When was the earliest model railway

New to model railways, this new series is just for you. Every Monday, will bring a new factoid, tip or fun fact to help you get up to speed with your new hobby.

As this is the my first Monday Morning Factoid, let’s start with a quick fact about the first model railway.

Although model railways as we know them in the UK today started in the early 1900’s with W J Bassett-Lowke’s trains, and really took off in the 1950s, the original model trains can be dated back further back.

It may be hard to believe but the first model train was emerged just a few years after the real steam trains were seen, with the wonderfully named Birmingham Dribbler’s going on sale in the UK in 1840.

These were trains with working steam engines but scaled down and designed to run across floors – they didn’t have tracks back then. Their name – Birmingham Dribblers – stems from their place of manufacturer and the habit of leaking water, dribbling a trail behind them.

Made chiefly from Brass, these working engines were very popular Victorian toys and no doubt helped spark what has gone on to be a hugely popular hobby loved by children and adults alike and which, if Hornby’s growth in sales are anything to go by, is experiencing a resurgence.

Picture: Wikipedia


Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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