The Story Of Hornby

The Story Of Hornby

An article in the Thanet Gazette tell the story about the fact that HORNBY Railways roots date back to 1901, when founder Frank Hornby received a patent for his Meccano construction toy. The first clockwork train was produced in 1920 in Liverpool.

In 1938, Hornby launched its first 00 gauge train. Production was suspended in 1942, during the Second World War. Production resumed after the war but did not reach full capacity until 1948.

In 1964, Lines Bros Ltd, the parent company of rival Tri-ang Railways, purchased Meccano Ltd., and merged Hornby and Tri-ang into Tri-ang Hornby at the Margate site. The former Hornby line was discontinued in favour of Tri-ang’s less-costly plastic designs.

The Tri-ang group was disbanded in 1971 and Tri-ang Hornby was sold to Dunbee-Combex-Marx, becoming Hornby Railways in 1972. Hornby Railways became independent in the 1980s. Production continued at the Ramsgate Road factory until the 1990s, when it transferred manufacturing to Asia and the old factory became a warehouse.
In July 2010 the Hornby Shop And Visitor Centre opened. In June 2013 the firm announced that it was shifting its warehouse to Hersden, near Canterbury, and in May 2015 the remaining sections of the business will move to Discovery Park.
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An attempt to build the world’s longest model railway formed the final episode of Top Gear presenter James May’s Toy Stories. May, who had previously identified the train set as his “absolute favourite”, hoped that a train would run successfully along the length of the Tarka Trail – a disused 37-mile (60 km) railway line in North Devon.

Hornby was heavily involved, providing the track and the prototype of their OO gauge British Rail Class 395 Javelin train. Simon Kohler, marketing manager of Hornby model railways, said that the train, which travels at just one mile per hour (1.6km/h), failed two miles short of Bideford station. But he also told BBC news: “Even though the last locomotive gave up the ghost at Instow, we did link the track – in fact I finished it at about 22.30 – so we’ll just need to wait and see what Guinness make of it. In April 2011 James tried again, this time against the Germans. All the trains reached their destinations and the British team won.


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