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The Lines family made toys in Victorian times. The founders were the brothers George and Joseph Lines. Their company was G & J lines Ltd with Joseph being the most active while George later went into farming. Joseph (Joe) Lines had four sons three of whom formed Lines Bros Ltd soon after WW1. These three were William, Walter and Arthur Edwin Lines who first made wooden toys like their father. These three 'Lines' make a triangle you see, hence the name "Tri-ang". The surviving member of the family, who had worked within this toy empire is the son of Arthur, namely Richard Lines who is largely responsible for the Tri-ang Railways system and we are honoured to receive regular comment and support from him.
Tri-ang toys were aimed at the children from working homes and were always competitively priced and brightly coloured. Lines Bros Ltd thought big and achieved their good prices through large scale and efficient manufacture, with factories all over the world. During the second war, Lines Bros factories made munitions and were reputedly able to teach the MOD how to organise production speedily and with high outputs. Lines Bros engineers developed the 'Sten' gun which saw extensive war use.
The most important recent phase under Tri-ang was the acquisition of a small plastics firm in Richmond, Surrey, who, desperate to use their injection moulders to the full, had created a toy train set at the request of none other than Marks and Spencer. The original concept was well founded but needed finanacial support and development which Lines Bros Ltd provided. Rovex Plastics Ltd was to grow from strength to strength and soon outgrew their premises in Richmond, Surrey, to move to an all new factory at Westwood, Margate in Kent. They gained experience, the hard way, with a new fangled material called plastic. The earlist trains were made from cellulose acetate, which, within a few years, shrank, and all the examples from that period are somewhat banana shaped. With the switch to polystyrene, Rovex became masters of the material and the cleverness and longevity of their products, some now over 50 years, is a testament to the genius and forethought. The Margate factory was built to enable production to expand and this has been used until late 1998 to make the 'Hornby' branded, though essentially 'Tri-ang' trains of today.
From 1964, following the collapse of Hornby Dublo, a branch of Meccano in Liverpool, Lines Bros owned the Hornby name. At first they called the railway range 'Tri-ang Hornby' but it was almost all Tri-ang, the Hornby bit was lipservice and a marketing ploy. In the end, the marketing men decided to keep only the Hornby name and abandon their true heritage. This seems a great shame as Hornby was a separate company, one that had in fact failed to compete, yet the name was longer established and considered more associated with model railways.
Production now continues in China, using many of the principles and techniques developed by Rovex as Tri-ang Railways. Indeed, the Mk 1 coaches first made by Tri-ang Railways are essentially the same products still made today, 40 years later. The packaging is still red and yellow, this was the Tri-ang colour scheme and although it says Hornby on the box, the firm is based at Margate, the home of Tri-ang Railways.
The Scalextric range, also from this later period and made by Minimodels in Havant, remains a popular testament to the plastics genius within Lines Bros Ltd.
GO TO THE SCALEXTRIC CLUB
Lines Bros Ltd, at its peak, was claimed to be the largest toy maker in the world and the product range included: dolls houses, rocking horses, pressed steel, tinplate, die cast and plastic road vehicles, ships, Arrow jigsaw puzzles, Pennybrix, Pedigree Prams and dolls, pedal cars, Minic vehicles, Minix cars, Minimodels, Miniville, Model-Land, clockwork, battery and electric mechanisms, Scalextric, Minic Motorways, Sindy, Spot On, Minic waterline ships, Arkitex conxtruction kits (two scales), FROG construction kits, science and educational toys, Big Big train, Wrenn Railways, Jump Jocky, Tri-ang Minic Narrow Gauge (garden) railways in 10 /1/4" (26cm) gauge and latterly two complete railways systems in '00' and 'TT' gauges. There were associated companies overseas selling Tri-ang under their own brand names. eg: A.T.T. in the U.S.A.
This list is not exhaustive.
We are all wiser, thanks to the reference publications by Pat Hammond (himself a Tri-ang Society member) on the histories of Rovex Tri-ang, the railways part of Lines Bros Ltd. Now, there are many more collectors who can appreciate the immense variety, cleverness and high build quality of the toys from the Lines Bros empire. Looking at the Tri-ang railways alone, it seems impossible to collect the lot, as the variety of colour, number, couplings, wheels, chassis, boxes, etc., it is just too vast.
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Tri-ang Society Reproduction Box pages
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Telephone the Society 07742 909986
Communicating by e.mail can be unreliable for a variety of reasons.
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At the Tri-ang Society, we endeavour to enjoy our Tri-ang toys and not become too serious about them. For the majority at least, we collect, restore, and enjoy what we like, with less thought for financial values. That really should be the essence of toy collecting!!
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Click here for Tri-ang reproduction boxes now available
Tri-ang Catenary Trains.
Tri-ang Minic Narrow guage Railways.
Rovex Tri-ang Princess. Now sixty years old.
Tri-ang Hornby 'Amalgamation Leaflet'.
Tri-ang dolls houses.
Tri-ang Railways Locomotives.
Tri-ang road vehicles.
Go to David Wilshaw's Tri-ang ForumGo to Dave McCarthy's excellent and huge Tri-ang site
Go to A History of Tri-ang webite from Holland.
Go to Member Dave Angell's Sales website.
Go to UK Model Shops VERY USEFUL site.
Go to A FROG / Penguin website.
Go to U K Toy Auction website.
Go to Cambridge Train Shop.
Go to A Spot On site.
Go to Tri-angman Website
Go to A DIRECTORY of all toy types.
Go to Model Railway Figures, including TT scale.
Go to Member Richard Deas Tri-ang Hornby website.
Go to Member Paul Grogan's Moulton cycle website.
Go to The Tri-ang Railways descendants, Hornby Railways.
Go to Falconwood Transport and Military Bookshop.
Go to A Tri-ang website for vehicles from Holland.
Go to The website for artist Peter Barnfield.
Go to Allan Trotter's "Genuine Fakes"
Go to Brighton Toy Museum
Go to A Sindy Website
Go to Model Rail Glasgow
Go to A Tri-ang TT railway site
Go to Elaine's Trains
Go to Andy (Elaine's Husband's) website
Go to Laurence Moger's Tri-ang Railways site
Go to A great 'Spot On' site from Wiebe Buising
Go to The Cumberland Toy and Model Museum
Go to The Model Railway Doctor
Go to Railway Nameplates UK
Go to Tri-ang from Holland
Go to G & R Wrenn Ltd
Go to The Pedal Car club.
Go to Tri-ang in North America and Canada
Go to Model Rail Express mag edited by Pat Hammond
Go to Warley Model Railway Club website.
Go To Tri-ang Railways site.
Go To The Tri-ang Minic Narrow gauge Society.
Tri-ang SocietyReproduction Box Order Form
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