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Beeson, Mills & Evans (RME)


..... This section was most recently updated in September 2020 .....


Beeson's earlier 0 gauge locomotives, including Beeson for Mills and for other firms


Copyright is retained by M.L.Harrison for all text and photos, except for those taken by other owners and enthusiasts.

M.L.Harrison  2020 ©  All rights reserved.






 Illustration B1.  A paper slip which may have come with the catalogue shown below, together with Beeson's change of address label.



J.S.Beeson is generally seen as one of the greatest of the professional model locomotive builders, and the engines he produced are exceptionally well made. His super-detailed models have been illustrated and discussed in depth in various publications, and the locos from his later decades of production have been especially admired. Levy (referenced in full below) refers to Beeson's own view that his work from the 1960s onwards was the most important (p. 193), and the great artistry and engineering skill involved in his fine scale model-making in that period have been widely acknowledged. Locomotives made or rebuilt by Beeson in these later years command very high prices.

Less seems to have been reported systematically in the literature about the earlier (and often relatively more simplified) coarse-scale (or perhaps more correctly 'standard scale') engines that Beeson sold either directly or through other retailers. This is despite the numerical significance of the pre-war and early post-war engines as a part of his total output, and their considerable historical interest. As regards the Beeson locos sold through other firms, Ganderton goes so far as to indicate that in the period between the two world wars the "special and production orders from other companies ... provided the backbone of his income." (cited below, p. 22).  

Given the limitations in what is currently covered in the literature or accessible via the internet, this section of our website shows some examples of earlier and relatively plain Beeson models, made before the 1960s.  Some later or fully-finescale models will also be mentioned, but the central focus will be on the three-rail ones. As quite a few Beeson locos were probably sold through Milbro, some coverage is in any case necessary to enhance our account of Mills products. At the same time, it may be useful to show a group of Beeson's three-rail locos because his output formed such a significant component of the 'top end' of model loco production during the decades that are of most interest for this website. Certainly, his locos featured many times in the model railway press over a long period, and a tank engine made by Beeson for G.P. Keen can be seen in the very first issue of the Model Railway News, in 1925, where the maker was referred to as "Mr. Beeson, Junr." (1, 1, January, p. 5).

In effect, Beeson's 3-rail locos (including those sold under the names of other firms) can help exemplify ongoing and developing best practice within the commercial constraints and customer expectations of the vintage 0 gauge period; when 3-rail coarse-scale running was widespread, when detailing remained modest on most models, and when precise "accuracy to prototype" carried less importance than in subsequent decades. There were certainly some highly-detailed and very exceptional locos made by Beeson before the war. For example, Ganderton shows an LMS Princess for Bassett-Lowke and an LMS Compound (although that loco had been updated later) ; see Ganderton, pp. 106-107, 114-115. Yet many of his three-rail engines were much simpler. Viewed in their historical context these plainer models remain outstanding for their quality, even though they lack rivet detail or other refinements expected in later years. Pre-war and early post-war models may also provide indicators of the impact commercial pressures had in generating simplifications in the representation of features from full-sized prototypes. For instance, an engine might be sold without any detailed backhead, or with a highly simplified one to meet a cost specification (see example below for R.M.Evans). Going further, some customers might even want models that were 'free-lance' designs, and a builder might be asked to provide them. In writing to The Model Railway News in 1926, Beeson mentioned and illustrated a loco of this kind, alongside two neat but plain-looking engines of more recognisable types (J.S.Beeson,"Three '0' Gauge Locos", letter, 2, 14, February, pp. 55-56). The letter is reproduced below in three parts, and it contains interesting indications of the maker's practices at that time.





  Illustrations B2a, B2b and B2c.  A letter from Beeson published in The Model Railway News in February 1926. The locos shown are fairly plain, and one is to a free-lance design. Mention is made of the use of tinplate for boilers and other super-structure, of chimneys and boiler mountings "turned from solid brass", and of the use of "Half-round wire" for beading, etc.

Through the pre-war years Beeson advertised frequently in the model railway press, and when doing so included quite a few pictures of his locomotives. The models generally look really excellent and very well detailed when compared with what was generally available in the period. Understandably, the majority of Beeson's locos shown in these years were probably for three-rail, did not have much (or any) rivet detail, and were not for finescale running. Some of his advertisements were themselves impressive in presentation terms. I would guess that the LNER pacific portrait below must have seemed particularly striking when it appeared in 1932.



Illustration B2d. Beeson's advertisement in The Model Railway News for November 1932; 8, 95, page v.



Illustration B2e  This is another advertisement that I think must have impressed, with its image of a highly attractive model. Even a 'modified' version was £35. One of this class of Beeson engines came to auction in December 2008, but was withdrawn before the day of the sale. Perhaps it was sold privately for a high price, or retained for family reasons. The 2008 sale catalogue illustration showed what looked like a superb model, in black LMS livery. I understand that another 'crab' like that one (although in maroon) was also reported (with images) some years ago, having been expertly improved by its then owner before being sold. I doubt if the one shown in the above advertisement had any representation of rivet detail.

