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85/2583-30 Toy steam locomotive, Hornby No.101 tank locomotive 'LMS 2270', type 0-4-0, clockwork operated, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1947-1954. Click to enlarge.

Toy tank locomotive

  • 1947-1954
This Hornby No.101 LMS 2270 toy tank steam locomotive, made between 1947 and 1954, was built by Meccano Ltd for their 0-gauge range of Hornby toy trains. The Hornby toy trains and accessories are a microcosm of railway social and technological history in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century.

Trains were the first form of modern transport to be reproduced as toys. Wooden pull-along trains were available in Britain from the 1840s, not long after the commercial introduction of full-size railways. By the 1870s the wooden toy train was replaced with tin-plate locomotives, hauling carriages, which were often powered by clockwork or steam. The German toy manufacturers dominated the world market at this time. The First World War broke this monopoly and the rise of patriotism in Britain saw an emphasis on local toy production there.

The scene was set for the English inventor of Meccano, Frank Hornby, to market his 0-gauge trains in 1920. Hornby trains became the most comprehensive ever produced. The series developed into finely-detailed locomotives, as well as commercial vans, wagons and tankers together with a range of accessories including stations, goods sheds, signals, crossings, water tanks and signal boxes. They were exported from the Liverpool factory to many countries including Australia, Canada, Egypt, New Zealand, Rhodesia and South Africa. In Australia, Hornby trains of the four major British railway companies became as familiar to boys as Australian rolling stock.

Two years after Frank Hornby's death in 1936 Meccano Ltd introduced the smaller Hornby Dublo (00-gauge) table top trains which were more affordable and convenient than the 0-gauge. This gauge became the most popular type of toy trains for the next 50 years. From the late 1950s no further effort was devoted to 0-gauge trains and by the 1960s their popularity had diminished. Today model railway production is aimed at adult collectors and is increasingly removed from the traditional children's toy trains. Many of the original collectors have kept and added to their interwar childhood 0-gauge toy train layouts with stations, tunnels, landscapes and rolling stock forming a historical diorama of twentieth century land transport.

Marsh, Hugo, "Miller's Toys & Games Antiques Checklist", Reed International Books Limited, London, 1995

Margaret Simpson
Curator, Toys in the Attic exhibition
January 2008


Object No.


Object Statement

Toy steam locomotive, Hornby No.101 tank locomotive 'LMS 2270', type 0-4-0, clockwork operated, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1947-1954

Physical Description

Toy steam locomotive, Hornby No.101 tank locomotive "LMS 2270", type 0-4-0, clockwork operated, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1947-1954

This toy steam engine is a tank locomotive. A tank locomotive carries both its water supply in tanks placed around the boiler (in this case in side tanks) and a small supply of coal in a bunker behind the footplate rather than in a separate hauled tender.

The toy locomotive has a lithographed tin-printed livery in green with gold fine lining. Tin printed details include the cab hand rails. The cab sides, water tanks and boiler are red and the cab roof, cylinders, smoke box, framing and spoked coupled wheels are black. The locomotive is fitted with a steam dome, front and rear buffers and lamp brackets on the smoke box door and front buffer beam. It is clockwork operated. The company initials LMS (London Midland and Scottish Railway) are printed in gold letters with red shading on the water tanks while the locomotive number "2270" is carried on the bunker sides.



70 mm


65 mm


185 mm



  • 1947-1954


The No.101 or Type 101 tank locomotive was made by Hornby after the Second World War and replaced the M3 tank locomotive which first appeared in 1931. The M3 was almost half the price of the No.1 tank locomotive and was said to have been one of the most popular produced in the series. The M3 and the Type 101 looked similar to the Hornby No.1 tank locomotive except that instead of being enamelled had a tin-printed livery.

The 101 was issued in the usual four company liveries, green for SR and LNER and black for GW and LMS and first came out in 1947. The Type 101 LMS differed from the pre-War M3 LMS in that the former had black wheels and the latter red wheels.

Manufacturing and trademark details printed on the bunker backs of Type 101 tank locomotives help to date them. The first had the pre-War style used up to 1948, "Hornby / Manf'd by Meccano Ltd". The second version used up to 1949 had "Hornby / Made in England by Meccano Ltd", while the last version, used from 1949 until 1954, had "Hornby / Type 101 / Made in England / By Meccano Ltd".

The 101 tank locomotive was withdrawn in 1954 and replaced with the black livered British Rail Type 40 tank locomotive. This followed the nationalisation of the British Rail System on the full size railways which had occurred in 1948.

Graebe, Chris and Julie, "The Hornby Gauge 0 System", New Cavendish Books, London, 2002



This toy steam locomotive is part of a large collection purchased by the Museum in 1985 from the tin toy collector, Ken Finlayson. As a boy, Finlayson admired steam trains but never owned a train set. As an adult he began collecting Hornby model trains, and his interest spread to other toy trains and tin toys. He increased his collection at auctions, swap meets and market stalls, and through his connections with toy dealers and other serious collectors. Some toys were simply found sitting neglected on the shelves of remote country newsagencies, brand new and never opened.

Finlayson's knowledge and love of toys brought him a collection of nearly 2000 items, including highly collectable tin-plate toys manufactured by respected names such as Carette, Bing, Marklin and Lehmann, as well as a variety of other German, English and Japanese makers. The Finlayson collection contains every type of transport toy - cars, trucks, tractors, fire engines, buses, motorcycles, aeroplanes, ships and trains, as well as novelty toys, robots, kitchen toys and Meccano sets. It represents the type of toys that were available in Australia throughout most of the twentieth century, including ones made here by Boomaroo, Wyn-toy, Cyclops, Ferris and Robilt. These Australian toys were usually built from heavy-gauge pressed steel rather than thin tin plate, making them sturdy enough for rough treatment in Australian backyards and sandpits.

Cite this Object


Toy tank locomotive 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 14 April 2021, <https://ma.as/43786>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/43786 |title=Toy tank locomotive |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=14 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Transport at the Museums Discovery Centre.