O Gauge History

1920: Introduction of the Hornby Train - and the Tinprinted Train.

1921: Hornby No.2 Locos and bogie passenger coaches introduced; also the Meccano-based Lattice Girder Bridge, new rails, a Luggage Van, and a No.1 Coach.


1920 First Set


 The first Hornby Train (early 1920)



Zulu Goods Set (1922)


1922: New wagons included Timber Wagons, a Shell Petrol Tank Wagon, two different Brake Vans, a Cement Wagon and a Gunpowder Van - also new rails, and the Buffer Stop. More importantly, the Zulu Trains (later to become the No.0 range) were produced, being similar to the Hornby Trains but not constructional; the Zulu Tank Loco was to develop into a best seller.
 1923: LMS and LNER liveries began to replace LNWR, MR, GN, CR, GE, and LBSC on the UK market; French trains continued to be PLM, Nord and Etat. In France, an electric version of the No.2 Pullman Train was (briefly) sold. A well-proportioned No.2 Tank Locomotive was made available. Many new wagons were sold, including the collectors' favourite, the short-lived Colman's Mustard Van. New accessories included the Windsor Station.


Colman's Mustard HRCA


Colman's Mustard Van (1923)



Jacob's Biscuits HRCA


 Jacob's Biscuit Van (1924)

 1924: There was another expansion in the range, with the Snowplough, the Carr's, Crawford's and Jacob's Biscuit Vans and Seccotine Van, together with some fine accessories, such as the Tunnel.
 1925: All constructional ideas in the Hornby system were now abandoned as a sales point. Significantly, the high-voltage Hornby Electric Train, representing a Metropolitan Railway Train, was introduced.




Early HV Rheostat





Riviera 'Blue Train' Loco (1926)


 1926: The Riviera Blue Train (influenced by the important French market) was the first of the imposing 4-4-2 No.3 Locomotives - the "Blue Train" coaches were the largest and most impressive to date. A new M series replaced the unsuccessful tinprinted trains. The Hornby Control System allowed control of clockwork trains, points and signals from a lever frame in the signal cabin. Goods Depot, Island and Passenger Platforms were introduced. Great Western trains were added to the range.
 1927: The No.3 Loco range was augmented by a British range of clockwork and electric 4-4-2s, named "Flying Scotsman", "Royal Scot" and "Caerphilly Castle", together with new larger Pullman Coaches. The US factory produced their own range of Hornby Trains, soon suspended.




LNER Passenger-Livery Locos (1926-1927)



SR Items


SR Items (1928)


 1928: Southern Railway Hornby Trains became available - at last. The French-type wagons now included not just the Brake Van and Open Wagon but also the popular Wine Wagon. Improved Pullman Coaches and Composites became available, along with superb tinprinted Engine sheds, and a magnificent Signal Gantry, together with other useful accessories. In France, the Golden Arrow train set appeared.
 1929: This was the year of the No.2 Special Locomotives, a true-to-type range portraying real 4-4-0 locos; the LMS Compound, LNER Yorkshire, GW County, and SR L1; all were excellent value for money. The No.1 Special tender and tank locos also graced the catalogues. Electric trains became 6 volt and not 4 volt.




SR No.2 Special Pullman Set (1929)



Canadian Pacific


Canadian Pacific Locomotive (1930)


 1930: An export version of the No.3 Train in CPR livery was sold in Canada. The UK saw the US-type wagons and coaches (but not locos) on sale, together with revised M trains; most rolling stock bases were revised for lower buffer lengths.
 1931: Automatic couplings were introduced. There were several new wagons - Fyffes Bananas, Open B, Fibre, Mobil Oil, Barrel, Meccano Coal, and a series of No.0 Vans. The No.0 and No.1 tender locos were updated, as was the No.1 Tank Loco. The first of the series that became Dinky Toys - the Station Staff - were offered, as were the first electrically lit accessories. 20 volt trains were sold in France.


Ffyfes Bananas


Fyffes Banana Van (1931)


Cadbury's Van O-Gauge

Cadbury's Chocolate Van (1932)

 1932: The wide range of electrically lit accessories was completed; significantly, the UK electric trains were now 20 volt instead of 6, and new models were offered, including the Swiss Type and the LE2/20. A wide range of Tunnels, Cuttings, and Countryside Sections became available, as did the Cadbury's Chocolate Van.
 1933: Colours were made lighter and brighter, to beguile the eye and lighten the purse.

1934: An ever-wide range of 20 volt locos became available, the larger ones with automatic reverse. The range of accessories continued to grow, including a widening range of Dinky Toy figures, now including the Shepherd Set.



No.6. Shepherd Set



Silver Jubilee Set


No.0. 'Silver Jubilee Train Set


 1935: Tinprinted bogie Passenger Coaches were offered; the "Bramham Moor" loco replaced "Yorkshire".

1936: M-type "Silver Jubilee" streamlined trains were catalogued, as were High Capacity Wagons, and Esso, Royal Daylight and Shell-Mex & BP Wagons.
 1937: The largest Hornby loco, the 4-6-2 LMS "Princess Elizabeth", was introduced, together with a 4-4-0 SR Schools Class, "Eton", and a new range of tinprinted coaches. Solid steel Rails were offered as an alternative to tinplate.


Princess Elizabeth


Princess Elizabeth (one of the first batch with serif lettering)



Palethorpe's Sausage Van


Palethorpe's Sausage Van


 1938: Few significant innovations, apart from the Palethorpe's Sausage Van, the Power Ethyl Petrol Tank, and the new range of Hornby Dublo Trains.

1939-44: The start of the war prevented further Hornby developments; although a Pool Petrol tanker was made in 1940, production was very limited, and most Hornby Trains became unavailable in the early 40s.

1945-47: Limited production restarted, mainly of M0, M1 amd 101 trains.
 1948-50: The Type 501 trains became available; export electric versions were produced only for 2 years, and in limited numbers. GW and SR trains were made at this time, but LMS and LNER soon became the only normal liveries. Some bogie stock was produced, again in limited quantities, and some exclusively for export.


GW 501 Passenger Set


GW 501 Passenger Set (1948)



No. 45


No.45 Tank Goods Set (1960)


 1951-53: Shortages of materials continued to hold back production, but soon levels rose to bring the fortunes of the factory to their highest point. However, the post-war Gauge O range was to continue as a shadow of its pre-war glories.

1954-56: BR liveries were introduced.

1957-69: Apart from the No.50 Wagon range introduced in 1957, this was a period of little innovation, seeing a steady decline in the range of O-Gauge products.