This advertisement appeared in The Model Railway News, April 1934, 10, 112, p. iii.


There seems to be little substantial documentation about the shift Beeson made in his overall production towards two-rail fine-scale super-detailed modelling, other than through accounts of specific locos and their histories. Some published general statements about what was done rely heavily on memories of events or conversations, or later reflections about early practices and dates. Nonetheless, it seems reasonable to say that Beeson's output may well have been quite mixed from the late 1930s up into the 1950s, with some highly detailed models being made to two-rail standards alongside other sales and commissions for more traditional products. It is clear, however, that by the time a review of two of his locos appeared in the Railway Modeller in October 1960, Beeson was working at a very high level in terms of accuracy to prototype when building models to order for direct sale to customers (see 11, 120, page 247, with pictures of a GWR prairie tank and a BR standard tank). The reviewer mentions rim insulation and flanges on all driving wheels, and notes that the bodies were made entirely of nickel silver. At the same time, however, the maker might well still have been ready to work to different standards when fulfilling commissions for commercial retailers.    

Beeson also had an additional impact through supplying high quality fittings and components. We include a few pictures below of Beeson loco name and number plates and parts, as reminders of the quality of what was available for other builders. Through the help of a knowledgeable enthusiast for Beeson's work, we are also able to illustrate briefly one of Beeson's wagons and a very rare set of coach bogies. There is then some comment on Beeson's contributions through supplying major loco parts, undertaking painting work, etc.

I should add that I do not have any specialist knowledge or expertise in relation to Beeson's model-making, and am very grateful for the helpful advice I have received about his locomotives from time to time, especially from several valued informants with extensive experience of restoration, repair or building work in the vintage trains field. Collectors and dealers sometimes may be rather partisan about 0 gauge vintage trains in one way or another, but I have frequently found restorers and engineers rather less so.


Some useful publications (readers interested in Beeson will probably already know all these):


Illustration B3.  Beeson's catalogue is widely known. It contains selective illustrations and an account of what was available (or going to be available) at the time of its publication. Beeson advertised it in The Model Railway News in May 1933 (9, 101, page v); Ganderton puts publication a year earlier (cited below, p. 23). It is not too difficult to find a copy.


Amongst other useful publications are those below. Coverage on websites has generally been very limited, and that is one reason for offering something on this site about the earlier engines.

Ellis, Hamilton, "Model Railways; 1838-1939", Allen & Unwin, London, 1962. [Has some very good photographs opposite page 96 and following page 104.]

Ganderton, R.A., "James Stanley Beeson 1906-1990", Faculty Publishing, Poole, 1999.  [The largest publication, with many fine photographs.]  

Harrison,T.S., "Four Gauge 'O' Locomotives", The Model Railway Constructor, November 1945, 12, 140. page 169.  [Interesting description and pictures of Beeson engines commissioned by the author.]

Levy, A., "A Century of Model Trains", New Cavendish Books, London, third impression, 1978, pp. 193-206.  [A very valuable chapter.]  

Levy, A. (ed.), "The Trains on Avenue de Rumine", New Cavendish Books, London, 1982, pp. 170-173.  [Contains a short J.S. Beeson section presenting four locos that are "mainly from the middle post-war period", 1950-1965; together with pictures of two of these engines hauling Exley coaches.]                   

Model Railway Constructor, "Beeson Model Locomotives at Work - 1", 46, 537, January 1979, pp. 20-21; "Beeson Locomotives at Work - 2", 46, 538, February 1979, pp. 84-85; "Beeson Locomotives at Work - 3", 46, 539, March 1979, pp. 138-141.  [Useful illustrations from a large fine-scale layout.]

Model Railway News, "The work of a perfectionist; An '0' Gauge Model of L.M.S.R 'Duchess of Montrose' ", 33, 391, July 1957, p. 168.  [Three good illustrations of a top quality Beeson model, including the complex cab detail. Page 167 of the same issue features a photograph of a model of LNER Pacific 2573; a loco by another maker that had been rebuilt by Beeson as a commission from Exley.] 

Stewart Law, E., "New Locos for an L.M.S. 'O' Gauge Line", The Model Railway News, July 1933, 9, 103, pages 184-185.  [Four good examples of Beeson engines commissioned for a specific three-rail layout that would have been of high status in the coarse/standard-scale era.]


Characteristics and features of the earlier 0 gauge locomotives

Beeson locomotives were made over a long time period, were sold through a variety of outlets, and were commissioned against the backcloth of changing commercial environments and developing customer preferences. Bearing these factors in mind, as well as Beeson's considerable capacity for innovation and adaptation, it might be difficult to be certain today about continuities and uniformities in his specific detailed construction and design practices. This note of caution takes on added weight when one considers the very large numbers of engines Beeson is thought to have produced in the coarse-scale era. Dozens of models would probably be needed as an adequate sample to confirm some of his practices accurately and with certainty.

