Trix Twin Railway : Model History in Pictures 1935 to 1937
Photos of every Trix item made with catalogue numbers
© Copyright 2004-2012 Garry Lefevre all rights reserved
1935 to 1937
In this period
· Trix Express the first 00 gauge model railway in the World
· TTR introduced at the British Industries Fair in 1936
· Trix Train models in LMS, LNER and Southern Railway liveries with catalogue numbers
· The first attempt at a scale model of the “Portsmouth train” in 00
· From wooden buildings to metal Manyways stations
· Also known as Twin Trains
1935 the beginning ....
On Sunday 3rd March 1935 the World of 00 gauge model railways began. This new smaller scale system was first presented at the Leipzig Trade Fair by the Vereinigte Spielwaren-Fabriken, (the United Toy Factory). The name of their new smaller model railway was called Trix Express. A year later this was to become “TRIX TWIN” in the UK. More about this exhibition and the very first 1935 newspaper advertisement, (February 1935), for Trix model railways and latter ones can be seen on the links : For the exhibition 1935 Exhibition layouts and for the first newspaper ads : – Advertisements for Trix.
Prior to this date model railways were 0 gauge or even larger. Whilst experiments had been made as early as 1912 by Märklin, (this was nearer to “S” gauge) it was not a success because of the unreliability of the small electric motors at that time. In the 1920’s the Bing table top railway was a success as clockwork models and latter a few electric engines were introduced. But the system was very toy like. The company producing these went bankrupt in the 1930’s following the Wall Street crash. But the originator Stephan Bing joined with Siegfried Kahn, ( the inventor of the Twin running system as recorded by the British Patent office), to build on their experience and develop a more comprehensive 00 system. They bought into a company - the Vereinigte Spielwaren-Fabriken – partly for this purpose. The company already had a Meccano style construction set with the name TRIX. Hence the name chosen TRIX EXPRESS for these new model trains.
Above the very first Trix train on the very first public layout shown on the 3rd March 1935 in Leipzig.
Note the coaches have windows on the ends and the track is not the black colour later used. These were prototypes and were modified before production in the summer of 1935.
Example similar to the original track produced in early 1950 by Trix for an exhibition.
From the beginning the company presented a complete system, a locomotive, coaches, goods wagons, a variety of track, buildings and accessories.
Throughout the development of Trix trains another influential person was Wynne Bassett Lowke both before and after 1935. He and Stephan Bing had known each other since 1900 when Bing started to manufacture English outline 0 gauge trains for export to England. Bassett Lowke was mainly a mail order business with a couple of retail shops. Most of the items he sold were not manufactured by his company but produced exclusively by others for his distribution in the UK. The main suppliers were, Bing, Carette and Märklin. He had been in constant discussions with Bing and Kahn during the development stages. He now wished to import these into England and persuaded Bing to repaint the German 0-4-0 from black to green for the English market so as to be able to sell it as a “Southern” style loco with 3 German coaches also in a modified green colour. The catalogue described the set as in “correct Southern Railway Green”. The loco did not have “Southern Railway” on the tender as you would expect but “Trix Express” although the picture in the catalogue shows it as “Twin Train”, both versions have the number 5391
Catalogue nr. 11/2
Sold separately as: Loco 20/51, latter for UK 21/51, coaches 21/152, 21/151
On all the tenders you can see underneath the word “Trix” the word ”Twin” so it was clearly overwritten at the factory. Yet the word “Express” has not been over written. Trade photographs exist showing the loco with “Twin Express” on the tender, clearly a last minute change.
Catalogue nr. 11/1
Sold separately as: Loco 20/51, latter for UK 21/51, wagons 21/64, 21/68, 21/67, 21/62
The same green loco was used in the Goods set, with one covered van, one open truck, one shell tank wagon, and one goods van. All the wagons were unchanged German stock described in the English catalogue simply as “Finished in correct colours”, what ever that meant!
Both sets were sold in similar boxes, only the insert to support the coaches or goods wagons was different.
The loco above is the black one for the German market
They came with 4 straight rails and 12 curves, a controller, 6 plugs, and an instruction book. Transformers had to be bought separately a necessity as mains electricity varied in different parts of the country.
In the UK Bassett Lowke was the principal importer and promoter of these new trains. Evidence exists to show that Hamleys Toy shop in Regent Street, London imported direct not only trains but other toy products of the German company. Bassett-Lowke for the first few years always referred to these as the “Twin Trains” or “Twin Train Table Railway”. The Bassett Lowke’s own catalogue and a special one he printed for these new trains never uses the name Trix anywhere in the catalogue. However the Hamleys Xmas 1935 catalogue used the name Trix Express through out.
Above the two catalogues issued in 1935, selling the same trains but with different names !
