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British Industrial History

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Lines Brothers

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c1926. De-Luxe Fairy Cycle by Triang.
November 1932.
1933. Frog Model Aircraft.
1933. Frog Model Aircraft.
December 1938.
January 1939. Minic Models.
January 1939. From Model Aircraft.
March 1939.
December 1939
October 12 1946.
1952 Prestige
1952 Vogue
1956. Frog 1/72 Scale Models.

Lines Bros. Ltd was a British toy manufacturer, operating principally under the Tri-ang brand name. At its peak, the company claimed to be the largest toy maker in the world. They also made rocking horses for almost a century.

of Ormside Street, Old Kent Road, London, SE15. Telegrams: Triangtois, Phone, London. Telephone: 1640 New Cross, (3 Lines). Showroom at 9 Fore Street, London, EC2. Telephone: 337 Wall. (1922)

of Tri-Ang Works, Morden Road, Merton, London, SW19. Telephone: Wimbledon 3067. Cables: "Triangtois, London". (1929)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Liberty 4242. Cables: "Triangois, Phone, London". (1947 - Lines Brothers). Telephone: Liberty 1046. Cables: "Pesotoy, Phone, London". (1947 - Pedigree Soft Toys)

Showrooms at Fore Street, London, EC2. Birmingham branch at The Unique and Unity Cycle Co, St Stephen's Street. Telephone: Wimbledon 3069. Cables: "Triangtois, London" (1947)

See G. and J. Lines

Post-WWI the business had to be started afresh.

1919 William Joseph Lines, Walter Lines and Arthur Edwin Lines, 3 of Joseph's sons, formed Lines Bros Ltd. On the basis that 3 Lines make a triangle, they adopted the brand name Tri-ang. (The fourth son George Edward Lines was part of the business by 1939 and probably earlier). They obtained an old factory on the Old Kent Road and a timber wharf on the Surrey Canal full of wood-working machinery. They sold off a lot of old equipment and re-equipped the factory. Soon after they added a second factory in the Old Kent Road.

1919 Private company incorporated, limited by shares[1]

1922 Lines Brothers Advert (double page) for: 27 different Model Doll's Houses and Period Furniture to match; The Latest Rage - Hopping Poles; Sportiboy Rocking and Push Horses; The Kiddies want Cars and Sidecars like Daddy's; Scooters from Cheapest to Best; The Ford of the Toy Auto World Chain Drive; Largest Output in the World of Doll's Carriages. "Triangtois" - The Worlds Best Toys. (Stand No. F.39) [2]

Needing more space they acquired a 47 acre site in Merton, built a new factory on it and moved all of the production there.

1929 Lines Brothers Advert for Pedigree Prams, Tri-Ang Toys and Cycles. Also Fairtcycle (Registered Trade Mark), Motor Cars, Pedal Kars, Forlding Baby Carriages, Engines, Barrows, Scooters, Dolls Prams, Dolls Houses, Desks, Juvenile Furniture, Swings, etc. (Toys, Games and Baby Carriages Section - Stand No E.27) [3]

Acquired Unique and Unity Cycle Co in Birmingham and built a new factory for it.

1931 Acquired Hamley Brothers shop in London

Arthur's son, Richard Lines, was largely responsible for the Tri-ang Railways system.

1933 Developed a new business in clockwork mechanical toys. Acquired a considerable interest in International Model Aircraft Ltd. Public issue of preference shares[4]

1937 As International Model Aircraft Ltd. Manufacturers of model aeroplanes. "Frog" Model Aircraft. [5]

Sold some land at Merton to a maker of safety glass.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

At the start of the Second World War, production of children's toys was deemed non-essential by the British Government. As a result, production facilities were converted to weapons manufacture, specifically the Sten Mk III submachine gun. Also made gliders and the first rocket propelled aeroplanes (with 20 ft wing span), infra-red night vision apparatus, and scale models of the Normandy beaches in preparation for D-Day.

Post-WWII: re-established the peacetime business. Re-acquired the land at Merton sold to the glass company.

