Toy railway wagon, Hornby No.50 rotary tipping wagon, 'Trinidad Lake Asphalt For Roads And Roofs', 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1957-1969
This toy railway rotary tipping wagon, made between 1957 and 1969, is one of the items of rolling stock built by Meccano Ltd for their 0-gauge range of Hornby toy trains. 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.
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. 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 there.
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. 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 tanks and signal boxes. They were exported from the Liverpool factory to many countries 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 removed from the traditional children's toy trains. Many of the original collectors have kept and added to their interwar childhood 0-gauge toy train layouts with stations, tunnels, landscapes and rolling stock forming a historical diorama of twentieth century land transport.
Marsh, Hugo, "Miller's Toys & Games Antiques Checklist", Reed International Books Limited, London, 1995
Curator, Science & Industry
The rotary tipping wagon first appeared in 1923 with the wording 'Rotary Tipper' on one side and a transfer with 'Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons, London' on the other. At first the base was black but it changed later in 1923 to olive green. The colour of the wagon changed to orange in 1926 still with the same McAlpine transfers. These continued until about 1930 when 'Meccano' transfers replaced them. Automatic couplings were introduced in 1931. During the early 1930s the colour changed again from orange to a yellow tipper on a blue base. The name 'No.1 Rotary Tipping Wagon' was applied in 1934 with the introduction of the No.0 version. The 'Meccano' transfers were replaced in 1936 with 'Trinidad Lake Asphalt' in the same colours. The livery changed again in 1939 from a blue base to matt black. After the Second World War production resumed in 1948 with a new style wagon base used from 1949 and the tipper colour changed from yellow to buff. The No.1 version was available until 1959.
In 1957 the No.50 rotary tipper wagons were introduced with a gloss black base, buff tipper and 'Trinidad Lake Asphalt' transfers The No.50 types were the last new series of wagons to be made by Meccano Ltd in the 0-gauge range of toy trains. They were manufactured when this gauge was on the decline and the smaller 00-gauge taking precedence in production and sales. Some of the other goods items made in the No.50 series were a goods van, refrigerator van, brake van and a 'Saxa Salt' private owner's wagon. A good indicator that a wagon is a No.50-type is the addition of the dummy brake lever, except on the brake van. The No.50 rotary tipping wagon was available until 1969.
Graebe, Chris and Julie, "The Hornby Gauge 0 System", New Cavendish Books, London, 2002.
This toy railway 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.