The price for the complete passenger train was just £2 and the goods set 35/- or £ 1-75. Probably about £100 in today’s money
The bogie coaches were also different for the English market lacking the German markings but still in green. Goods wagons were no different
The ins The inside of the first 1935 catalogue, shows mainly items available to the German market with some changes. The loco for England was in green whereas in Germany it was in black. The green tender in the catalogue shows:-
The station called “Trixstadt” in Germany was renamed “Twin City” for the UK
Catalogue 21/270, latter as 804
The design of the station was based on an ‘O’ gauge station made by Bassett-Lowke some years earlier ( photo below of the 1932 model). This was designed by Henry Greenly working with the principle architect of the London Underground. The station is very similar to the designs one sees where the trains run above ground in the London suburbs. The 00 German stations had a round clock face with a flag on the tower, whereas the English version from 1936 had a square face and no flag, not withstanding the picture in the catalogue.
Above the 0 gauge station : even the blue line under the roof is copied on the Trix Express 00 station
The very first wooden buildings in 1935 were painted in a pale green colour, this was only for a short time before the colour was changed to pale cream.
Catalogue nr: engine shed21/272, goods shed 21/273, station 21/270 or 804, island platform21/271 or 807, signal 21/203
Above are the four initial buildings shown at Leipzig in March 1935. By September the engine shed had grown higher and longer to accommodate the pantographs on the 0-4-0 electric loco introduced in the autumn. Thus the early small green engine shed was made for a very short time less than 4 months.
To see more of these and other buildings in the Trix range from 1935 to 1954 see the link to - TTR Buildings
Other items imported into England in 1935 were :-
The coach on the left was only imported by Hamleys described as a Pullman car Catalogue nr. 21/153.
The suburban coach in both catalogues was the German Catalogue nr. 21/103
It is a puzzle why the red Mitropa was chosen and not the wagons lits with the words in English “ Dining car”
Aside from the goods wagons in the sets, four other wagons were imported, a Brake van (Catalogue nr. 21/163), an open truck without load, Catalogue nr. 21/61, ( the one in the set is with coal Catalogue nr 21/67), a Timber wagon (Catalogue nr 21/69) a Tarpaulin wagon (Catalogue nr 21/66). The first of these was the German long covered van which looks nothing like a brake van. The popular “Jamaican banana” wagon was not imported until 1936, probably why it is a scarce item for collectors today.
The telegraph pole ( 21/234) was in both catalogues
The Hamleys’ catalogue also shows the mile stones ((21/233).
The runaway success of these autumn imports meant they were sold out well before Xmas. Bassett Lowke realised if English out line models were made he would have a winning product to sell. So with agreement of Stephan Bing in late 1935 he commissioned Henry Greenly to design English outline stock to put onto the German chassis for both locos and rolling stock. Track, controllers etc would continue to be imported from Germany.
Already in 1932 the German company had set up a UK subsidiary – Trix Ltd – in London with Franz Bing ( Stephan’s son) as director. The company was used to market and produce locally Trix construction sets. For this purpose a Northampton company was chosen - Winteringham Ltd, a company associated with Bassett Lowke Ltd. It was now this company that was asked to produce the English out line trains.
A second development was to ask Winteringham to produce the wooden buildings also instead of importing them from Germany. The company was already producing the larger 0 gauge station and island platform for Bassett Lowke. The design of the goods shed was changed and the engine shed changed by Henry Greenly. All were now painted in a more realistic concrete colour of pale yellow.
The scene was set to introduce the new line at the British Industries Fair in the spring of 1936
Before we look at the English models, in the early part of 1936 more sets were imported from Germany similar to the above original sets. However the loco’s wheels had been changed to spoke wheels and the box was no longer square but oblong, a design that was to last for many years. The first few imported had their wheels painted red like the German original, but soon they were changed to black.
Catalogue nr. 11/2
A goods set was also imported with the number 11/1
The success of the introduction in 1935 led to a decision early in 1936 to start using the “Trix” name together with the word “Twin”, (capitalising on the publicity of the launch of “Twin sets”). It was hoped this would be accepted by Bassett Lowke so he would drop the Twin Train Table Railway label he was using in his publicity. But he was stubborn and went on using his own preferred name right up to 1939 with Trix Ltd using the name Trix Twin on all their boxes, literature and advertisements. Indeed there are magazines where the same item is being shown in two different advertisements one with the name “Trix Twin” and the other with “ Twin Trains” !
To see more of these first newspaper ads click on – Advertisements for Trix.
Clearly to design, tool up, and produce models would take time. The target was the Xmas market when 60% of sales occurred each year between end of October and December. Thus in the early part of 1936 the German models continued to be imported. The only significant change was to the wheels of the loco, which changed from the flat disc type to spokes. The English ones were in black whereas the German ones were in red.