Nonetheless, it is generally expected that the 'build quality' found in Beeson models will be outstandingly good, and that the motion, fittings, paintwork and lining will usually be superb. It is also known that the materials used for body-work changed over time. I am informed that loco and tender bodies were generally made of tinplate in the earlier years, then of tinplate or of tinplate and nickel silver, and subsequently of nickel silver alone. The shift towards nickel silver was a factor that also affected other model railway engine producers from the late 1930s onwards. As far as materials used for the most important fittings are concerned, I understand it is unusual to encounter soft metal employed for major components such as chimneys, cylinders or a dome on a Beeson engine, although this can happen (and a relevant example appears below from the cheaper of his pre-war ranges). It would be expected that key items generally would be of brass, but cylinders on locos may incorporate or be made of tinplate (or nickel). These comments do not necessarily apply to items such as axle box covers.

Additionally, there are a couple of specific pointers touched on in Ganderton's book, that might sometimes help an initial identification of a possible Beeson model from the three-rail years. Ganderton notes the characteristic style generally adopted by Beeson for engine-to-tender connections when the motor was in the loco (see Ganderton, cited above, p. 22, and the illustration there of 'Sir Menaduke'), although the exact form this took in the pre-1960s models seems to have varied a little.  Also, some Beeson locos have small neat wires or pins through the crank pins to hold the coupling rods on. Ganderton notes this on a 1930s GER 2-4-0 featured at pages 120-121 in his book. He writes, "The coupling rods are fluted and the crank pins have cotter pins fitted to retain the rods in place" (p. 120). Of course, the wires through the crank pins might sometimes have been removed from Beeson engines during conversion to two-rail and finer scale running, and perhaps there were periods when they were not used by the maker anyway. The literature provides only slim information. It is worth adding, however, that as far as I can tell this method of holding the coupling rods only appears relatively rarely on locos by other makers from the vintage years (for the use of split pins in this context see our section on Milbro locomotives).

I have been told that hand rails were commonly held in place by split pins on Beeson locos, rather than by shaped hand-rail knobs, although this probably applied more particularly in Beeson's pre-war and earlier post-war decades. A similar approach may be found on Milbro locos (although for these there may have been some tendency to fix the handrails in a little closer to the loco body). Several years ago I was also advised that an additional point about loco recognition is that Beeson's marking-out lines can sometimes be seen here and there beneath his paintwork. In some instances I have found quite a few such markings on a Beeson loco from the 3-rail years, and only a minority of items seem to have none at all.

Many of the earlier Beeson models do not have any representation of rivet detail, or perhaps only have a limited amount. It seems to be generally understood, however, that when rivets are represented by Beeson they usually look beautifully neat. Ganderton discusses Beeson's approach to this, and gives an excellent account of Beeson's rivet embossing tool, and of how it was used to achieve very accurate results (see pages 72 and 74). It does not seem clear, however, when Beeson started to use this embossing tool. I am not at all expert on the histories here, but as far as I can tell there is relatively little evidence at all in the pre-war advertising to suggest any preoccupation in those years with reproducing rivet detail. No doubt Beeson would provide it in the earlier periods if requested, and would have charged a substantial extra sum for doing it. On the other hand, reports about specific locos (apparently based on recollections as well as provenances) do indicate that some superb Beeson models were built in the later 1930s with very extensive reproductions of rivets. If that is correct (which it seems to be), then presumably he will have been using the device or something similar at that time. It seems that Beeson claimed in mid-1950s advertising that he had been using his rivet tool in his own modelling work for twenty years. This was in the context, however, of making an offer to sell customers a rivet embossing tool like his own. In the absence of more evidence, it seems most probable that Beeson began to deploy his rivet embossing techniques systematically on his more expensive commissions some time in the second half of the 1930s, most likely towards the end of the decade rather than sooner.

This leaves open the possibility that a few 1920s/1930s Beeson models that have rivets today did not have them when made. It also points to a possible contrast with Bernard Miller's practices in the pre-war years. Miller seems to have been trying to incorporate some rivet detail a good bit earlier, and indeed at one point offered rivetted smokebox wrappers as a means for enthusiasts to upgrade their own models. In our section about Miller and Miller Swan, we tentatively suggest that Miller nonetheless compromised on many of his pre-war models by representing rivets in the smokebox area but not necessarily everywhere else. He also seems to have made some models in his earliest period without representing rivets.  

