Rex Stedman

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index
Jump to navigationJump to search

Reginald Frederick Stephen Stedman (1893-1959), known as Rex Stedman, or R.F. Stedman was one of a list of highly individualistic modelmakers and model engineers that helped shape the UK modelmaking scene in the Twentieth Century.

Stedman founded the Leeds Model Company (LMC).

Origins and aircraft

Stedman trained as a mechanical engineer at Battersea, London, and had fledgeling ventures selling locomotive model plans and model aircraft. In 1912, he won the prestigious Kite and Model Aeroplane Association's Wakefield Gold Cup (sponsored by Sir Charles Wakefield of Castrol Oil), which had started the previous year and been won by none other than E.W. Twining (who went on to found Twining Models). Later that year, Stedman started the Leeds Model Company. With the outbreak of WW1 (1914-1918), Stedman worked as a technician at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough, but managed to keep his new business going through the war years.

In 1934, Stedman flew a two-man glider with a 50-foor wingspan that he'd built himself, which was officially registered in 1935. A member of a local flying club, Stedman also designed a number of other aircraft that remained unbuilt.

Stedman spent WW2 working as Chief Test Pilot at the Blackburn Aircraft Company.

Given Stedman's obvious enthusiasm for aircraft, it may seem odd that he chose to focus commercially on model railways. It may well be that he felt that Twining had a head start on him in the model aircraft field, and that if even Twining couldn't make an aircraft company pay, that perhaps he was safer with model trains (when the Twining Aeroplane Company was unsuccessful, Twining was picked up by Bassett-Lowke, who helped him start Twining Models as an effective offshoot of B-L).

Leeds Model Company

Stedman was with LMC from 1912 to 1932, when a factory fire caused all concerned to reevaluate the future of the company and its viability as a commercial concern. While partners Moore and Simpson decided to continue as "Leeds Models Continued", and then "Leeds Model Company Ltd." Stedman spent the years between 1932 and the outbreak of WW2 in 1939 pursuing other interests, manufacturing home movie cameras and hybrid film image and disk audio playback devices.

After the war anded in 1945, Stedman continued working as a test pilot until 1949, when he returned to the model railway business by co-founding S&B Productions in South Norwood, with a works and a shop.

After Stedman's death in 1959, the manufacturing side of S&B was taken over by GEM (George E. Mellor).

Links and references

Much of this page's information comes from the David Peacock book, which has a lot more detail.