From the autumn of 1936 one could buy the first “TRIX TWIN” models in the liveries of LMS ( London Midland Scottish) and LNER ( London North Eastern Railway). Southern Railway fans had to wait until 1937. GWR models were planned but the railway company refused permission to use their name as they thought the locos too unrealistic. This ban lasted until the late 1950’s when the 0-6-2 tank and some scale coaches were produced.
Sold separately as: Loco 2/510, (goods version 2/515), coaches 2/550,2/555
Sold separately as: Loco 2/520, coaches 2/560, 2/580, 2/570
Sold separately as: Loco 2/525, wagons 2/621,2/609,2/603,2/650
Sold separately as: Loco 4/510, (goods version 4/515), coaches 4/550,4/555
Sold separately as: Loco 4/520, coaches 4/560, 4/580, 4/570
Sold separately as: Loco 4/525, wagons 4/621,4/660,640,4/650
Sold separately as: 662,609,606,605,604
Sets were sold in long red boxes, whilst individual items were sold in plane buff coloured boxes. Note some of the labels had “TTR Trix Twin Railway”, whilst others had “TTR Bassett Lowke”. It is known that Bassett Lowke employed two ladies to stick his labels on Trix boxes. At the time of writing ( March 2010) one of these ladies in her 90’s is still alive living in Northampton. This continued until the late 1940’s when red boxes were used for single items and reference to Bassett Lowke dropped.
Before leaving 1936 it is worth reflecting on a photo taken at a commercial fair of a TTR layout showing a mysterious 0-4-0 in the outline of a Southern suburban motorised coach. Could this have been a prototype that never got into production? The German small 4 wheel green coaches were imported as “Southern suburban coaches”, so a loco would have been an idea to go with them.
This was the year with steady development of new models based on those started in 1936. Early in the year Trix Twin added the livery of Southern Railway to the existing LMS and LNER range with the introduction of a passenger and a freight train.
Sold separately as: Loco 5/520, coaches 5/560, 5/580, 5/570 and an all 3rd 5/590 ( not shown above)
Sold separately as: Loco 5/525, wagons 5/603,643, 661,5/650
In the spring of 1937 TTR introduced the first “Scale model in HO in the World”. This was a model of the SR electrically motorised coach used on the route from London to Portsmouth. The motor unit was made entirely in Nürenberg whilst the coaches were made in England. Soon after TE introduced the Diesel Flyer (20/58), based on the Portsmouth but with the addition of white and red lights which changed over according to the direction of travel.
Mtor coach by itself 5/530
One unique aspect was the method of the bogies swivelling in the chassis as designed and patented by him. No central pivot pin is used either under or over the motor as was more common on other models. Instead the die-cast frame is provided with four curved guides having both vertical and horizontal faces. These rub on corresponding faces on the pressed steel under frame as can be seen from the patent application extract below.
The Trix Company was now firmly establishing the name “Trix Twin” and the symbol TTR in the public’s mind. Oddly Basset-Lowke continued to market their own catalogue with the name “Twin Train” sets up to early 1939 whilst ignoring the name “Trix Twin” in their catalogues.
In the summer TTR introduced the London Transport electric locomotive – (the prototype followed the UK practice of picking the current up from an additional rail). It was based on an 0-4-0 with pantographs made by Trix Express. The pantographs were omitted, and the embossed “Trix Express” on the sides eliminated.
Catalogue nr . 7/530
Sometime during 1937 Trix started to change the print on the goods wagons, e.g. changing the pale grey LMS ones to dark brown. The catalogue numbers were the same and both were sold at the same time. By 1938 a full range of new wagons was available, this will be covered in looking at that year. For example :-
In the late 1937 Trix announced a new concept in stations : the Manyways Station units. A number of basic units could be put together in a large number of combinations to construct a whole series of different stations. These were designed by E W Twining. The final production version differed from the prototype in a number of respects. Twining had proposed the covered span should be over 4 tracks not 3. This required a higher span and to keep the buildings in proportion they had two stories with second row of windows, smaller than the ones on the first floor. The clock tower was also larger. This was rejected as too large in favour of the model we all know below. Photos of these other designs can be seen on the link - TTR Buildings
For more information showing the development of Manyways see the section on buildings:
Before we leave 1937, it is worthy recording that it was at this time both Stephan Bing and Siegfried Kahn made the decision to leave Germany. As Jews life was becoming dangerous. At first the British Government refused them permission to stay in England not withstanding that they owned a successful business here. They then applied to go to America but Bassett Lowke intervened. He had many contacts in the Government who he persuaded to allow them and some colleagues from Germany to stay in England. If they had gone to America who knows how Trix would have developed : for a start production would not have stopped in 1939 but gone on with many new models until 1942 or longer !!