The History of Hornby


Hornby is a famous leading brand from the United Kingdom in the world model railway systems. The history of Hornby begins with a man named Frank Hornby who established his patent and created a company called Meccano Ltd. in 1907. The Meccano Ltd. company produced toys and Frank Hornby became popular for his innovation and inventiveness of creating toys for children and young people.

In 1920, Meccano built toy trains which were powered by a clockwork motor that was made of metal and constructed with Meccano nuts and bolts. Hornby trains soon became the most famous British toy trains. The first Hornby trains had a small gauge of ‘0’ in size. The company became very successful and quickly began producing more toy trains and accessories. In 1925, the Hornby company was able to introduce the first electric train that operated on 100-250 volts. Within a few years, Hornby began producing safer model railway systems that were electronically powered and more advanced.

The next phase in the history of Hornby was the Hornby Dublo that was launched in 1938. The trains were made out of cast metal rather than pressed metal and the building of the model railways were mad out of actual wood. These sets were available in either clockwork motors or electric and became widely popular right before the Second World War began. As soon as the war began, production in the Hornby company came to a stop but later began when World War II ended. Over the years, Horby experienced many trials, successes and some failure. It met competition with competitors that led Hornby to put aside the three rail system and begin building two rail track systems. The biggest competitor for Hornby was Tri-ang Railways which produced trains that had plastic bodies. After a long time of rivalry, the Tri-ang company and Hornby partnered up and in 1965 they became Tri-ang Hornby which put an end to the Hornby Dublo.




The new partnership of the Tri-ang Hornby was famous for the change to British Rail blue liveries that ran on diesel trains. In 1972, the Tri-ang Hornby model railway system changed to Hornby railways and became more advanced to attract adults who made model railway systems a hobby. The model railways were made with finer scale wheels, had wire handrails on the locomotives, quality paint jobs, plastic bodies and an overall quality in craftsmanship and details.

Over the next few years, Hornby continued to make railway models with popular systems and in 1980, the company became known as Hornby Hobbies Ltd. and was an independent company. There was an increase in demand for liveries that Hornby continued to produce. New standards led to more innovations and products including the “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends” system which was based on the television show.

The company continues to make model railways till today and in 2003, Hornby introduced the first ‘00’ gauge live steam locomotive made for commercial use. The History of Hornby has spanned over 50 years and has gone through various changes that have ultimately led to a leading brand for model railway systems.


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