Category:Bassett-Lowke Exhibition Models

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

While Bassett-Lowke's "consumer" business was composed of outdoor railways, indoor railways and model ships (and later Trix tabletop railways), along with plans, parts and accessories, they also had a "business-to-business" business supplying high-quality bespoke exhibition models.


There were a number of reasons why a company might want Bassett-Lowke to create a custom model:

  • Large showcase models might be displayed at public exhibitions where British industry would have stands showing off their latest plant, factories or machinery, partly as general publicity, and partly as a way of drumming up business.
  • Shipping companies, having spent a lot of money on a luxury liner, would find their executives in the odd position of perhaps hardly ever seeing the actual ships, which would be in port or at sea and not parked alongside the office, so having a very expensive and gorgeously detailed display model would remind execs (and important visitors and clients) what the company actually did. A company whose business was luxury liners would tend to want a display model that looked as expensive as possible, an extreme example being Cunard's commissioned 1:48-scale B-L model of the Queen Elizabeth liner, which was over twenty-one feet long.
  • Companies building new factories or redeveloping docks would want an architectural model, not just to act as a focus for the project, but as something to show to the public and to potential financial backers.

Exhibition models were also eyecatching objects in their own right - someone who might walk past a real car or lorry on display, might stop to look at a scale model (especially if it had cutaways or moving parts) because of the extra element of curiosity in seeing how a model had been executed. Someone who was not particularly interested in, say, a sewage-processing plant might still be quite fascinated by a model of a sewage plant, if it showed impressive craftsmanship.


Bassett-Lowke's first proper exhibition model was produced in 1912, and Ernest Twining was brought in in 1913, moving to Northampton to set up Twining Models and expand the business.

Bassett-Lowke was able to provide a "front end" and "one-stop shop" for companies needing a prestigious model. BL could agree the specification and price and delivery timescale and then organise the project with whichever contractors seemed most suitable, or whoever had the right combination of skills, equipment and availability. In theory, clients could approach B-L's subcontractors directly, but this would mean losing the flexibility of a project-managing company that could assign work to different studios as required. B-L also had an obvious financial stability, and had very nice showrooms (including one in Central London) where company boardmembers could come and marvel at the craftsmanship of some of the pieces on display, and leave totally satisfied that their premium-priced exhibition model project was in safe hands.

Bassett-Lowke Exhibition Models timeline


  • W.J. Bassett-Lowke visits the Paris Exhibition and is inspired by the possibilities.


  • B-L build a quarter-inch-to-the-foot (1:48) model signalling instruction table constructed to the order of the Great Western Railway.


  • Sultan of Turkey ordered complete model railway for his palace in Constantinople.
  • Special model of the latest Great Northern Railway locomotive was ordered by the Duke of Zaragoza, Spain.


  • A silver model table railway constructed for the Maharajah of Gwalior.


  • Demonstration model railway made for the L.N.W.R. Co. for the Trades Exhibition at Bingley Hall, Birmingham.
  • Demonstration model railway made for the L.N.W.R. Co. for the Irish International Exhibition at Dublin.


  • A large Gauge 2 electrically operated model railway built for the L.N.W.R. exhibit at the Franco-British Exhibition at White City, London.


  • Gauge 1 working model railway built for the Imperial Services Exhibition.
  • Fleet of waterline models of three ships to a scale of 1/10th inch to the foot (1:120) supplied to the Navy League.


  • A working model railway designed and built for the East Coast Joint Stock Railways, Brussels Exhibition, awarded the Diploma of Honour.
  • A model electric lighting plant, for the Prince of Wales
  • Special model monorail built for Governor of Kostroma, Russia.
  • Signalling instruction model to a scale of 3/4 inch for the L.N.W.R.


  • Two special models of locomotives built for the Crown Agents for the Colonies for presentation to the Emir of Zaria and the Emir of Katsena, Nigeria.
  • Complete model railway supplied to the Kwong Tung Yueh-Han Railway.
  • Models of the airships by Ms. Paulhan and Mr. Graham White made and exhibited in Northampton.
  • For the Glasgow Exhibition a complete Gauge 2 electrically operated model railway built for the Great Northern, North Eastern and North British Railway Companies combined exhibit.


  • Architectural model of Blackpool to a scale of 40ft. to the inch built for the Blackpool Corporation.


  • Architectural model of Port Sunlight built for Lever Brothers.
  • Architectural model of Immingham Docks built for the Great Central Railway Company.
  • Fleet of working model battleships ranging from 12 to 20 feet long built for the Imperial Services Exhibition, Earls Court.
  • A model of the site of the Aisgill Railway disaster built for the Court of Enquiry.


  • Special model of the site and foundation stone for Port Sunlight Garden City, for the foundation-stone laying ceremony performed by King George V.
  • Model of Dye Works built for Pullars of Perth.
  • Model motor car chassis built for the Rover Company of Coventry
  • Model of Rotterdam Dock works for Wilton Engineering and Slipway Company


  • - various models of wartime equipment for record purposes and for museums


  • Construction of a large number of models of warships, aeroplanes, tanks, road vehicles.


