Frank Hornby, the Lines Brothers and Louis Marx where all entrepreneurs who set up toy companies either side of World War 1. Parts of their respective companies where all to be merged together in the 1970's with Hornby providing the name, Lines Brothers the product and Marx providing the finance. Louis Marx had founded his company in 1919 in New York, the company made various tinplate and later plastic toys, including O and HO gauge trains. The company proved very successful becoming the worlds largest toy manufacturers in the 1950's. However failures to use TV advertising and to move into the electronic toys market meant the company lost its predominant position in the 1960's. In 1967 it sold its British Subsidiary to Dunbee-Combex. Whilst in 1972 Louis Marx sold the business to the Quaker Oats company who struggled with the toy business, selling Marx to Dunbee-Combex-Marx in 1976. Started in 1946 by Richard Beecham and Basil Feldman, manufacturing in plastics; in the late 1950s the company wished to expand into toys. In 1960 they acquired Combex, and as Dunbee-Combex went public in 1962. In 1971 Dunbee-Combex-Marx bought Triang Hornby after Lines Brothers went into Receivership. However as the Triang name was sold to another buyer Triang-Hornby needed to be renamed. In 1972 it was rebranded as Hornby Railways

Hornby HST

A Hornby HST

During the 1970's Hornby Railways produced several notable locos including the A4 Pacific, Duchess and the High Speed Train (HST). However, financial problems again set in, with the British Economy in recession toy sales suffered as a result in 1980 Dunbee-Combex-Marx went into receivership.

Hornby was still a going concern and this time a management buyout ensured the continuance of the range. In 1986 Hornby Group plc was floated on the stock market. Changes in BR and new private companies have meant no end of new subject for Hornby to model. The company today is the largest manufacturer of OO Model Railways.

Train Set

A Modern Hornby Train Set





  • 1971 Dunbee-Combex-Marx buy Rovex Ltd
  • 1972 Triang-Hornby rebranded as Hornby Railways
  • 1980 Dunbee-Combex-Mark goes into receivership
  • 1980 Hornby Railways bought out by its managers
  • 1986 Hornby Group plc floated as a public company