Toy railway wagon, Hornby No.1 'LMS' timber wagon, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1927-1930
This toy railway timber wagon, made between 1927 and 1930, is one of items of rolling stock built by Meccano Ltd for their 0-gauge range of Hornby toy train layouts. 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
Margaret Simpson, 3 December 200
The No.1 timber wagon first appeared in 1922 in an olive green enamel with no lettering or wording. The following year a model with 'No.1 timber wagon' in white letters on the sole plates appeared. In 1924 this was retained on one sole plate and the other had either the railway company initials 'LMS' or 'LNER'. The next year saw the soleplates feature only the company initials. In 1927 a 'GW' version was introduced and the 'LNER' initials were replaced with just 'NE'. Also in 1927 the colour of the stanchions changed from olive green to red for all versions and the straight-cut stanchions changed to a rounded finish. In 1928 an 'SR' version came on the market in a brown livery with red stanchions. Early in 1930 the company initials were discontinued and automatic couplings introduced in 1931. By the end of 1931 the colour of the wagons changed from olive green to red with green stanchions. The No.1 timber wagons remained the same until about 1933 when red wagons with yellow stanchions were made. The number of planks was reduced from three to two in 1934 and in 1939 black wagons with red stanchions were manufactured.
After the Second World War production of No.1 timber wagons resumed 1946 in the pre-War colours of black and red. They remained available until 1959.
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.