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About Hornby Hornby   is   a   household   name   and   is   famous   as   the   UK   brand   leader   in   the   model   railway   hobby.   The   company’s   founder   was   Frank Hornby   (1863   -   1936)   who   applied   for   a   patent   in   1901   to   protect   an   invention   he   called   ‘Improvements   in   Toy   or   Educational Devices   for   Children   and   Young   People’.   Nobody   then   could   have   imagined   how   this   product   would   influence   the   model   railway   hobby that we know today. The Beginning of Hornby Frank   Hornby   was   granted   his   patent   and   soon   put   the   invention   into   production   under   the   name   ‘Mechanics   Made   Easy’.   This   led to   the   establishment   of   Meccano   Ltd   in   1907.   Such   was   the   success   of   the   Company,   Frank   Hornby   had   to   regularly   move   his factory to new and larger premises. Meccano was to become one of the classic toys of all time. Meccano Production Meccano   production   continued   during   the   First   World   War   and   Hornby   took   the   opportunity   to   introduce   toy   trains   in   1920.     Hornby   Trains   were   powered   by   a   high   quality   clockwork   motor,   made   of   metal   pressings   held   together   by   Meccano   nuts   and   bolts, and ‘0’ gauge in size. Hornby   Trains   were   an   instant   success   and   the   company   was   quick   to   introduce   more   engines   and   accessories.   In   1925   the   first Hornby   electric   train   was   produced,   operating   from   a   mains   supply   of   100-250   volts.   By   1929,   Hornby   had   evolved   a   much   safer system and electric models worked from a six volt DC source. Hornby Dublo and Tri-ang Hornby In   1938,   Hornby   Dublo   (‘00’)   was   launched.   This   was   approximately   half   the   size   of   the   ‘0’   gauge   system.   The   new   locomotives   had cast   metal   bodies   rather   than   pressed   metal,   and   the   buildings   were   made   of   wood.   Both   clockwork   and   electric   sets   were available   before   the   Second   World   War,   although   these   were   limited   to   Sir   Nigel   Gresley,   an   LNER   A4   Class   Pacific,   and   an   LNER Class N2 tank locomotive in the liveries of the ‘big four’ companies of the time (GWR, LMS, LNER and SR). Production   stopped   during   the   Second   World   War   (1939   -   1945)   but   Hornby   Dublo   soon   reappeared   once   the   war   was   over, although   without   a   clockwork   range.   By   the   late   1950s,   it   was   clear   that   Hornby   Dublo   was   losing   ground   to   its   competitors   and changed from a three-rail system to the established two-rail track system in 1959. Hornby   came   under   increasing   pressure   from   rival   company   Tri-ang   Railways,   who   had   developed   plastic   bodied   trains   and   carried out   its   manufacturing   at   a   purpose-built   factory   in   Margate,   Kent.   Hornby   Dublo   and   Tri-ang   Railways   rivalled   each   other   during the   early   1950s   and   following   the   acquisition   in   1964   of   Meccano   Ltd   was   taken   over   by   Lines   Bros   (the   parent   company   of   Rovex Scale Models Ltd, manufactures of Tri-ang Railways), in 1965 and became Tri-ang Hornby. Production   of   Hornby   Dublo   ceased   in   1964   and   some   of   the   tooling   was   purchased   by   G&R   Wrenn   Ltd   (another   subsidiary   of   Lines Bros.) to launch Tri-ang Wrenn in 1967. The   Tri-ang   Hornby   period   is   best   remembered   by   many   for   the   change   to   British   Rail   blue   liveries   on   diesel   locomotives,   the introduction   of   pre-Nationalisation   liveries   for   steam   locomotives   and   the   launch   of   Battle   Space   and   Battle   Zone.   Some   of   the locomotives   produced   during   this   time   included   the   E3000,   Hymek,   Class   37,   M7,   Hall   Class,   Coronation   Class,   Flying   Scotsman   and Evening Star. The   Tri-ang   Group   was   disbanded   and   sold   in   1971   and   the   model   railway   system   which   had   in   1972   been   known   as   Tri-ang   Hornby was   renamed   Hornby   Railways   in   January.   Even   though   the   name   changed,   production   continued   at   the   Margate   factory.   The specification   of   a   large   part   of   the   range   was   also   upgraded   to   make   it   more   attractive   to   adult   enthusiasts   and   improvements were   carried   out   to   provide   finer   scale   wheels,   wire   handrails   on   locomotives,   better   paint   finish   on   plastic   bodies   and   high definition printing of logos. From Hornby Railways to Hornby Group Plc About   Hornby   RailwaysThere   was   a   steady   flow   of   new   locomotives   during   the   1970s   including   the   A4,   ‘Footballer’,   King,   Patriot and   Duchess   Classes.   New   diesels   included   the   High   Speed   Train   (HST)   which   became   a   popular   model   instantly.   At   the   same   time a new range of regional and BR Mk3 coaches were introduced, which would serve the system for many years. Other   products   included   a   3   1/2”   gauge   steam   powered   model   of   Stephenson’s   Rocket,   Zero   1   (the   forerunner   to   DCC)   and   a model of the ill-fated tilting Advanced Passenger Train (APT). In   1980   the   company,   now   known   as   Hornby   Hobbies   Ltd,   became   an   independent   company   and   on   29   October   1986   was   floated   on the Unlisted Securities Market, becoming a public company. Changes   taking   place   on   British   Railways   and   privatisation   of   the   railways   at   this   time   brought   several   new   eye   catching   liveries that   were   eagerly   modelled   by   Hornby.   The   demand   for   these   liveries   and   higher   standards   of   modelling   led   to   a   number   of   models being retooled. New products also included a Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends range, based on the television series. The   Thomas   series   was   launched   in   1985   at   the   same   time   as   other   new   models   were   added   to   the   Hornby   range,   including   BR’s electric Class 90 and 91 locomotives and Mk4 InterCity coaches. Today,   more   privatised   companies   using   the   railway   system   have   brought   a   further   choice   of   new   and   diverse   liveries   to   model.     All   Hornby   manufacturing   was   moved   to   China   in   1995   and   the   first   totally   new   ‘Far   East’   model   was   a   Rebuilt   Merchant   Navy Class locomotive, which was to become a benchmark of quality for future locomotives and rolling stock. Hornby   launched   the   first   commercially   produced   ‘00’   gauge   live   steam   locomotive   in   September   2003,   paving   the   way   for   another product line to the Company’s already expanding range, consisting of more than 650 current items. Now   simply   called   "Hornby",   the   company   justifiably   retains   the   position   it   has   held   for   more   than   50   years   as   Britain’s   leading model railway manufacturer.