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EXHIBITION OF THE TRIANG SOCIETY

 ST MARGARET'S HALL, CHELTENHAM

 SATURDAY 15 MAY 2010

 
 

   
  But for one day a year, the hall at the end of Coniston Road becomes a haven of guilty pleasure as the Triang Society presents a carnival of kitsch -  Super Four and System Six track laid on tablecloths, stand alone trees, hedges and buildings and rolling stock innocent of such concepts as weathering and finescale.  In short, the childhood train sets that started many modellers on their paths of glory!  
 

   
  For many people, especially readers of this website, St Margaret's Hall has become synonymous with excellence in modern railway modelling with twice yearly shows raising money for CLIC Sargeant Cancer Charities through the very latest techniques and practices.  

But for one day a year, the hall at the end of Coniston Road becomes a haven of guilty pleasure as the Triang Society presents a carnival of kitsch -  Super Four and System Six track laid on tablecloths, stand alone trees, hedges and buildings and rolling stock innocent of such concepts as weathering and finescale.  In short, the childhood train sets that started many modellers on their paths of glory!

For example, compare and contrast the blue BRT grain hopper above with the one displayed on  Mike Briggs and Nick Barnett's Marcroft layout in April 2007.  Dugald Drummond's long framed M7 0-4-4T 328 built at Eastleigh in 1911 meanwhile is depicted in Southern Railway malachite green livery.
 
 

   
 
 Although railway modelling has moved on since Triang's halcyon days of the 1950s and 60s, it must be said that the firm ventured into historical epochs never explored since.  One example - illustrated above - was a replica of Robert Stephenson's "Rocket" in its Liverpool and Manchester Railway condition of 1830 along with matching carriages Times, Despatch and Experience.  Since set R346 appeared in 1965 there has been a huge gap in historic ready to run British 00 gauge train sets - only picking up again with Triang's Dean and Caledonian Railway single drivers from the end of the Nineteenth Century.  Where, for example, are the complementary "Planet" 2-2-0s, "Jenny Lind" 2-2-2s or 0-6-0 Ramsbottom DX Goods?  
 
 
 
 
Although railway modelling has moved on since Triang's halcyon days of the 1950s and 60s, it must be said that the firm ventured into historical epochs never explored since.  One example - illustrated above - was a replica of Robert Stephenson's "Rocket" in its Liverpool and Manchester Railway condition of 1830 along with matching carriages Times, Despatch and Experience.  Since set R346 appeared in 1965 there has been a huge gap in historic ready to run British 00 gauge train sets - only picking up again with Triang's Great Western Dean "3001" Class and Caledonian Railway single drivers from the end of the Nineteenth Century.  Where, for example, are the complementary "Planet" 2-2-0s, "Jenny Lind" 2-2-2s or 0-6-0 Ramsbottom DX Goods?

Indeed, talking of those celebrity single drivers, another table in St Margaret's Hall featured two ranges of models showing how both the Swindon and Glasgow built engines had been portrayed over the years with matching carriages and wagons.  The Dean singles - built from 1891 to 1899 - had first been moulded in 1961 as "Lord of The Isles" and carried on with the same name for revivals in 1981 and 2007 before becoming available as "Lorna Doone" ( 2007), "Royal Sovereign" ( 2008) and "Duke of Edinburgh" in 2009.  Interestingly, GWR locomotives 3001 - 3080 carried many names replicated on Twentieth Century Great Western and British Standard engines.

Similarly, the unique Neilson and Company 2-2-2 built as works number 3553 for the Caledonian Railway in 1886 and now preserved in the Glasgow Museum of Transport was first made available by Triang in 1963 in matt light blue before graduating to gloss blue in 1971. LMS Crimson Lake livery and the number 14010 was first represented in 1983 with a detailed dark blue variant of Caledonian markings becoming available in 2007.  Pictured below are LMS lined black ( worn until withdrawal in 1935) and detailed Crimson Lake products from 2008 and 2009 respectively.