Identification of UK vintage loco models in some cases can be very difficult, and in the case of potential Beeson models there are complicating factors. These include his involvement in supplying parts and fittings for other makers, the modifications, additions and refurbishments made to his earlier models in later periods, and attempts by other builders to follow in his path. There has also been some repainting of his models. We touch upon these issues later. As well as the engines that Beeson built and sold, there are certainly other models where (directly or indirectly) he could be said to have had a hand or influence in their production. 


A few illustrations of Beeson's work  (most of the locos shown are 3-rail models, or were originally for 3-rail when built)




Illustrations B4a and B4b.   A 3-rail LMS 2-6-4 Stanier tank loco by Beeson. I understand that this loco is made primarily of tinplate. It was repaired and repainted by the highly-regarded restorer Simon Greenwood, in 2007. Further pictures of this model are shown below in Illustrations B12a and B12b, and its mechanism appears in Illustrations B18e and B18f.

Apparently the first ten (full-sized) engines of this class were built by the LMS with straight sides to their coal bunker tops, as on this model (see Haresnape, B., "Stanier Locomotives; a pictorial history", Ian Allan, London, 1981 edition, pp. 52-53).



Illustrations B5a and B5b.   Many thanks to the owner of these two locos for making these portraits available for this site. The Royal Scot 4-6-0 shown here is a Beeson three-rail model that was made in 'war-time' black. It has not been altered by the adding of detail (which has sometimes happened with the earlier locos), but has been repainted expertly. The illustration usefully shows the engine-to-tender connection (cf the picture of a Beeson for Mills Jubilee shown below). I am informed that the LMS 'Jinty' tank was initially built for 3-rail by Beeson, and then converted by him for 2-rail running in the 1940s. The chassis was also subsequently rebuilt by the maker.



Illustrations B6a and B6b.   Beeson Great Eastern Railway 0-4-4 S44 Class tank loco (LNER G4).

  Although the surface of the paintwork on the sides of this engine has deteriorated badly, and the GER lettering has been eroded, the model nonetheless has quite a lot in common with two Beeson Great Eastern locos shown in Ganderton's book (cited above) and built in the 1930s. Page 14 of that book shows a 2-4-2 tank, and page 120 shows a tinplate 2-4-0 tender loco. One of these was apparently converted to fine scale, and the other also appears to have been set up for fine-scale two-rail running. They appear in excellent condition, albeit perhaps relatively plain-looking locos (see caption for the 2-4-0 on page 120). Whereas the G4 is in plain black, both those in the book seem to be in GE dark blue livery, with black-painted smokeboxes and cream or white cab roofs. As far as I can tell from internet sources, this seems correct to prototype, so I am not sure why the 0-4-4 above is all in black. Its paint looks original, so the livery may have been requested when the loco was commissioned, or perhaps just the roof was changed from a lighter colour at some stage. One option now would be to have it part-repainted and re-lettered 

This 0-4-4 tank loco is believed to be by Beeson for Evans (see sub-section below on R.M.Evans for fuller comment and more photos). It was built for three-rail running but converted later to two-rail and given a new mechanism, wheels, etc. I am not sure whether the bogie is original or a later one.

When acquired the engine had lost some of its small fittings near the front, possibly partly because a large weight had been inserted into the smokebox and the front of the boiler. Perhaps one reason for putting the weight there was to help balance the engine on the track, at the time when the original mechanism and wheels were being replaced with more modern and lighter items.  Alan Crompton - a highly skilled restorer - created some new parts to replace those that had been lost, so nothing is now missing!  In my view this loco is an excellent example of a small engine from the 'top end' of commercial 3-rail model-making in the late 1930s/1940s. 






Illustrations B7a-B7d.  These photographs offer some illustration of Beeson's painting, lining and lettering, demonstrating his mastery in the creation of artwork. The loco is a tinplate Caledonian 4-4-0 tender engine that was originally a three-rail model. One of its previous owners had it rebuilt and re-wheeled for two-rail fine-scale running and given a modern motor, this work apparently being undertaken in the mid-nineties by Brian Broumpton. It seems that amongst its earlier owners had been the well-known enthusiast, modeller and expert Vic Reader. The model came up for auction on Ebay in 2014.

There has been some very minor damage or alteration to metal framing below the main bodywork, and some low quality renovation of small patches where paintwork previously had been eroded. The paint thus needs tidying here and there. The loco would also benefit from some nicer wheels. These things apart, it seems generally to be in excellent condition.  Although the owner who had it rebuilt apparently had been told it was a very early Beeson model, it is harder to date the engine now because the original mechanism and wheels have been removed. My guess, however, is that it may well have been made before the second world war. There is substantial metalwork inside the cab, designed to 'box in' the original motor, and perhaps this might fit with the model being from the pre-war years (and possibly even an item commissioned through one of Beeson's commercial customers such as Milbro).  A small point of interest is the use that Beeson made on this loco of some relatively modest 'standard' fittings to represent washout plugs, just as he did on the first of the Claud Hamilton locos that are shown later below. 

