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85/2586-8 Toy railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1955-1957. Click to enlarge.

Toy railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station

  • 1955-1957
This Hornby No.3 toy railway station, made between about 1955 and 1957, is one of the lineside accessories built by Meccano Ltd for their 0-gauge range of Hornby toy trains. The tin printing on the station provides a fascinating glimpse into the clothes, railway architecture and the social history of British rail travel in the late 1950s. 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 propulsion. 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.

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 in Britain. 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 towers and signal boxes. They were exported from the Liverpool factory to all corners of the British Empire 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 distant from the traditional children's toy railways. Many of the original collectors have kept and added to their interwar childhood 0-gauge toy railway layouts with stations, tunnels, landscapes and rolling stock forming an historical diorama of twentieth century land transport.

Margaret Simpson, Curator, 14 August, 2007


Object No.


Object Statement

Toy railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1955-1957

Physical Description

Toy railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station, 0-gauge, metal, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1955-1957

The Hornby No.3 toy railway station is a single storey structure comprising a tin-printed station building sitting on an enamelled-painted platform. The tin printing on the platform side of the building features an Art Deco style rectangular entrance way, leading to the booking hall, topped with a square clock. Through the archway a porter can be seen pushing a trolley with luggage, a curved booking office, and a woman with a boy passing through a lattice gate next to a ticket inspector. On the platform, two doors on the left-hand-side advise that they are the stationmaster's office and a waiting room. On the right is a bookstall, where a man purchases an item, and the door to the refreshment room.

On the roadside of the station building is the mirror image of the characters seen through the archway, with the addition of a man buying tickets from the 3rd class window. The outside wall of the station building features a train timetable, travel posters, a platform trolley with luggage, two dogs and a pile of luggage including a set of golf clubs.

The walls are finished in three colours, light cream, cream and brown, with detailing picked out in green. The roof is orange tiles with a dark green trim.



150 mm


155 mm


430 mm



  • 1955-1957


The first Hornby railway station or 'Windsor' station was produced in 1923 and by 1924 three hinged doors were fitted to the front. The Hornby No.2 station, the Windsor station, differed from the Hornby No.1 station, also known as the Wayside Station, in that the latter did not have a fence, chimney, ramps or opening doors.

In 1927 a new printing saw minor changes of the ticket windows labelled 1st and 3rd class instead of 1st and 2nd class. From early 1929 the platform came in enamelled yellow-cream and in about 1931 the tin printing was altered with the figures depicted wearing more modern clothing and the cars of a more recent vintage, although the boys still wear their Meccano jerseys. A third printing featured three ticket windows instead of the previous two and in 1932 the 2E station was introduced with a pair of electric lamps outside the building.

The fourth printing featured one ticket window and a platform of light-green enamel introduced in 1933. A dark blue roof was added the following year. Early in 1936 a choice of No.2 and 2E station names was provided namely 'Wembley', 'Ripon', 'Brighton' or 'Margate' instead of just 'Windsor'. Late in 1936 'Reading' replaced 'Bristol'.

In 1937 a new tin printing of the roof and building was undertaken and the platform also began to be tin printed. The new No.3 station used a new tin printing but the No.1 station was unchanged. The No.4 station differed from the No.2 station in that it did not have opening doors but had a walk-through booking hall featuring a mazac ticket office barrier and cast chimney pots. The roofs were green instead of blue, the buildings buff instead of red brick and the platform was speckled buff instead of green. The No.4E station was fitted with lights. Eventually the Nos 3, 4 and 4E stations replaced the Nos 1, 2 and 2E.

In 1939 the Nos 3, 4 and 4E stations had a revised tin printing which saw the round arch over the booking hall change to a more Art Deco style square arch. After the Second World War only the No.3 station was produced and a green roofed version was produced until it was replaced in 1955 with an orange roof. This station was available until 1957.

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



This toy railway station 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 railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Toy railway station, Hornby No.3 railway station |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Transport at the Powerhouse Museum.