 
 


 
 

 Similarly, the unique Neilson and Company 2-2-2 built as works number 3553 for the Caledonian Railway in 1886 and now preserved in the Glasgow Museum of Transport was first made available by Triang in 1963 in matt light blue before graduating to gloss blue in 1971. LMS Crimson Lake livery and the number 14010 was first represented in 1983 with a detailed dark blue variant of Caledonian markings becoming available in 2007.  Pictured below are LMS lined black ( worn until withdrawal in 1935) and detailed Crimson Lake products from 2008 and 2009 respectively.  
 


 
 

Of course, from the perspective of a schoolboy in 1960 both "Rocket" and the single drivers examined above would have been as far distant as the British Standard "Britannia" pacifics are from today's young generation - interesting curiosities but not as exciting as the trains to be seen on Britains railways just by visiting a station or leaning over the nearest bridge. Triang also realised this, and thus left to posterity such gems as 46200 "The Princess Royal", seen below in the Crimson Lake applied to a number of similar ex LMS pacifics towards the end of steam.  Indeed, the late pattern "ferret and dartboard" BR crest contrasts with the preserved condition of 6201 "Princess Elizabeth" examined elsewhere on this site.  
 


 
 
 Of course, from the perspective of a schoolboy in 1960 both "Rocket" and the single drivers examined above would have been as far distant as the British Standard "Britannia" pacifics are from today's young generation - interesting curiosities but not as exciting as the trains to be seen on Britains railways just by visiting a station or leaning over the nearest bridge. Triang also realised this, and thus left to posterity such gems as 46200 "The Princess Royal", seen below in the Crimson Lake applied to a number of similar ex LMS pacifics towards the end of steam.  Indeed, the late pattern "ferret and dartboard" BR crest contrasts with the preserved condition of 6201 "Princess Elizabeth" examined elsewhere on this site.  
 


 
 
At the same time that standard gauge steam traction was disappearing from British Railways, so the former LNER line between Manchester, Sheffield and Wath - electrified in the mid 1950s to 1 500 volts dc on the overhead catenary - was becoming technically and geographically isolated.  Future electrification, including the West Coast Main Line - once dominated by Stanier pacifics like 46200 "The Princess Royal" - was to be electrified on the 25 000 volt ac system pioneered on the route from Heysham and Morecambe to Lancaster.  As a result, the seven EM2 Co-Co dc electrics built to haul passenger expresses from Sheffield to Manchester were sold in September 1969 to Nederland Spoorwegen and - as can seen below - Triang were quick to jump on the bandwagon.
 


  At the same time that standard gauge steam traction was disappearing from British Railways, so the former LNER line between Manchester, Sheffield and Wath - electrified in the mid 1950s to 1 500 volts dc on the overhead catenary - was becoming technically and geographically isolated.  Future electrification, including the West Coast Main Line - once dominated by Stanier pacifics like 46200 "The Princess Royal" - was to be electrified on the 25 000 volt ac system pioneered on the route from Heysham and Morecambe to Lancaster.  As a result, the seven EM2 Co-Co dc electrics built to haul passenger expresses from Sheffield to Manchester were sold in September 1969 to Nederland Spoorwegen and - as can seen below - Triang were quick to jump on the bandwagon.  
 

 
 
  The advertisement says that "NS have bought British electric locomotives and so can you with this quality ready to run model in Ho scale for 53.50 guilders or in kit form for 47.50 guilders."  Ho?  That would be 3.5mm to the foot surely?  And notice that 27000 "Electra" is still in British Railways markings!
 
 

   
 
 What particularly drew me to this table however was the Trans Europ Express locomotive cunningly converted from an American style domed observation car.  The real Class 601 diesel hydraulic would have been part of the seven vehicle "Helvitia" train set plying from Hamburg to Zurich and Hamburg and powered by a pair of 1 100 MAN prime movers yielding a top speed of 95 mph.  Each 63' long driving vehicle would also have contained a 250 bhp diesel engine for a 260 volt generator to power the lights, cooking and air-conditioning and compartments for railway crew and customs officers.  
 