  • 1/12 inch to the foot scale model of the S.S. "Olympic" built for the White Star Line
  • Special department organised for the production of exhibition models of ships, etc.


  • Working models of Post Office Mail Vans operating with ground gear for Gauge 0 and Gauge 1 model railways
  • Half-inch scale model of a Burma Railway 4-6-0 Tender locomotive built to for the Locomotive Superintendent's Department
  • 1/8 inch to the foot model "Massilla" built for the Companie Sud Atlantique


  • Extension of Works for exhibition and ship models
  • Scale model of the "Majestic" built for the White Star Line


  • Smallest model railway in the world made for the Queen’s Dolls House.
  • Wembley Exhibition. Models included Cunard Line "Aquitania", "Mauretania", "Berengaria".
  • 2 ½ inch gauge model of the Canadian Pacific Railway system.


  • Harwich-Zeebrugge train ferry model for the L.N.E.R.
  • Ship's cabin models for R.M.S.P., scaled at three inches to the foot (¼-scale).
  • One-inch scale 2-8-2 locomotive for Nigerian Railways.
  • One-inch scale model railway for Sir Berkeley Sheffield.
  • One tenth of an inch to the foot (1:120) model of the "Cutty Sark".


  • Eighth-scale "Asturias" model for R.M.S.P.
  • Half-inch-scale Compound locomotive for L.M.S.
  • 10ft to 1 inch scale (1:120) model "Shrimp" for Lord Louis Mountbatten.


  • Quarter-inch-scale (1:48) "Royal Scot" locomotive for the L.M.S.


  • 1/10th inch scale model H.M.S. "Hood" for Lord Howard de Walden.
  • Three models of "Carnarvon Castle" for Union Castle Company.
  • Full-size replica of the front few feet of the "Royal Scot" used for Model Engineer Exhibition stand.


  • Model railway supplied to racing motorist Sir Henry Seagrave.
  • ¾ inch scale model of G.W. "King George V" locomotive, for the Great Western Railway Company.
  • Huge 21-foot long model of the RMS "Empress of Britain" ocean liner, for the "Canadian Pacific" exhibit in the Lord Mayor’s Show.
  • MV "Llangibby Castle" passenger liner models for Union Castle Mail Steamship Company.
  • Working electrically-driven scale model, one sixteenth of an inch to the foot (1:192), of Harwich-Zeebrugge train ferry and the dock at Harwich (Antwerp Exhibition, British Section).


  • Miniature Railway ticket sorting device supplied to the Irish Sweepstake, Dublin.
  • M.V. "Bermuda", scale ¼ inch to one foot (1:48), for Shaw, Savill and Albion.
  • Twenty-nine models of "L'Atlantique" for the Charguers Reunis, Paris.
  • Series of sectional _models of the RMS "Empress of Britain" for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.


  • Waterline models of the S.S. "Champlain" for the French Lines.
  • ¼ inch scale "Marnix van Aldegaande" for Nederlands Royal Mail
  • 1/12 scale "Strathmore" model, for P&O
  • ¼ inch scale "Arandora Star" for Blue Star Line.
  • 1/8th scale model "Georgie" for Cunard-White Star Co.
  • 1 inch scale (1:12) Pullman car, "Hazel" for the Southern Railway.


  • Eighth-scale model of the "Britannic" for Cunard-White Star.
  • Quarter-inch-scale model presented to the driver of the "Royal Scot" during official visit to Northampton.
  • Cabin models of the Heysham-Ulster ferry route vessels for the L.M.S.
  • Publicity aircraft models made for Imperial Airways.


  • Models of pylons for the new electricity transmission grid system.
  • Milk pasteurising plant scale model for United Dairies.
  • Quarter-inch-scale model of part of the London Underground system for the London Passenger Transport Board.
  • Eighth-scale models of the "Champlain" and "Colombie"” for the French Lines.
  • Quarter-inch scale working model canal scene for the Grand Union Canal Company.
  • 1:8 scale model Locomotion No. 1 for the Science Museum in Edinburgh.
  • Three-quarter-inch scale model of a de luxe tourist car for Great Indian Peninsular Railway, modelled in section.
  • 3/8th inch scale model of a travelling Post Office for the G.P.O. Exhibit at Radiolympia.


  • Eighth-scale "Normandie" waterline model, internally-lit, 10ft. 4 inches long, for French Lines.
  • Quarter-inch scale model of the "Queen Mary" for Cunard - White Star.
  • Model of Graf Zeppelin for the Science Museum.


  • 1 ½ inch scale "Royal Scot" locomotive for C. N. Rinek of Easton, Pennsylvania.
  • Gauge 0 model railway installed in the Children’s Playroom of the R.M.S. "Queen Mary".


