Toy railway tunnel, 0-gauge, timber, possibly made by World Model Co, 9 Crombie Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1930-1970
This timber toy railway tunnel was produced as a line-side accessory for an 0-gauge toy railway layout. Between the First and Second World Wars, 0-gauge toy railways were very popular, especially those produced by Hornby Trains made by Meccano Ltd in Liverpool, England. During the Second World War the supply of overseas toys to Australia diminished due to limitations on imports and the lack of shipping. A flourishing Australian toy industry developed with numerous small works turning out toy trains in Australian liveries and configurations. For the toy railway enthusiasts an array of accessories including stations, platforms, signal boxes, engine houses, bridges, viaducts and tunnels added to the naturalism of the home layout. Although the manufacturer of this tunnel is unknown, a similar one was made by the Melbourne firm, World Model Co. Inside the tunnel wall is a price sticker of 11 shillings and 6 pence from the Sydney department store, Anthony Hordern & Sons.
As homes became smaller by the 1960s the 0-gauge size toy trains had given way to the smaller 00-gauge and the Australian toy manufacturers were unable to compete with cheaper American and later Asian imports. The materials for line-side accessories also changed from pressed tin and timber to moulded plastic.
This tunnel is representative of the locally made toy infrastructure made both before and after the Second World War. Although probably made in Melbourne the tunnel's sale through Anthony Hordern's store gives it Sydney significance.
Curator, Transport & Toys
Macdonald, Bruce, "Spring, Spark & Steam: An illustrated guide to Australasian toy & model trains", Australian Model Railway Magazine, Matraville, New South Wales, 2005, p.125.
The maker of this toy tunnel is unknown but an image of a similar toy railway tunnel appears in Bruce Macdonald's book "Spring, Spark & Steam: An illustrated guide to Australasian toy & model trains". The photograph shows a timber tunnel made by the World Model Co., a toy making firm established by A.J. Fisher at 9 Crombie Lane, Melbourne during the 1930s which specialised in making toys of timber. Fisher's toys included accessories for railway layouts including 6 different styles of toy railway tunnels, signal cabins, water towers and engine sheds. During the Second World War toy production was suspended but resumed in 1945, moving to the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir under Fisher's son, Ray Fisher, until the mid. 1960s.
This tunnel has the price sticker from the Sydney department store, Anthony Hordern & Sons. This firm had been established in Sydney in 1823 with a very large store being built on the corner of George, Goulburn and Pitt Streets in Sydney in 1905 called the Palace Emporium. The firm closed in 1969.
The donor bought this toy tunnel around 2003 at the weekend markets held at Rozelle Public School. Rozelle is an inner-west suburb of Sydney. Though of a home-made appearance, his interest was sparked when he saw the price sticker of Anthony Hordern's inside.