Underleys, Beer, Seaton EX12 3NA Devon
Originally just a small model railway layout and shop adjacent to the Peco plant (Link) that over the years has expanded into a whole entertainment complex. In the summer there are train rides, crazy golf, picnic places, gardens, assorted eating options; whilst in the winter the main restaurant, the children's indoor play station, the shop and the model railway exhibition are the only parts open. The exhibition admission is £3 for adults (£2 for children), which is not very good value - we spent only half an hour looking round, but it was nice and warm on a very cold March morning! Unlike at model railway shows where the exhibits represent real or fictitious places, the layouts on display here make no pretence of being anywhere specific but are titled according to the space in which they could be assembled. Thus a long single line track was labelled Hall/Passageway; a 3ft6in x 1ft6in layout was labelled "Living Room" with a footnote adding "Why not have a railway where you used to have the fish tank?"; and the largest layout was headed "Loft Conversion"! I presume this system was to pre-empt arguments of "We haven't got the space, dear"! I was envious of a lot of the scenery, including a beach and a scout camp in a field complete with a roasting hog over a camp fire. Not all the Peco accessories are of such a high standard though - I was disappointed to observe in the shop that the packets of model runner beans looked almost identical to the tomatoes which in turn bore a distinct similarity to the roses. The inch tall sweetcorn was much more accurately reproduced and I was almost tempted to buy some hops for our Herefordshire layout.
The "Catalunya" layout in the picture was one of the few with a place name although it is an amalgam of several coastal villages south of Barcelona. It featured in the " Customised hobby room" section to show what could be done with lighting effects.
Verdict: worth a visit, as a treat for a child.....or a husband!