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Railway & Modelling Obituaries

Fred Blackman AKA Mallard Models

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Fred was a pioneer in etch coach design. I am still building his kits to this day. Is there a mainline train on Pendon that does not have a Mallard/Blacksmith coach or parts?


In the 1970's my Grandma used to take me to Vanguard models in Liverpool where there built up examples of the Mallard range were displayed. Here I am, in 2020 building the same kits.  Below is one of Fred's designs nearing completion. Fred inspired other cottage industries, which so many of us rely on today. I was always impressed that Fred did not ignore one offs. He produced the lone GWR D48 brake third with 6 wheel bogies, a kit that Fred needed to draw up a bogie to suit. I saw some of Fred's artwork, a few years back, when the range was being sold on. In this age of CAD, it showed the skill of the man, as everything was hand drawn with register targets.


These pages often comment on the lack of rtr toplights, Fred produced them nearly 50 years ago as brass kits. Hornby and Bachmann have still not caught Fred up yet.


My condolences to the family, but I can assure you that Fred will not be forgotten. His contribution to the hobby lives on.


RIP Fred. and a big THANK YOU.


Mike Wiltshire



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  • 2 weeks later...
On 31/01/2020 at 17:56, PaulG said:

My farther-in-law Fred Blackman died on 22 January 2020 at a hospice near his home in Norfolk, with his daughters Angela and Judeth by his side.


Fred had been involved with the design, development and manufacture of printed circuit boards in the 1950s, working with people who had developed the techniques during the Second World War. When the chemical milling process subsequently became available and the ability to double side etch, this gave Fred, a keen railway modeller, the idea to apply the techniques to model railways.


In the late 1960s, Fred came to a weekly South East Essex Railway Society meeting In Leigh-on-Sea with the basic parts for an etched brass 4mm scale LNER Class N7 0-6-2T and some Gresley coach sides, however these ideas did not progress very far, until a move from Essex to Surrey in 1971.


Moving to Surrey resulted a meeting with Pendon Museum including Guy Williams, Tony Reynolds and Paul Karau who saw the potential and numerous kits subsequently became available under the Mallard Models brand in both 4mm and 7mm scale, such as SECR birdcage stock, Gresley stock, LMS panelled stock, GWR carriages, Siphon H and Monster. At that time finding accurate historic information to produce accurate drawings was the main problem and the high number of GWR items reflected the involvement of the Pendon Museum.


Mallard Models was very much a “cottage” industry. Fred’s youngest daughter’s bedroom doubled up as his design studio with drawing board, the tiny spare room was the packing room, where his late first wife Stella and daughters packed the kits and the loft space was the dark room. Later, he opened a model shop in Camberley where he also moved kit production.


After a period in hospital in the 1980s, Fred decided to close the business, which was sold to his friend Dave Smith and the kits subsequently became available under the Blacksmith Models brand (Black(man) Smith!) which, was subsequently sold to Martin & Annette Breakspear, trading as Cooper-Craft and unfortunately the kits apparently are now no longer available.


Fred was born in Bow, East London in 1935, but the family soon moved to Romford where he spent many hours at Romford Station. Therefore, he was most proud of his GER/ LNER Class D16/3 4-4-0 model, the very first 4mm scale etched brass locomotive kit, which he produced in the early 1970s. The design included a new concept of a separate chassis to the mainframes which pivots within them, with the aim to keep the driving wheels in constant contact with the track.


The funeral service will take place on 24th February 2020.Details of the funeral and subsequent gathering of friends can be found at www.dignityfunerals.co.uk/funeral-notices/22-01-2020-frederick-blackman/  where there is also a link if you wish to make a donation. No flowers please. To help with catering please advise [email protected] if you plan to attend.


Paul Goldsmith


As I posted on another forum, this is very sad.  Fred was indeed a pioneer of the etched kit - that went on to have such a large effect on our hobby over many years.


As a professional carriage builder in the late 1970s I remember always being pleased if a commission included the construction of a Mallard kit, as you knew it was of sound design and would go together well.


My sympathies,


David Parkins

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am sorry to hear of Fred's passing.

I grew up in Camberley and Mallard Models had a profound effect on my modelling direction. Encouraged by Fred and his able shop assistants ( I remember an Alistair as well as his two charming daughters and wife) as a teenage military and aircraft kit modeller I gradually progressed to cast and then etched model railway kits. I still have my "starter kit"  a Mallard GWR milk train van as well as others.  All my childhood triang trains and track were exchanged for credit to be spent in his shop leading to a layout built around the walls of my small bedroom.


Fred was even happy to act as judge for a modellers and crafts exhibition at my school (organised by my father).


He, his family and his products have benefitted so many of us.



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Paul was very sorry to read of Fred's passing in the Modeller. I was exhibiting a layout at the Lydney show sometime in the 90s and running my Steam railmotor when this gentleman said "Is that one of mine?" Not quite understanding I said it had been made from a Mallard Kit. " I thought so I 'm Fred Blackman"  he said holding out his hand. It turned out Fren and his second wife Helen were living  a couple of miles down the road from me at Viney Hill. We became good friends Helen had severe multiple sclerosis and took a lot of Fred's time caring for her while he had his own problems with Pagets disease. We had many chats, we both fro  London and talked about railways and the old days. I was editing the Gazette and Fred was pround of your work editing the GE journal.  After Helen died Fred built an out and back layout from a shed which I did feature in the Gazette. He did some more work on etches having now taught himself CAD. I had always wanted a Barnum which although he'd done in 4mm had not been a 7mm one. He now did a new version which was one of the last 'Blacksmith' kits. He had an old kit for a GWR Horsebox marked as no 1 I think it was the very first Mallard kit he gave it to me saying it would be better built to run on your layout I don't need any GWR.  Sadly we had to move away and I would phone Fred for a chat until caring for two invalid in-laws took all of our time.  I was still sending him cards and making an occasional call not always getting an answer. Fred was one of life's gentleman it was a priviledge to have known him.




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I have just read this post and so sorry to hear of Fred’s passing......he was a lovely man and helped me immensely in my early modelling years.......I met Fred when he moved to Camberley  and then when he opened his shop in camberley I helped him out  for just one week before we moved down to Somerset.......I kept in touch and still have a nice collection of his kits both built and waiting to be built from the Mallard range.....such a shame about his passing a true gentleman...........dave........

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  • 6 months later...

Just spotted this, my first job was working for Mallard Models (151 London Rd Camberley) in the summer of 1978 remember his wife Stella, she was my boss and his daughters Angela and Judeth who sometimes helped out in the shop , his kits were sent all over the world, I used to put the kits together and get them ready for posting

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