Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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September 1922.
January 1929.
January 1929.
January 1939.
January 1939.
January 1939.
January 1939.
December 1953. Hornby.
Petrol Tank wagon 'Esso'.

Hornby was at first a trade name for the railway productions of Meccano, made in Liverpool.

1920 Meccano Ltd produced the first Hornby model trains, replicas of British trains with authentic colours and lettering as used by the railway companies of the time.

All kinds of rolling-stock, signal-boxes, stations, level-crossing gates, complementary buildings, and scenery were added to increase the realism of railway modelling.

1922 Meccano was making Hornby and Zulu clockwork trains (see advert)

Clockwork was eventually replaced by low-voltage electric power to drive the engines and automate switching-points on the railway track.

1934 An I. Mech. E. visit to the factory saw the range of products including Hornby clockwork and electric trains, speed boats, and electrical and chemical outfits.

Assembly line methods and conveyers were in use for every possible purpose in the factory. Operations seen included rail-making plant, high-speed dieing machines, producing as many as 1,000,000 washers per day as well as other blanks, sprocket-chain making, cleaning and painting, enamelling, and assembly of electrical transformers and motors.

1938 Introduction of Hornby Dublo model electric trains

1964 Lines Brothers purchased Meccano.[1]

In 1965, Lines Brothers, the parent company of Tri-ang Group merged Hornby and Tri-ang into Tri-ang Hornby.

1971 Lines Brothers went into liquidation and Hornby was swallowed up by the international trading group Dunbee-Combex-Marx.

1972 As a result, the Tri-ang Hornby system took the name Hornby Railways from January.

1973 Became the importers of the German Trix range which was renamed Hornby Minitrix.

1980 DCM's overseas operations were losing money and Hornby was placed in the hands of receivers called in by DCM's bankers. Coopers and Lybrand's George Cockerell was appointed receiver of Hornby, while his colleague Paul Shewell handled Pedigree.

1980 February: 20-strong team from Coopers and Lybrand investigated every aspect of the business to understand how Hornby worked.

1980 March: Karl Mueller was allowed to continue as managing director to the company. It was recognised that Hornby could trade profitably free from the constraints of DCM.

1980 May: Cockerill was able to ask - and get - £1 million from the Midland Bank to cover a planned television and radio advertising campaign for the pre-Christmas sales period. Production, management and workforce was to be cut by a third.

1980 June: The first June deadline set for buyers of Hornby to come forward passed with no firm offers on the table. New models were introduced including a version of the new Advanced Passenger Train.

1980 December: Hornby recorded pre-tax profits of £600,000 for the year ending Dec 1980 on a turnover of £21 million.

1981 March: Cockerill set a second deadline for the sale of Hornby: 5th March 1980. This prompted a buyout by a City consortium.

1981 June: Announced it would recruit an additional 60 workers to meet demand for its products. The company currently employed 1,300, and was recently acquired by its own management (May 1981). The business was on line to record £1 million profit.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Wikipedia
  2. The Engineer 1981/06/11