alongside it's holiday home on the Isle of Stoner itself. Why 'Bont'? (which of course is bridge in Welsh) - not pictured in my photos as that section isn't quite finished yet, it features a rather lovely high viaduct just to the left of the slate walled trackage in these photos!
I took a long a few locomotives to play with - my Neil Sayer La Meuse, a French 600mm prototype ran beautifully but was a little too big for the layout really, that didn't stop me taking a few photos of her with a slate train though! This model was born of an era where I was really pushing my 009 modelling, and I collected a range of French 600mm sugar beat related models with every intention of a layout... alas that never happened and the collection was sold off, apart from this wonderful kit.
John's hand can be seen in the scenery, it has the same feel as the Isle of Stoner, but more subdued. He said to me 'I'm deliberately slowing down and not rushing' and you can tell. Things feel more deliberate and the result is stunning. It's such an enjoyable composition.
John hate's ballasting, and the track is all buried in plaster (a bit like the Rowland's mix on my own Dyfrdwy Tramway). This time though it's really another level - a mix of textured Games Workshop and ohther artists acrylics combined with a mid grey weathering powder have created this beautiful blend of colours, textures and shadow. It truly is lovely to look at - although it does need a bit of cleaning up as the inside of the rail heads have a few stray grains and plaster in places causing running issues.
I always thing the quality of a model can be really understood when you knock out the colour. Colour can be a distraction, and disguise elements that otherwise would jar - yet in black and white the layout still sings. Look at this lovely composition of a Quarry Hunslet towing it's replacement up to the quarry (ignore the fact it's a 006.6 Alan Keef from the 1980s and not a Ruston of the 1930s!). Look at the textures and doesn't it all just feel lovely. So well balanced, a real triumph John, you should be incredibly proud of this! For those that want to see a little more, I'd say visit John's blog, but he doesn't really keep that up to date anymore (sadly!) so his Instagram may give you a few more shots of the layouts construction as well as some rather enjoyable but distinctive videos of electronic music!
I really enjoyed my visit, playing trains, sat chatting in his front room with the log burner. A wonderful way to spend a few hours, I will be back soon!