  Ganderton's book (cited above) contains many illustrations of locomotives with beautiful paintwork and lining.









Illustrations B7e-B7j.  Continuing the theme of Caledonian paintwork and lining, these pictures show an unusual model that I think (albeit provisionally) is also by Beeson. The loco was converted by a previous owner from 3-rail to 2-rail running, and was given modern number plates that I am informed are truer-to-prototype.  The original plates are shown above along with the (removed) outside-third pickup, which is clearly professionally made.  I have so far been unable to discuss this model with my expert contacts/advisors, due to the impact of restrictions associated with the virus. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the detailing is exceptional for a three-rail engine, while the paintwork, lining, lettering and crest conform closely with those on the 4-4-0 shown above (and as far as I can tell with what appears in Ganderton's book).  The red panel on the front buffer beam looks as if it has been repainted (perhaps because the loco's number has been changed), but not much else has been altered externally apart from the wheels, crank pins and number plates. The loco has been given a modern can motor. I cannot at present guess the age of the model, although deterioration of the surface of one of its works plates (on the side of the smokebox) indicates it has had use over a longish period. Two minor fittings are missing, but could be replaced readily.


Quite a few of Beeson's earlier models have been professionally altered or 'rejuvenated' very successfully in later years. Sometimes this was by the maker himself, but other skilled modellers have also played a part. The GWR 4-4-0 loco below looks to have been made by Beeson in the 1930s, but seems subsequently to have undergone several changes, perhaps at different times. It has been converted for two-rail running, been given Beeson cab detail that it might not necessarily have had when made, has had some modest 'internal detail' added, has had one of its backhead fittings replaced with a modern casting, and has been repainted (together with its tender) by a top-rank painter. Most recently, some minor repairs and improvements were carried out by a master restorer (including the repainting of the front buffer beam). This model was one of two Beeson GWR engines that came up together at auction, and had been given similar treatment. The other was an Aberdare 2-6-0, also made of tinplate, converted for finescale two-rail running, and repainted.




(Since the above photograph was taken, some small repairs have been commissioned here; see extra photo below.)




Illustrations B8a-B8e.  This GWR 4-4-0 is a very well-made tinplate loco that started out as a 3-rail model, but was converted later for two-rail finescale running (perhaps by its then owner). The driving wheels on one side of the engine have been altered and given modern plunger pickups near their rims. The loco has wires/pins through the crank-pins, split pins to hold the handrails, a Beeson-style engine-to-tender connection, attractive fittings, an excellent backhead, and some neat marking out lines under its paint. When I first encountered this model, the wires through the crank-pins seemed to be longer replacements for what would have been neater originals. This change had most likely resulted from removing Beeson's pins in order to take off the wheels for alteration. Since then, an expert restorer has tidied them up. It can be seen that a section of metal platework 'drops down' from the boiler behind the front splasher. Perhaps this may have been to conceal a more traditional type of motor unit than the can motor the engine now has, and - taken in conjunction with the tinplate bodywork and the limited representation of rivet detail - it confirms the likely age of the model.  For more comment on changes made during this engine's history, see our text immediately above the photographs.

Expert advice on paintwork has suggested that this loco and the Aberdare 2-6-0 discussed below were both repainted at some point in the relatively recent past by the well-known and highly respected painter Alan Brackenborough.



Illustration B8f.  This is a second picture of the cab detail on the model shown immediately above. Since the other picture was taken, one of the cab roof corners has been straightened where it had been very slightly bent, and the original lever/handle has been fixed back at the bottom of the picture.



 Illustration B8h.  Backhead detailing from another GWR loco - an Aberdare - that is also attributed to Beeson. This tinplate model came from the same collection as the 4-4-0 GWR engine above, and (like that 4-4-0) had been through several changes over the years.

The fall plate and wooden flooring in the cab may be relatively late additions, perhaps by or for the then owner. The seats in the cab move.


 Illustration B8i.  An external view of the cab of this engine, giving a reminder of how much Beeson's GWR number plates could improve the look of an 0 gauge model.



Illustration B8j.  The tender from the tinplate 'Aberdare' 2-6-0 loco (which has been refurbished and updated by conversion to 2-rail finescale running). The tender lettering has been repainted superbly by hand, and I have been advised that the paintwork (and the boiler bands on the loco) can be attributed to the master craftsman Alan Brackenborough (who is widely respected in UK railway modelling).

The model is being restored, and I cannot currently obtain a picture of the full engine.





Illustrations B9a and B9b.   Many thanks to the owner of this superb LMS pacific for letting me show these photographs. I understand that the loco was one of a batch made in 1936, and later belonged to a famous international model railway collection. It was a 3-rail model, but was later converted to two-rail (apparently by Beeson himself), after it had been purchased by an enthusiast in the UK. The picture of the cab interior illustrates the impressive detailing that Beeson created on his most expensive engines, while extensive rivet work can be seen in the first image.