 
 
 
For the British modeller in the 1960s the Channel Tunnel was still science fiction and foreigners definitely started at Dover - although once again Triang was keen to bring the allure of the Continent if not the Americas to the average layout.  The "Triang Railways" electric and diesel locomotives pictured below have a definite US and/or Commonwealth feel to their styling while the bank of bogie gondola wagons above were arranged in years of manufacture and UK price.  In the days before Decimalisation this would have been just over 6 shillings ( 30 pence ) although the same moulds were also sent for manufacture to Australia and New Zealand to get round import tariffs and the resulting models priced in native Dollars.

What particularly drew me to this table however was the Trans Europ Express locomotive cunningly converted from an American style domed observation car.  The real Class 601 diesel hydraulic would have been part of the seven vehicle "Helvitia" train set plying from Hamburg to Zurich and powered by a pair of 1 100 MAN prime movers yielding a top speed of 95 mph.  Each 63' long driving vehicle would also have contained a 250 bhp diesel engine for a 260 volt generator to power the lights, cooking and air-conditioning and compartments for railway crew and customs officers.
 
 


 
 
For the British modeller in the 1960s the Channel Tunnel was still science fiction and foreigners definitely started at Dover - although once again Triang was keen to bring the allure of the Continent if not the Americas to the average layout.  The "Triang Railways" electric and diesel locomotives pictured below have a definite US and/or Commonwealth feel to their styling while the bank of bogie gondola wagons above were arranged in years of manufacture and UK price.  In the days before Decimalisation this would have been just over 6 shillings ( 30 pence ) although the same moulds were also sent for manufacture to Australia and New Zealand to get round import tariffs and the resulting models priced in native Dollars.
 




In his 2003 novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" Mark Haddon's hero Christopher Boone remarks that "My train set had a little building that was two rooms with a corridor between them, and one was the ticket office where you bought the tickets, and one was a waiting room where you waited for a train." - much more like the redbrick structure below than the Art Deco pomp of the station that purported to be Plymouth on the TT Gauge ( 3mm to the foot) Triang layout above.  What 15 year old Boone does not mention is the presence of any giant tickets used to control the flow of current to the track, although adding "play value" was to be something of a trademark of Triang train sets and wagons.




In his 2003 novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" Mark Haddon's hero Christopher Boone remarks that "My train set had a little building that was two rooms with a corridor between them, and one was the ticket office where you bought the tickets, and one was a waiting room where you waited for a train." - much more like the redbrick structure below than the Art Deco pomp of the station that purported to be Plymouth on the TT Gauge ( 3mm to the foot) Triang layout above.  What 15 year old Boone does not mention is the presence of any giant tickets used to control the flow of current to the track, although adding "play value" was to be something of a trademark of Triang train sets and wagons.


 

In his 2003 novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" Mark Haddon's hero Christopher Boone remarks that "My train set had a little building that was two rooms with a corridor between them, and one was the ticket office where you bought the tickets, and one was a waiting room where you waited for a train." - much more like the redbrick structure below than the Art Deco pomp of the station that purported to be Plymouth on the TT Gauge ( 3mm to the foot) Triang layout above.  What 15 year old Boone does not mention is the presence of any giant tickets used to control the flow of current to the track, although adding "play value" was to be something of a trademark of Triang train sets and wagons.
 
 
 This tendency was celebrated on the layout of Ray Jones which united the log loading and unloading facilities seen above and below with Triang's famous giraffe car.  Whether East African Railways or any of its neighbours ever transported giraffes is open to question.  They may well have been moved on British railways who often took circus menageries from one town to another but somehow I think it unlikely that any giraffes were acutally trained to duck under low bridges as happened in the world of Triang!  
 

