Toy steam locomotive, Hornby No.2 Locomotive 'LNER 2711', 4-4-0 type, part of Hornby No.2 LNER goods train set, 0-gauge, clockwork operated, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1925-1927
This toy steam locomotive, made between 1925 and 1927, is one of the early toy trains 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 Hornby No. 2 Locomotive 2711 was designed early in 1921 and appeared later that year built in the Meccano-style 'nut and bolt' construction. According to Chris and Julie Graebe, in the "The Hornby Gauge 0 System", the locomotive body was an enlarged version of the Hornby No.1 Locomotive 2710, with a longer boiler, larger cab and more powerful clockwork mechanism. It also featured Hornby's first use of a bogie mounted on a swivelling bracket for the leading wheels. No cylinders were fitted as the locomotive was said to represent on inside-cylinder type. Liveries were issued in four of the largest private British railway companies at the time, GN (Great Northern Railway) green, CR (Caledonian Railways) blue, MR (Midland Railway) red, and LNWR (London and North Western Railway) black. They all had the number '2711' on a brass plate on the cab side.
After the forced groupings of over 300 separate railway companies into four in 1923, Meccano released the LMS (London Midland and Scottish Railway) version in passenger red and goods black and the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) model in green during 1923-1924. Late in 1924 and early 1925 the LNER black goods No.2 locomotive was released and a green GW livery in 1926. From early in 1927 the No.2 Locomotive was available fitted for the Hornby Control system. At the same time it was redesigned to eliminate the nut and bolt construction system and replaced with the tab and slot method. By then it was well and truly realised that boys had no wish to take apart and rebuild their Hornby locomotives and rolling stock.
Up until now all the locomotives carried the same number '2711' on their tenders but in 1927 the GW locomotive transfers were revised and the splashers had 'Great (crest) Western' while the cab sides had the number '7283' even though the tenders still carried '2711'. In 1928 new liveries for the LMS, LNER and GW locomotives saw the company initials removed from the splashers, the number of boiler bands decreased to three on the passenger locomotives and the driving wheels changed from cast-iron to diecast alloy. Early in 1929 a SR (Southern Railway) version in green passenger and black goods models was released. Their tenders carried the lettering 'Southern A760' for the green and 'Southern E510' for the black one. The Southern locomotives were the last produced in the No.2 Locomotive range and they were all replaced in 1929 with the No.2 Special Locomotives.
Graebe, Chris and Julie, "The Hornby Gauge 0 System", New Cavendish Books, London, 2002
This toy steam locomotive 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.