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Blog- Sixties Snapshots - 00 scale - A little bit of History

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As the winter solstice approaches I thought it appropriate to look back at some of my earliest railway models. My first ‘train set’ arrived one Christmas in the early 1950s. I am guessing that it was 1953 or 1954 when I received a clockwork Trackmaster tank engine, a Graham Farish suburban coach and four Graham Farish goods wagons.


Trackmaster Clockwork engine from the 1950s prior to sale in 2007



1950s Graham Farrish suburban coaches – repainted and fitted with Hornby bogies prior to sale in 2009



Sole remnants of Graham Farish steel mineral wagon compared to recent Bachmann wagon


My father was not a rain man. I need to give him some credit for he must have asked for advice ‘in the office’ before purchase. The rolling stock came with an oval of track on a solid board. There was a big green tunnel made by a family friend. Perhaps it was Wren track. Years later my father confided that it had been a nightmare to pin the steel rail which seemed to have a mind of its own, to the separate black sleeper base units. He was not a DIY man either..

My clockwork tank engine was not controllable and I don’t think my father wanted to know about installing points and extending the layout. It was probably the next Christmas when the inflexible steel track was quietly removed and in its place I received an early Triang electric train set comprising one black Princess locomotive (with no valve gear) and two short crimson and cream coaches. In those days Triang trains were available from Lister’s in Wilson Street, Middlesbrough (by the station) – now all cleared away. In due course a more realistic looking crimson and cream BSK was acquired which I do believe was still too short.


Triang R227 BR(SR) Luggage Van – much modified prior to sale in 2007

Some time in these early days a Maroon BR (SR) luggage van Triang R227 arrived. This model still had the early type of Triang Coupling with a single rivet to hold both the moving hook and the curved bar. This coach was a survivor. The opening doors were wonderful but the bottom hinges had to be shaved off to allow the coach to pass through my platform roads. In time the coach was weathered, the loud white checked windows were replaced with varnished ‘kitchen paper’. I fitted what I thought were more appropriate turned brass buffers. Replacement bogies were fabricated from Kitmaster parts and some springing units of unknown manufacture.

Parents always know best and some years later a large silver American outline diesel appeared with knurled wheels and a headlight. My father had obviously not taken any advice. He would run the engine round and round in the dark. He was mesmerised by the beam from the headlight and the shower of blue sparks from the knurled wheels on Triang’s steel track. I was less impressed and would have much preferred a ‘Jinty’. It would be many years before the American diesel could be decently buried. I think I eventually used the motor bogie in a freelance version of a Tram Engine reminiscent of Toby in the Reverend W Awdry’s books.

It would probably have been the 1960s before I was able to get rid of the heavy Triang steel track on its thick grey plastic base. I think my father could understand the limitations of steel rail and a new layout was constructed with Peco streamline and Hornby Dublo two rail points. There was some scenery and a change in level. There had been a fire in Upton’s toy shop in Linthorpe Road Middlesbrough and I bought a pair of Triang CKD BSK coaches at the knock down price of 5/-.


Triang CKD Mk1 BSKs from the early 1960s repainted prior to sale in 2007

We had holidays in Wales and I dreamt of green engines with burnished copper and brass.


I think Father was impressed with Granville Manor when we popped into Aberystwyth Shed

On our return north we travelled via Hatton’s shop in Liverpool and purchased Hornby Dublo Cardiff Castle. This was followed perhaps a year later by the 8F.


Hornby Dublo 8F – c1972 already ten years old


Hornby Dubl 8F – as currently running with ex Mainline tender

Around the same time two more Triang ‘scale length’ Mk1s (CKS) were obtained second hand from the same source in part exchange for the original Triang shorty coaches. In addition to the four Triang Mk1s I made up a Kitmaster coach. I don’t think with its plastic wheels that it ran very well and it was dismantled and the bogies and plastic windows used elsewhere.


Triang R354S Lord of Isles with smoke unit from the 1960s prior to sale on 2007

The ex GWR theme was maintained with a model of Lord of the Isles. It was fitted with a ‘smoke unit’ that puffed pine scented smoke. As a working model the engine was somewhat of a dead loss. It came with ‘magnadhesion’ which of course was ineffective with nickel silver track. As a result it could hardly move itself – even on level track.

What became of the Triang Princess? The mechanism was modified to fit inside a plastic Airfix Prairie Tank (as suggested in the Railway Modeller for March 1962). I remember replacing the moulded plastic handrails with single core black insulated copper wire where I removed the majority of the insulation to leave only a few discrete rings to represent the hand rail knobs.

At the end of the 1960s Meccano in Liverpool was in decline and in a final flourish before I went off to college I purchased a couple of the Hornby super detail BR(WR) coaches and some wagons – reduced in price at Romer Parish’s toy shop in Linthorpe Road Middlesbbrough. I don’t have a record of where the coaches went but the last of the wagons was sold in 2007.


Hornby Dublo Super Detail Box Van SD6 prior to sale in 2007 with Triang Couplings

It is a small world and last summer when we were looking to purchase an old Triumph we stopped for bed and breakfast near Machynlleth in central Wales. We hadn’t made it through the front door very long before the wife introduced herself as Romer Parish’s daughter – quite a coincidence to go so far and to meet up with someone so closely associated with my early years.


Bed and Breakfast in Wales


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