 
 
This tendency was celebrated on the layout of Ray Jones which united the log loading and unloading facilities seen above and below with Triang's famous giraffe car.  Whether East African Railways or any of its neighbours ever transported giraffes is open to question.  They may well have been moved on British railways who often took circus menageries from one town to another but somehow I think it unlikely that any giraffes were acutally trained to duck under low bridges as happened in the world of Triang!  

Despite this, a quick look round the internet shows that the Brio railways beloved of toddlers today still feature pop-up animal trains although as far as I can see nobody has been so politically incorrect as to bring back the ultimate in Triang escapism - BattleSpace!
 

                                                                                                                
Despite this, a quick look round the internet shows that the Brio railways beloved of toddlers today still feature pop-up animal trains although as far as I can see nobody has been so politically incorrect as to bring back the ultimate in Triang escapism - BattleSpace!


 
 Before the Second World War, Triang were marketing their strong but light forts for toy soldiers in an era when international conflicts were being decided by tanks and aeroplanes: but from 1966 to 1971 they were right up to date with the age of the ICBM and hydrogen bomb - using railway vehicles!
 




Before the Second World War, Triang were marketing their strong but light forts for toy soldiers in an era when international conflicts were being decided by tanks and aeroplanes: but from 1966 to 1971 they were right up to date with the age of the ICBM and hydrogen bomb - using railway vehicles!

In fact the R216 Rocket Launcher -seen above - derived from Triang's Minic road vehicle range and was available from 1957.  Mounted on a simple British type bogie bolster wagon, this differed from many later Battle Space items in being triggered by hand.  Although not given NATO ( or ANZAC for the Antipodes) markings, the rubber tipped rocket was a little like the American Honest John missile which was later to be offered as R672.

First to use a lineside trip switch to set off a pre-wound wagon mechanism was the R 128 Helicopter Car, whose projectile is seen moulded in red plastic next to the log loader.  As the helicopter needed to be light it only bore a passing resemblance to some of the smaller rotorcraft of the time and was mounted on a Transcontinental flat car - as befitting its origins with Lionel in the United States.


  The BattleSpace logo of a black rifle superimposed on a white rocket in an orange roundel first appeared in 1966 and in the era of the superpower race to the Moon - and of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5 on TV - Triang treated its customers to such delights as the R562 catapult plane launcher.  This wagon had its roots in the British Railways Trestrol ( trestle trolley ) and the idea of a fighter aircraft zero-feet launched to defend an important installation was also not without parallel in the real world.  Both the Soviet Union and Britain - with the Fairey Delta One - had experimented with rocket assisted jet fighters on ramps and by the 1980s the Royal Navy had ski-jump ramps on its Illustrious class aircraft carriers for BAe Sea Harrier fighters.  How many of the relatively flimsy gliders still exist relative to the launching wagons are debateable however.  I remember losing mine through an open door into the garden quite soon after acquiring it!
 
 

   
  The BattleSpace logo of a black rifle superimposed on a white rocket in an orange roundel first appeared in 1966 and in the era of the superpower race to the Moon - and of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5 on TV - Triang treated its customers to such delights as the R562 catapult plane launcher.  This wagon had its roots in the British Railways Trestrol ( trestle trolley ) and the idea of a fighter aircraft zero-feet launched to defend an important installation was also not without parallel in the real world.  Both the Soviet Union and Britain - with the Fairey Delta One - had experimented with rocket assisted jet fighters on ramps and by the 1980s the Royal Navy had ski-jump ramps on its Illustrious class aircraft carriers for BAe Sea Harrier fighters.  How many of the relatively flimsy gliders still exist relative to the launching wagons are debateable however.  I remember losing mine through an open door into the garden quite soon after acquiring it!    
 

   
It should also be remembered that BattleSpace was popular before modern Health and Safety legislation and television advertisements for ambulance-chasing lawyers, so any launching of anti-aircraft missiles ( above) or satellites ( below ) at the exhibition had to be conducted when everyone was warned and nobody was in the immediate danger zone!
 