Illustrations B9c and B9d.  Thanks also to the enthusiast who has sent me these pictures. I understand that this model of a GWR prairie tank was built as a two-rail loco in the finescale era. It thus lies in a slightly different category from the models shown so far. The loco is a very handsome example of Beeson's work, and his mastery in creating rivet detail can be seen immediately.

Quite a few 0 gauge enthusiasts have run or collected models made for 3-rail along with others set up for 2-rail. In the first picture here the loco stands amongst 3-rail track, and alongside a vintage engine shed.



Illustration B10a.   Beeson LMS Fowler 0 gauge 2-6-4 tank, fitted with a 3-rail 'Dalite' electric chassis, perhaps made in the early 1930s for the E. Stewart Law layout. This tinplate loco would have been regarded as a 'super detail' rather than 'cheaper model' when made. It is compared briefly with a less expensive Beeson model from the same locomotive class in a later part of this website section. Photographs of the mechanism are shown below in Illustrations B17a and B17b. The loco is in good condition, although the numbers and letters have been repainted and some brake parts have been lost below the body.

A Beeson Fowler tank model very like this one appeared in The Model Railway News in July 1933. It was shown with three other Beeson engines for an article about the LMS O gauge railway of E. Stewart Law, who felt it was a delightful model (9, 103, pages 184-185). The article's photographs are reproduced below, although unfortunately neither the magazine's originals nor my reproductions are of good enough quality to provide very full information. It seems likely that the loco pictured above is the one included in that article, albeit with subsequently repainted numerals and lettering (and without all its original brake gear). Certainly, there are very close similarities on distinctive modelling features. What looks like a wire to operate Beeson's reversing switch can be seen passing through the cab in the 1933 photograph shown immediately below, and this matches the wire seen in our illustration later of the mechanism from 2300 (see B17a). The sand box seen between the centre and rear driving wheels on Law's model appears to be secured by a large and very visible bolt of the kind that has been used (rather crudely) on the loco shown above. The washout plug detailing seen above (which is very slightly irregular on the visible side) matches that on the magazine photo, the smokebox front/door is simplified rather than prototypical both on our model and the magazine image, and the point below the body where the rear centre-rail pickup meets the track seems exactly the same for both engines. At the very least, if our example is not the engine in the 1933 illustration, then the two models almost certainly will have been made as part of the same batch and in the same period.  If anyone knows more about the Stewart Law Beeson LMS Fowler tank I would be glad to hear from them.



Illustration B10b.  Fowler loco made for E. Stewart Law, as presented in the July 1933 Model Railway News. This was a commissioned model supplied by Beeson in 1932/1933. The photograph we have tried to reproduce here is now more than eighty years old and has deteriorated a little, but in any case the original photography, lighting or printing seems to have distorted the appearance of the cab roof (generating an illusion of extra 'rain strips' that the full-sized locos did not have). It is not easy to see exactly what fittings there may have been on the footplate above the cylinder, but there appears to be no lubricator (and the same seems the case on Stewart Law's compound and Scot shown below). These issues apart, there is an extremely close match between this model and the one shown above at B10a, although the numbers and letters were repainted at some stage on the latter.

My copy of Beeson's catalogue includes "lubricator boxes and pipes" amongst the details offered for super-detail locos, although not amongst his list of fittings for purchase (see pages 2 and 11). Most likely they were not yet considered standard when the locos illustrated in the magazine were being commissioned, but Beeson would clearly have been able to offer to fit them later for customers who had previously purchased models from him, although I have no information on this.

It is conceivable that the loco shown here in the magazine picture had been painted for Stewart Law in crimson lake (maroon) livery, but it does not seem all that likely as there is no obvious sign of the lining applied to the full-sized engines with that finish (see picture of 2300 at page 15 in Haresnape, B., 'Railway Liveries: London Midland & Scottish Railway', Ian Allen, London, 1983). It seems also that the owner had previously run a super-detail Bassett-Lowke model of a similar loco (2311), and that had been black.


Stewart Law's railway ran on Bassett-Lowke "Popular scale permanent way" at 12  volts, and used three-rail track with a centre rail (see his article, "A Gauge 'O' LMS Electric Model Railway", in The Model Railway News of May 1932; 8, 89, pages 115-120). His 1933 article indicates that the Beeson Royal Scot class model shown in our reproduced picture below could travel at speed round a 3 foot radius curve (page 184). It is consistent with the type of railway this was that the Fowler tank would have been commissioned with flangeless centre drivers (like those on the model in Illustration B10a).      