  • Eighth-scale "Awatea" for the Union Steamship Co.
  • Three-eighths-inch-scale model of the yacht "Endeavour" for Mr. T.O.M. Sopwith.
  • One-inch-scale model dual purpose fire engine for Dennis Brothers.
  • 1 ½ inch scale model "Rocket" for the Royal Scottish Museum.
  • Panorama model of the British Merchant Navy for the Paris Exhibition.


  • Exhibition model railway for the four British Groups for the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, Glasgow.
  • One-inch-scale model "Hampton Ferry" train ferry model for S.R.
  • Quarter-inch scale model motor yacht "Philante" for Mr. T.O.M. Sopwith.
  • Centenary model of Euston Station and train of the period 1838 for the L.M.S. Railway Company.
  • Three eighth-inch-scale models of "Dominion Monarch" for the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company.
  • Quarter-inch-scale model coal mine and surface workings for British Mining Association, for the, Glasgow.


  • Six models of “Struthaird” and “Struthmore” for the P&O Steamship Company.
  • 3/16 inch scale model of the new “Mauretania” for Cammell-Laird & Company.
  • 3/16 inch scale model H.M.S. “Hood” for John Brown, Clydebank.


The Bassett-Lowke factory was completely occupied with modelmaking throughout the Second World War.

Thousands of models were supplied to the Services for rapid training of personnel. A considerable proportion of the work was of a highly confidential nature, but amongst the more famous war-time developments first modelled in Northampton were the Ingles Bridge, the Bailey Bridge, the Mulberry Harbour, every type of landing and assault craft, and new types of vehicles, armaments and other equipment.

In the closing stages of the war, permission was given for the company to start supplying models for post-war developments in town planning and re-housing schemes, and, in support of the anticipated export drive, many models of new designs were made for the Rootes Group of car companies.


British industry now faced the problem of returning the country to a peace-time state. Industrial re-building and re-equipment of factories, town planning and re-building schemes, new products for home sale and export required a medium for publicity which could be readily understood by both technical and non-technical people.

During the post-war period special models for this purpose were supplied to:

Anglesey County Council –– D. Budcock (Marine) Ltd. –– Beyer Peacock & Company –– The Blue Star Line –– The Borough of Tynemouth –– The British Electrical Development Association –– The British Gas Association –– The British India Steam Navigation Company –– British Railways –– The British Thomson-Houston Co. –– Henry Browne & Son Ltd. –– John Brown, Clydebank –– The Burntisland Shipping Company –– Cammell Laird & Company –– Camper & Nicholson Ltd. –– The Canadian Commercial Corporation –– The Canadian Pacific Steamship Company –– The Central Office of Information –– Clarke Chapman & Company –– Cohen & Wilks Ltd. –– The Colombo Port Commission –– The Commonwealth of Australia –– The Consett Iron Company Ltd. –– Richard Costaine Ltd. –– Coventry City Council –– Crossley Motors –– Crown Agents for the Colonies –– Cunard - White Star –– Cussons & Sons Ltd. –– William Denny & Brothers, Ltd. –– The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research –– The Design Research Unit –– Dorin & Leach. –– The English Electric Co. Ltd. –– Evans Medical Supplies Ltd. –– F. T. Everard & Company –– The French Line –– General Electric Company (GEC) –– Gillfillan & Company –– The Gloucester Corporation –– Harland & Wolff –– C. R. Harper & Company (Agencies) Ltd. –– William Harvie & Company –– Raymond Hawkins (Lotus Shoes) –– Hawthorn Leslie & Company –– Charles Hill & Company, Bristol –– Kilpatrick & Son Ltd. –– The Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation –– Lewis Berger & Sons Ltd. –– Lobnitz & Company –– The Measham Motor Sales Organisation –– Mechans Ltd. –– The Metropolitan Cammell Carriage & Wagon Company –– The Miners Welfare Commission –– The Ministry of Works –– The Motherwell Bridge Engineering Co. Ltd. –– The New Zealand Shipping Company –– Nottingham University –– Odhams Press Ltd. –– The Oxford Stadium Ltd. –– E. O'Sullivan Ltd. –– The Palliser Works. –– The Peninsular & Oriental Steamship Company (P&O) –– William Pickersgill & Sons Ltd. –– Plymouth Breweries –– The Port of London Authority –– Robert Pringle & Sons –– Richard Johnson & Nephew –– Rootes Securities Ltd. –– The Royal Mail Lines –– Ruston Bucyrus Ltd. –– The Scotch Whisky Association –– Shaw, Savill & Albion Copny Ltd. –– Shelvoke & Drewry –– Thomas Smith & Sons (Rodley) Ltd. –– The South American Saint Line Ltd. –– James Stott Ltd., Oldham. –– Clifford Strange & Associates –– The Superheater Company –– Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson –– The Union Castle Line –– The Van Leer Equipment Company –– Vauxhall Motors Ltd. –– Vickers Armstrong Ltd. –– Walker Bros. (Wigan) Ltd. –– The Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Ltd. –– The Wandsworth & District Gas Company –– Wests Gas Improvement Company .


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