For Christmas 1960 I got a Tri-ang railways set. The layout shown below is from Christmas 1961 - my present that year a puppy.

The layout would take hours to set up and mean moving the furniture in the dinning room. This also meant that I could only leave it set up for at most a couple of days at a time.

My primary school friend's family where building a house on the small holding they had and in the attic was a huge layout that you could stand in the middle of with the table at waist height. In their garden they had a stream loco. None of my other friends had, to my knowledge a railway layout.

I collected a few pieces, added a Smokey Joe engine that would puff out smoke, a Royal mail carriage and helicopter. The small figures and buildings where mostly from Germany.

On visits to Celle and Hanover I looked to look at the Germany toy shops. In one shop in Hanover they had a permanent display of a model railway and a whole floor dedicated to the hobby. In those days my mental map of towns was where the toy shops where.

By the time I was 14 toys where put aside as I struggled to catch up with the work in my new school. The train set and other toys went up to the attic and stayed there until I moved into my second home and my father took them down from the attic and brought them to me.

The years in the attic had done some damage. The hot summers and cold winter conditions meant that some of the plastic had warped. Some where brittle and even the die cast metal parts would snap easily. The majority remained as if new. 

In 1989 I visited my friend Ravi Joshi and his family in Pune. His father and the whole family had an interest in model railways and I would post them the latest catalogues from England and Germany. At this time Bhau Joshi had all the Marklin trains and layout still in boxes but had plans for building a permanent layout as part of the house they where building. The hall was ready in 1991 and the museum completed in 1998. B.S. Joshi was infectious in his passion and an advocate for model  railways.

Model Railway History

Marklin had sold the first toy mass market train set in 1891. In 1904 a group of English hobbyists began building model railways and worked with a toy maker Bing to create various scale. It was not until the first world war that British and US companies began to build trains for hobbyists.

Electric models where introduced just before the First World War.  This lead to the creation of the first table-top model railroad in 1923. Made by Bassett-Lowke, a British company, the railway was done to OO scale, or 1:76. The HO scale is 1:48. Following the Second World War the trains where made of plastic, lighter and cheaper and became very popular in the 1950s.

Rovex Plastics Ltd was founded in 1946 by Alexander Gregory Vanetzian, who made toys for Marks & Spencer. Venetzian was asked to develop an electric toy train set for Christmas 1950. He delivered the product but although the company had found larger premises in a former Brewery in Richmond, it was constrained financially. Lines Bros were looking to expand into railways and so they purchased Rovex. Their products sold under the Tri-ang Railways name from 1951. To give room for development they moved the company now Rovex Scale Models Ltd to a brand new factory built at Margate, in Kent, in 1954.

Hornby Dublo, a division of Meccano Ltd, had stopped production and Lines Bros. Ltd was invited to buy them out.  The new combined toy railways was marketed as Tri-ang Hornby.  Lines Bros collapsed in 1971, and was sold off. The model railways were sold to the Dunbee-Combex-Marx group, but the rights to the Tri-ang brand were sold elsewhere; accordingly (the Hornby name being established and recognised), from 1 January 1972, the model railways were rebranded Hornby Railways. [see links below].

Gerald McMullon


 Last updated 3rd February 2010