Tri-ang Railways was a British manufacturer of toy trains, one of the elements of the Lines Bros Ltd company who traded using the brands Tri-ang, Minic, Pedigree, and Frog. The Tri-ang Railways name was dropped a few years after Lines Bros took over the Hornby name although the majority of the trains were still the original Tri-ang models.
The brothers George and Joseph Lines made wooden toys in the Victorian age, their company being G & J Lines Ltd. Joseph was the active partner while George went into farming. Joseph (or Joe) had four sons. Three of these — William, Walter and Arthur Edwin Lines — formed Lines Bros Ltd shortly after World War I. Three Lines make a triangle, hence the Tri-ang. Arthur's son, Richard Lines, was largely responsible for the Tri-ang Railways system.
Foundation of Tri-ang Railways
Rovex Plastics Ltd was founded just after World War II in 1946 by Alexander Gregory Vanetzian, who made toys for Marks & Spencer. Venetzian was asked to develop an electric toy train set for Christmas 1950. He delivered the product but although the company had found larger premises in a former Brewery in Richmond, it was constrained financially. Lines Bros were looking to expand into railways and so they purchased Rovex. Their products would be sold under the Tri-ang Railways name from 1951. To give room for development they moved the company now Rovex Scale Models Ltd to a brand new factory built at Margate, in Kent, in 1954.
Tri-ang also manufactured a garden railway system called Tri-ang Minic Narrowgauge Railway, thus being known as TMNR. This was a 10.25" gauge passenger carrying system using 2 rail electric pick-up with motors running at 40 volts DC. This was produced in the early 1960s and not a commercial success, with less than 90 'sets' being produced.
Expansion and name changes
The success of Tri-ang meant that British competitors Trix and Hornby-Dublo were affected. In 1964, Hornby Dublo, a division of Meccano Ltd, had stopped production and Meccano Ltd invited Lines Bros. Ltd to buy them out. Tri-ang purchased the company including a large amount of stock. The combined toy railways was marketed as Tri-ang Hornby although the vast majority of the models was all Tri-ang. The Lines Bros empire itself collapsed in 1971, and was broken up. The model railways, then marketed as Tri-ang Hornby, were sold to the Dunbee-Combex-Marx group, but the rights to the Tri-ang brand were sold elsewhere; accordingly (the Hornby name being established and recognised), from 1 January 1972, the model railways were rebranded Hornby Railways.
Australian and New Zealand models
A number of Tri-ang models specific to Australia were produced by Moldex in Melbourne during the 1960s, including
- NSW 1955 type suburban electric motor car and driving trailer car.
- A blue version of NSW 1955 type suburban cars pretending to be a faux Victoria EMU was planned but never produced
- Victorian B class double-ended diesel also came in 'Transaustralia' livery.
Other models were manufactured in Auckland, New Zealand, but were mainly the same as those made in England but there were interesting variations
The Australian and New Zealand models were produced in 00 gauge only.
South African models
A limited number of models were manufactured in Durban, South Africa. These are very rare.
- Hammond, Pat (1993). Tri-ang Railways. The Story of Rovex. 1 1950-1965. London: New Cavendish Books. ISBN 0-904568-57-1.
- Hammond, Pat (1998). Tri-ang Hornby. The Story of Rovex. 2 1965-1971. London: New Cavendish Books. ISBN 1-872727-58-1.
- Hammond, Pat (2005). Hornby Railways. The Story of Rovex. 3 1972-1996. London: New Cavendish Books. ISBN 1-904562-00-0.