 
 
It should also be remembered that BattleSpace was popular before modern Health and Safety legislation and television advertisements for ambulance-chasing lawyers, so any launching of anti-aircraft missiles ( above) or satellites ( below ) at the exhibition had to be conducted when everyone was warned and nobody was in the immediate danger zone!

Unlike the R216 rocket launcher, item R343 had a turret that could traverse as well as elevate and the wagon - based on a British Weltrol  -  had space for spare rounds once the red triggers had been squeezed.  Also featured was the cabin with two windows per side and D-shaped walled open section under the raised missiles.  This feature was continued on the more colourful R566 Spy Satellite launch vehicle which otherwise resembled the helicopter launcher.  The little cabin even had a chimney, presumably for a coal stove to brew a very final cup of tea.

R566 is seen below alongside Triang's R248 American style ambulance train and coupled to the R567 Radar Tracking Command Car, whose antenna rotated as the wagon moved courtesy of a system of rubber bands and pulleys linked to the axles.
 
 


 
 
R566 is seen below alongside Triang's R248 American style ambulance train and coupled to the R567 Radar Tracking Command Car, whose antenna rotated as the wagon moved courtesy of a system of rubber bands and pulleys linked to the axles.
 


The R341 Searchlight Wagon meanwhile picked up 12v dc from the tracks to power its beams while the R249 exploding wagon was dependent on a lineside trip switch - although unlike the helicopter, satellite or glider the components had a better chance of being recovered.


  The R341 Searchlight Wagon meanwhile picked up 12v dc from the tracks to power its beams while the R249 exploding wagon was dependent on a lineside trip switch - although unlike the helicopter, satellite or glider the components had a better chance of being recovered.
 
 

   
  The R341 Searchlight Wagon meanwhile picked up 12v dc from the tracks to power its beams while the R249 exploding wagon was dependent on a lineside trip switch - although unlike the helicopter, satellite or glider the components had a better chance of being recovered.
 
 

   
Having said that however, there was one British railway that saw missiles ( including the first captured V2) and satellites being hauled in by steam along with coal and oil - the mile long branch running from Farnborough station on the London Waterloo - Salisbury line and the Royal Aircraft Establishment.  This was built through the streets of the town by German prisoners during the First World War and from 1955 Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST "Invincible" joined a Fowler diesel that had been plying back and forth since 1939.  The line closed, easing traffic congestion, on 9 April 1968 although rails are still visible on the corner of Union Street and Elm Grove Road and another part of the trackbed has been named Invincible Road.  Fortunately the locomotive itself has been preserved on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
 

   
  Perhaps the most surprising thing about BattleSpace was Triang's choice of motive power, ranging from the R558 Victorian era LMS "Jinty" ( surely the steam would have given the position of the BattleSpace train away to enemies? ) to the R752 Turbo Ram Car - unable to couple to anything but ready to give any trains not running on time ahead of it a nasty shock! To misquote the Duke of Wellington, I don't know what effect these Zeppelin railcar derivatives will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me!

Having said that however, there was one British railway that saw missiles ( including the first captured V2) and satellites being hauled in by steam along with coal and oil - the mile long branch running from Farnborough station on the London Waterloo - Salisbury line and the Royal Aircraft Establishment.  This was built through the streets of the town by German prisoners during the First World War and from 1955 Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST "Invincible" joined a Fowler diesel that had been plying back and forth since 1939.  The line closed, easing traffic congestion, on 9 April 1968 although rails are still visible on the corner of Union Street and Elm Grove Road and another part of the trackbed has been named Invincible Road.  Fortunately the locomotive itself has been preserved on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
 
 

   

Perhaps the most surprising thing about BattleSpace was Triang's choice of motive power, ranging from the R558 Victorian era LMS "Jinty" ( surely the steam would have given the position of the BattleSpace train away to enemies? ) to the R752 Turbo Ram Car - unable to couple to anything but ready to give any trains not running on time ahead of it a nasty shock! To misquote the Duke of Wellington, I don't know what effect these Zeppelin railcar derivatives will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me!