The November Meeting 2019
Trix Model Railways
Talk by Steve White
President John Turner introduced club member Steve White who spoke about the Trix model railway system which has been his hobby since childhood.
Steve began telling us that this is his second talk to a Probus club. His first was about 30 years ago to my father's group in Berwick upon Tweed. At that time Steve’s career was in broadcasting TV and radio, so it included his experiences of the BBC, Thames Television, LWT and Channel Four - a career that he enjoyed and which lasted 40 years.
For this his second talk Steve choose a different 40-year pleasure - Trix Twin Model Railways. Trix produced the first ‘OO’ gauge electric train set launched in Germany in1935. It had die-cast metal locomotives and tinplate rolling stock. It ran on 14 volts AC and was quite complex in design. It was so successful that the well-known British model company 'Bassett-Lowke' imported the motors and other parts to produce a British version, The Bassett-Lowke Twin Train. This soon became known as 'Trix Twin'. 'Twin' because it was possible to remotely control two locomotives independently on the same track. The Trix factory was in Northampton.
A short history of Trix can be found on http://www.ttrca.co.uk/TTR.htm
By 1939 Trix had introduced other splendid models of express locomotives, including the LMS 'Coronation', 'Princess' and the LNER 'Scotsman'. But the outbreak of war put a halt to new models and the factory turned to the manufacture of war materials.
Many of the German toy companies had Jewish owners or managers, including Trix, and Bassett-Lowke welcomed several who fled to England from Germany. The German Trix factory passed to Nazi ownership, when it concentrated on the war effort.
After the war it took several years for the British Trix factory to resume production because of the shortage of materials. It then concentrated on exports for example models of American model trains went to the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
By 1951 Trix were producing a wide range of British models including the 'Scotsman' express locomotive, the 'Meteor Diesel Express' and 'Manyways' station parts and the 'Elevator Conveyor'.
However, there was stiff competition from Hornby Dublo and Triang models railways. These were cheaper, more realistic in appearance, and had simpler DC electric motors.
Trix were forced to change their motors to DC, and went through several ownership changes in order to attract investment. By 1958 The Company was producing an excellent range of realistic DC models but these were still very expensive when compared to the competing manufacturers.
In the 1960’s the Company was owned by The Courtaulds Group and they produced a range of plastic models rather than using the traditional die - cast metal and tinplate materials.
Production ended in the 1970's, and in 1975 the Trix Twin Railway Collectors' Association was founded. This has around 650 members including some who operate vintage layouts at model railway shows. The TTRCA has a quarterly magazine which Steve produces, and manufactures spare parts for its members' trains. Steve also manage its website www.TTRCA.co.uk and his own Trix website www.TRIX.co.uk where more information can be found about operating and collecting Trix model railways.
At question time and in answer to Colin Kyte, Steve replied that with regard to value that much depended on the rarity of the model but by and large the pre-war heavy die-cast locos are seen as being more valuable as they ‘felt more expensive’ .
In reply to John Clifford Steve replied that in the early days the Trix transformer, that converted mains voltage to 14 volts, plugged into the electric light socket. To Ross Silver who asked about intellectual property and whether the manufacturers had to pay licence fees to reproduce the train, Steve answered that they did not and the railways were probably very pleased to see thousands of replicas of their livery in circulation.
David Richardson’s question related to the time it took to manufacture a model which would be part of a production run. Steve replied that Trix models were mass produced, most by the thousands and many parts were supplied by sub-contractors e.g. Fry’s Diecastings. Steve estimated that hundreds would be manufactured, assembled, painted, packaged and distributed every day.
Giving the vote of thanks John Turner thanked Steve for such an interesting and well received presentation. He said it was clearly a subject which invoked happy childhood memories and he envied Steve his continued commitment to his hobby.
Steve had brought along part of his collection of Trix models, including an operating train on an oval track, which was on display for members to see before and after the lunch
Report by Steve White
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