1946 Bought W. Pearce (Bentwood) Ltd of Lavant as a way of ensuring timber supplies; later extended the factory.

1947 British Industries Fair

  • As International Model Aircraft Ltd. Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of "Frog" Power Models, Petrol and Compression Ignition Engines, Sailplanes, Rubber-powered Models. "Frog" Mark V Fighter, Electric Motors, Hydroplanes, Kites. "Penguin" All Plastic Scale Model Aircraft, Ships, Cars and Doll's Furniture.
  • As Lines Brothers. British Industries Fair Advert as 'World's Largest Toy and Pram Manufacturers'. Triang Toys, Frog Model Aircraft, Unity Juvenile Cycles, Pedigree Pets, Pedigree Soft Toys, Pedigree Dolls, Pedigree Prams and Folders, Nursery Furniture, Minic Clockwork Toys, Pedal Motors, ToddleKars, Educational Toys, PedalKars, Metal Toys, Nursery Toys, Garden Toys, Tinkle Toys, etc. (Toys and Games Section - Olympia, 3rd Floor, Stands No. K.2444 and K.2447) [6]
  • As Pedigree Soft Toys Ltd. British Industries Fair Advert as Manufacturers of almost Unbreakable Dolls (moving and painted eyes - dressed and undressed) Soft Body Dolls, Character Dolls, Teddy Bears, Hygienic True to Life Animal, Soft Toys, Soft Toys on wheels, etc. (Olympia, 3rd Floor, Stands No. K2444 and K.2447) [7]

Needing extra space, they took over an existing factory at Cyfarthfa in South Wales and a new factory outside Belfast as well as establishing businesses in the main ex-Colonial countries and in Europe.

1951 Acquired Rovex Scale Models for their methods of producing electric scale-model railways, including Rovex's factory at Richmond.

1958 Acquired Minimodels[8]

1959 AGM told about changes in subsidiaries[9]:

  • Minic which had been formed in the past year to take over production of Minic toys from the Merton facility.
  • Spot-On Models was formed to make a range of miniature road transport vehicles and cars at 1/42 scale; also made a flexible roadway with buildings at the same scale; occupied part of the Belfast factory.
  • Young and Fogg Rubber Co, maker of rubbers toys with "noises", had been acquired in 1958
  • Etablissements Guy S.A. of Rhone, France
  • Rovex Scale Models at Margate had taken over the 3rd extension to the factory
  • Unique and Unity Cycle Co of Birmingham
  • Ballerina Baby Carries made by Lines Brothers (Richmond) had a successful first year

In all the group had 21 factories.

1961 Retail subsidiaries included Hamley Brothers in Regent Street, London and Youngsters Ltd[10]

1962 The Trionics factory at Havant produced electronic construction sets

At their peak they had 40 companies world-wide, but as a result of losses overseas they were in financial trouble.

1964 Took over Dinky Toys from Meccano. Lines Brothers had its own railway system, Tri-ang Railways. Meccano, which manufactured the Hornby Dublo range, collapsed. Tri-ang purchased the company, and the combined model railway was marketed as Tri-ang-Hornby although the vast majority of the models were all Tri-ang. The Hornby name being more established and recognised, despite the company's failure) the Tri-ang part was dropped and it was sold as Hornby Railways.

1966 Acquired a majority of the shares in G. and R. Wrenn

1971 Called in the Official Receiver. The Group was broken up and sold off. Rovex Tri-ang (which had the Hornby Railways among its portfolio) was Pocket Money Toys and then sold as Rovex, complete with its factories at Margate and Canterbury, to Dunbee Combex Marx (DCM). The name Tri-ang was sold off.

1972 G. and R. Wrenn, a linked toy railway company, bought itself free as Wrenn Railways.

1972 As a result, the Tri-ang Hornby system was given the name Hornby Railways from January.

1975 With the help of the government Airfix Industries rescued Tri-ang Pedigree[11]

1977 Triang-Pedigree was put in the hands of the receiver

1983 Triang was rescued by Sharnaware[12]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Jun 14, 1933
  2. 1922 British Industries Fair Adverts cxlii and cxliii; and p48
  3. 1929 British Industries Fair Advert 212; and p104
  4. The Times, Jun 14, 1933
  5. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  6. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 505; and p146, p168
  7. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 505; and p214
  8. The Times, December 18, 1959
  9. The Times, December 18, 1959
  10. The Times July 17, 1961
  11. The Times, Nov. 11, 1978
  12. The Times Feb. 11, 1983