Toy railway wagon, Hornby No.1 lumber wagon, 0-gauge, metal, Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, 1933-1939
Trains were the first form of modern transport to be reproduced as toys. Wooden pull-along trains were available in Britain from the 1840s, not long after the commercial introduction of full size railways. By the 1870s the wooden toy train was replaced with tin-plate locomotives, hauling carriages, which were often powered by clockwork or steam propulsion. The German toy manufacturers dominated the world market at this time. The First World War broke this monopoly and the rise of patriotism in Britain saw an emphasis on local toy production.
The scene was set for the English inventor of Meccano, Frank Hornby, to market his 0-gauge trains in 1920. Hornby trains became the most comprehensive ever produced in Britain. The series developed into finely-detailed locomotives, as well as commercial vans, wagons and tankers together with a range of accessories including stations, goods sheds, signals, crossings, water towers and signal boxes. They were exported from the Liverpool factory to all corners of the British Empire including Australia, Canada, Egypt, New Zealand, Rhodesia and South Africa. In Australia Hornby trains of the four major British railway companies became as familiar to boys as Australian rolling stock.
Two years after Frank Hornby's death in 1936 Meccano Ltd introduced the smaller Hornby Dublo (00-gauge) table top trains which were more affordable and convenient than the 0-gauge. This gauge became the most popular type of toy trains for the next 50 years. From the late 1950s no further effort was devoted to 0-gauge trains and by the 1960s their popularity had diminished. Today model railway production is aimed at adult collectors and is increasingly distant from the traditional children's toy railways. Many of the original collectors have kept and added to their interwar childhood 0-gauge toy railway layouts with stations, tunnels, landscapes and rolling stock forming an historical diorama of twentieth century land transport.
The No.1 lumber wagon is one of the items of freight rolling stock made by Meccano Ltd from 1923 for their 0-gauge range of Hornby toy railways. The Hornby toy trains and accessories are a microcosm of railway social and technological history in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century.
Marsh, Hugo, "Miller's Toys & Games Antiques Checklist", Reed International Books Limited, London, 1995
Margaret Simpson, 14 August, 2007
The Hornby No.1 lumber wagon was first made in early 1923 and originally came in an enamelled olive-green base and black bolsters which were soon changed to red. In late 1924 company initials 'LMS' ( London Midland and Scottish Railway) or 'L&NER' (London and North Eastern Railway) were added in small gold lettering to both sides of the base. Early in 1924 the company initials were retained on one side (except 'L&NER' was replaced with 'LNER') and the other side replaced with 'No.1 Lumber Wagon' in white transfers. The transfers were removed in 1925 and the company letters appeared on both sides. A Great Western Railway model appeared in 1926 with 'GW' on the sides and 'NE' replaced the 'LNER' lettering soon after. Two holes were added to the top of the bolsters in early 1927 and a light brown 'SR' Southern Railway wagon with blue bolsters was made from 1928 to 1930. Automatic couplings were used from 1931.
A new livery came in from 1933 with the olive-green bases changing to light green and the red bolsters changing to yellow. By this time company initials had disappeared. This continued until 1939 when black wagons with red bolsters were used.
After the Second World War the colours remained the same but with a post-War base made between 1948 and 1957. The No.50 lumber wagons, with the glossy black No.50 series base, replaced the No.1 lumber wagon from 1957 and remained in the Hornby catalogue until 1969.
Graebe, Chris and Julie, "The Hornby Gauge 0 System", New Cavendish Books, London, 2002
This toy railway lumber wagon is part of a large collection purchased by the Museum in 1985 from the tin toy collector, Ken Finlayson. As a boy, Finlayson admired steam trains but never owned a train set. As an adult he began collecting Hornby model trains, and his interest spread to other toy trains and tin toys. He increased his collection at auctions, swap meets and market stalls, and through his connections with toy dealers and other serious collectors. Some toys were simply found sitting neglected on the shelves of remote country newsagencies, brand new and never opened.
Finlayson's knowledge and love of toys brought him a collection of nearly 2000 items, including highly collectable tin-plate toys manufactured by respected names such as Carette, Bing, Marklin and Lehmann, as well as a variety of other German, English and Japanese makers. The Finlayson collection contains every type of transport toy - cars, trucks, tractors, fire engines, buses, motorcycles, aeroplanes, ships and trains, as well as novelty toys, robots, kitchen toys and Meccano sets. It represents the type of toys that were available in Australia throughout most of the twentieth century, including ones made here by Boomaroo, Wyn-toy, Cyclops, Ferris and Robilt. These Australian toys were usually built from heavy-gauge pressed steel rather than thin tin plate, making them sturdy enough for rough treatment in Australian backyards and sandpits.