Although my main interest is Meccano building I also have a modest and slowly growing collection of nineteen fifties Hornby Dublo. It was in 1959 that I purchased my first Hornby Dublo model railway this consisted of a Bo-Bo diesel locomotive, two brown open wagons and Western Region guards van these were the latest Super detail products. I ran my train on an oval of Wrenn flexible track, I bought this because it looked more realistic with its separate fibre sleepers, than the Dublo tinplate track. I seem to recall that when it came to extending my oval the Wrenn points were more expensive than Hornby Dublo and much harder to find so I started buying the Hornby Dublo tinplate track as pocket money permitted. The advertisement announcing the new Bo Bo locomotive is shown at the bottom of the page.
In recent years I have been buying the items that I once proudly owned, including the Bo-Bo diesel shown on the left and the Duchess of Montrose shown above.
Hornby Dublo model railways were first announced by the Meccano company in the December 1938 Meccano magazine, as "The perfect table railway" and they almost certainly were. The models were 00 gauge to a scale of 4mm to the foot with three rail track, the centre rail is to pick up the 12 volt current. The locomotives were highly detailed, die cast metal, the wagons and coach bodies were litho tin printed with die cast under frames and boogies. When they were re introduced in 1947 in small numbers there was a great demand and it was several years before the full range of products could be purchased. Hornby Dublo trains quickly became popular but soon a cheaper rival came along, Rovex Tri-ang later Tri-ang Railways with a two rail system and plastic construction. The other main rival was Trix like Hornby Dublo with a three rail system, Trix had been introduced several years before Hornby Dublo but at first they had a rather crude toy like appearance, but later were very much more detailed and very similar to H.D.
In 1959 Meccano announced they were introducing a two rail system, much to the disappointment of myself, just starting my collection and all those who already had the original track system. This was no great surprise as Meccano had started producing "Super Detail" plastic wagons in 1958 for "two or three rail running." When Meccano announced the introduction of the two rail system they stated that production of the three rail system would carry on as long as there was a demand, in fact production lasted until 1964. The huge investment involved in changing over to a badly conceived two rail system was partly responsible for the collapse of the Meccano company. Production of Hornby Dublo trains ceased in 1964 following the take over of the Meccano Company by Lines Bros., makers of their greatest rival Tri-ang Railways , the two systems were merged under the name of Triang Hornby in 1965 but very little of the Hornby Dublo products survived in the new regime. Today the system is know as Hornby and has nothing to do with Meccano.
More information about Hornby Dublo and Hornby gauge "0" can be found at The Hornby Rail Collectors Association web pages.
My own "Table Top Railway" is shown in the photographs below I do enjoy getting it all out of its boxes and setting it up. Although I am currently setting up an 8' x 4' layout on a folding base board.
Enthusiastic smoke piping Dad and son are from the 1959 Meccano products catalogue. Yes its the same illustration transposed as shown looking at the digger on my main Meccano page.
Above a BR standard class 2-6-4 tank locomotive departs from the station loop, bunker first with a train of suburban coaches. The station buildings,signal box and foot bridge are Hornby Dublo , made in the nineteen fifties from die cast aluminium. The footbridge is based on a design introduced by the Southern Railway during the nineteen thirties.
Below the BR standard class 2-6-4 tank locomotive runs around the station loop with an empty freight train bound for the yard. Waiting to depart is a three coach train of E.R. stock headed by a 0-6-2 L17 tank loco. The bottom picture shows a general view of my table top layout photographs taken in January 2010.
Below is the new 8 x 4 base board layout although not yet fully wired most of the track is now screwed down and the pictures were taken the first time I had it all set up. The loco in the foreground is the post war A4 Sir Nigel Gresley just leaving the station. The 8 x 4 baseboard was made to order by Classic Baseboards and folds in half for storage. The track pieces are removed across the folding point and held in place by sliding the fishplates across the gap.
Below is another view of the station and goods yard. My collection includes anything post war to the end of the Hornby Dublo three rail system
My layout the plan shown below is developed from a dealer display board made by Meccano Ltd. in the nineteen fifties and shown in the Hornby Companion Series Vol 3.
On the far left is the c1954 EDG17 set I bought a several years ago that really re-kindled my interest in Hornby Dublo model railways. As with all Meccano products of that time it is beautifully presented in a strong heavy board box and must have delighted who ever received it
The advertisement shown on the right is from the back cover of the December 1958 Meccano Magazine announcing the new model Bo-Bo diesel, that had also recently been introduced by British Railways. The illustration is not very flattering to the well detailed model in my opinion. This model was a departure from the die cast bodies of all previous locomotives and was of high impact plastic. This followed on from the "Super Detail" moulded goods trucks and vans introduced earlier in 1958. I nterestingly the Bo Bo diesel locos now known as Type 20 are still in mainline service on the rail network.
I am a member of the Hornby Railway Collectors Association
April 19 2009 Revised April 13 2019