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The History of Hornby Train Sets
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The History of Hornby Train Sets

Hornby Train Set You don't have to be a child to discover the thrill and excitement of playing with a Hornby train set. People of every age have developed a passion and love for Hornby trains, and this is emphasised in a new television advert which focuses on one man growing up as a boy through to becoming a grandfather and still enjoying the delight of seeing those fascinating engines chugging round a patiently and thoughtfully assembled track lay-out. And, of course, there is also the appeal of building up a collection of engines, tracks, bogies and all the rest of it. Customising your train set is another reason why Hornby train sets are so popular. There is so much scope for development. You can use your imagination to add extra track; new locos and carriages. You can landscape your lay-out if you have the room and the inclination, or introduce a touch of reality by adding from the range of model buildings, vehicles, farm animals, trees and people that are available. You can even buy buildings and trappings appropriate to the age of the train – be it steam, electric or diesel.
The name Hornby has been synonymous with the model railway hobby ever since toy trains first came on to the market in 1920. Hornby trains, named after their founder, Frank Hornby, were an immediate success, and from the original clockwork trains there evolved the electric version.
Hornby Trains also proved a hit abroad, and particularly popular was the launch of American-style trains that were more attractive and colourful in appearance than their British counterparts. Then came Hornby Dublo, a series of 00 gauge tinplate trains, which brought unprecedented demand for their products.

A number of mergers and takeovers followed before Hornby became Hornby Hobbies. Privatisation of the railways and a number of changes on British Railways brought new, eye-catching liveries and Hornby were quick to seize on the opportunity to produce new, better-quality models, while the television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends provided them with a ready-made product range which sent sales soaring after the launch of the Thomas series in 1985. More recently, Hogwarts Express, from the Harry Potter movie series, has also been very good for Hornby sales.
Enthusiasts of more senior years, in particular, are attracted by the detailed replicas of real trains, such as The Flying Scotsman, The Mallard and The Royal Scot. BR's electric Class 90 and 91 locomotives and Mk4 Inter-City coaches were also added to the available models, while privatised companies have also paved the way for even more choice of liveries.
Since 1995 all the manufacture of Hornby train sets has been done in China, and in September 2003 came the first commercially produced '00' gauge live steam locomotive, providing yet another product for a range which is constantly expanding. Currently there are more than 650 items available and the company, now called simply 'Hornby', continues to hold the prime position it has held as Britain's leading model railway manufacturer for more than half a century.