Ganderton's coverage of Beeson presents a superbly-illustrated review of a fine LMS compound loco linked in the book to the same Stewart Law model railway (see Ganderton, cited above, at pages 114-115). That super-detailed compound - Number 1187 - bears the same number as the one in the 1933 Model Railway News article (see illustration below). Comparing the MRN illustration of LMS 4-4-0 1187 with Ganderton's photographs suggests significant differences; even though that model was apparently returned to Beeson in the 1960s to be "upgraded to fine scale" (page 115). Many Beeson engines have been modified over the decades since they were made, and we might expect to find examples of enhanced detailing and renewed paintwork as well as conversion to two-rail fine-scale running. This should not obscure the fact that earlier models were often relatively plain, even though beautifully made (and prestigious for their period). Beeson's catalogue indicates that the absence of rivet detail had been at that point the norm, since as far as I can tell from the pictures there were no visible rivets on most of the engines he used therein for illustration purposes.



Illustration B10c.  Stewart Law's Beeson Scot. He noted it had "scale size bogie wheels", but would travel at speed around a three foot radius curve. He felt this was "a great achievement by Mr. Beeson", a very reasonable comment in the model railway context of the period.



Illustration B10d.   The magazine's picture of No.1187 captured poorly the appearance of the chimney (perhaps as an effect of the lighting), and I think my reproduction unfortunately has made it look even worse!  This model looks different in the magazine picture from one shown in the book about Beeson by Ganderton (see further comment below). The book reports that Beeson converted the above engine in the post-war years for fine-scale running, but very considerable enhancement of the detail would have been necessary to make it look like the Ganderton loco. It is hard to know exactly what the loco was originally like from this magazine photograph alone, but the probable absence of Beeson's beautiful lubricator fittings matches the situation on the Fowler 2-6-4 tank picture discussed above. We cannot say what (if any) rivet details there were when this compound was made, or what fittings there might have been inside the cab (see further discussion below).  



Illustration B10e.  Stewart Law's impressive jinty tank loco. No. 16564 was "low geared for shunting". I hope to make a better version of this reproduction when time allows, as it has slightly distorted the loco's front end.


Illustration B10f.  I am grateful to the owner of this model for sending me some pictures of it.  I do not know if this beautiful LMS 0-6-0 tank carried the BR livery when made, but in any event it provides a good updated version to set alongside the early 1930s three-rail one shown immediately above. No. 47671 has substantial rivet detail and a modern 'look', but quite a lot in common with the Stewart Law model, and a mechanism that seems to have its design origins in the pre-war era (see below).



 Illustrations B10g and B10h.  The mechanism and the cab area detail. The pin going through the crank pin can be seen in the lower picture here.

We show some more images of this mechanism later, as Illustrations B18b-B18d.

As we noted above, Ganderton's coverage of Beeson presents a superbly-illustrated review of a fine LMS compound loco linked in the book to the same Stewart Law model railway that we have been discussing here (see Ganderton, cited above, at pages 114-115). That super-detailed 4-4-0 - Number 1187 - bears the same number as the one in the 1933 Model Railway News article. Comparing the MRN illustration of LMS 4-4-0 1187 with Ganderton's photographs, however, suggests significant differences. This is so even if allowing for the fact that the model was apparently returned to Beeson in the 1960s to be "upgraded to fine scale" (page 115). On the other hand, a Beeson compound shown in a 1945 article (and also numbered 1187) seems to be very much more like the one shown in the book, and I think it likely the Ganderton images are of this later compound rather than the 1932/1933 one. Four engines running to finescale two-rail standards were described in this piece by T. Stanley Harrison, and three of the illustrations are included below along with his comments. (We have left out the standard 0-6-0 tank, as others are included already in our illustrations.) I am very grateful to Jonathan Lewis for alerting me to this journal piece.






Illustrations B10i-B10l.  Although our reproduction of these photos is not by any means perfect, the picture of this model of 1187 nonetheless shows clearly that the super-detailing by this period could include complex rivet detail.  There is naturally quite a contrast with older engines from the early 1930s (including the other compound pictured earlier). Many thanks to Jonathan Lewis for his help on this article.  See The Model Railway Constructor, November 1945, 12, 140, page 169.


Rolling stock, etc.

As well as making locomotives, Beeson is known to have produced a small number of very fine wagons. He also advertised wagon bodies for sale early in his career as a model-maker, but I cannot tell whether these were made by him or simply sold by him as a retailer, and I have not so far seen any pictures of them.


Illustration B10m.  An advertisement from 1930, including an offer of hand-made wooden wagon bodies for gauge 0  (see The Model Railway News, December 1930, 6, 72, p. vi). The availability of a variety of mechanisms is also a useful indicator of Beeson's output and versatility (and we refer to mechanisms at more length later).

As far as complete models are concerned, Ganderton reports that before World War Two (probably in the late 1930s) Beeson made six 7mm LNER bogie ballast wagons, three twelve-wheeled bogie well wagons, and one sulphate vehicle (for discussion and photographs see Ganderton, cited above, pages 162-165). An enthusiast has let me have photos of an impressive sulphate wagon that matches very closely the one featured by Ganderton, and it seems that three of these wagons were in fact made (with successive numbers). The same person has also sent me pictures of very rare Beeson coach bogies (or bogies supplied by Beeson) fitted to an Exley coach (see below; also Ganderton, page 163).  



Illustrations  B11a and B11b.  I am grateful to the owner of this very high quality Beeson wagon for letting me show pictures of it here. I understand that very few freight vehicles were made by this builder (see discussion above). 




Illustrations B11c and B11d.  I would like to thank the enthusiast who took these photos for letting me show them here. The Exley coach seen in the lower of the two pictures has bogies that were supplied by Beeson (and may most likely have been made by him), and the underside of one of these bogies is seen in the other image. I am informed that five Exley coaches were fitted with these bogies (and their current location is known), but that no other coaches have so far been reported with them.


Beeson also supplied a variety of high quality locomotive and tender fittings and parts for the use of other builders, and these items are still valued today by enthusiasts and collectors. His sets of name and number plates turn up from time to time in small packets, as illustrated immediately below. I have had these for gauges 0, 00, and One, and from what I have seen the range produced for Gauge 0 seems to have been very extensive. As is illustrated in the second and third pictures below, larger and more unusual plates were also made, perhaps to meet specific orders, and he also produced his own James S.Beeson works plates (see Illustrations B10c, B11a and B12a below). I cannot say when these pink/red packets were first produced (although most of those that I have had came previously from a modeller who built locos in the post-war years rather than earlier). In any event, the plates inserted into these packets may well themselves have been produced over a long period, dating back into the pre-war years (when they were referred to in his catalogue), and forward into the 1960s. One set offered in 00 gauge was for the last steam locomotive completed for British Railways, 'Evening Star' (which had its naming ceremony in 1960).         


  Illustration B11e.  Loco and tender numbers, nameplates, company works plates, etc., as supplied in transparent packets. The items were fixed to a piece of card, and details were written in on the back. The front and rear of unused cards are shown at the bottom right of the photo.  




BeesonPlates12 001.REVjpg

(For comments on the name Cosmo Bonsor, see below.)



 Illustrations B11f-B11h.  The first two photos show examples of partly-cut-out Beeson plates, including some very large scale ones (see the ruler for dimensions). Varieties of numbers and names of differing types and sizes were produced on rectangular brass sheets, and it must have been hard work to cut out the items. I have never seen any other plates like these large ones, so they are probably quite rare, although there may be some serious Beeson collectors with more of this kind of material. The third picture includes one of Beeson's own works plates. The nameplates above it are for gauge 0, so readers can see how small the maker's own plate is. I have no expert knowledge of Beeson's practices or his models, but I suspect that these works plates were used in the late 1930s and/or the early post-war decades. Perhaps a possible date for the supply of the partly-cut items shown here might be in the period between 1935 and the early 1950s.

I have been informed that Sir Henry Cosmo Orme Bonsor was a prominent figure whose connections included the SECR. A model loco was apparently named after him and hauled passengers at exhibitions. Many thanks to William Whitehead for historical knowledge on this.

The next two pictures illustrate  details on a Beeson model that carries a pair of these small Beeson works plates. This is the Stanier LMS 2-6-4 tank shown earlier. I have been informed that it is unfortunately rare to find direct identification of this kind on Beeson's 3-rail models. In the absence of any specific evidence about the commissioning or initial ownership of this tinplate engine, a reasonable guess might be that the loco was built in the late 1930s, but it may have been made in the 1940s or possibly in the 1950s.



Illustrations B12a and B12b.   Picture B12a shows one of the two Beeson works plates on the Stanier tank, and B11b highlights some attractive detailing at the front end. This is the loco shown above in Illustrations B4a and B4b.    


The small plates visible above (which were clearly designed to look like those of a full-sized railway company) can be contrasted with the perhaps better-known type shown in the next picture. The large rectangular plate seen there is on the underside of a Caledonian 0-6-0 loco belonging to a Beeson enthusiast and collector. I understand this fine model dates from around 1958/1960. 



  Illustrations B12c and B12d.  Many thanks to the owner of this model for providing a photograph of one of Beeson's larger works plates. I do not know if this more 'formal' and visible style of labelling came into use after the smaller type shown above, but perhaps it did. The owner has also provided a portrait of the beautiful loco which has this works plate.



 Illustration B12e.  The same person also passed me this excellent picture of a Beeson backhead, illustrating an aspect of this maker's work on details that was widely admired.


 Beeson's impact on other people's locos went beyond him providing number plates, fittings, or wheels. Body parts could be supplied, and Beeson might also do work on the engines built by other makers. Fuller comment on this is included in the next sub-section below.


Use of Beeson loco parts by other makers, rebuilding of engines, collaborations, repainting, copies, etc.

As noted earlier, identification of UK vintage locos can be difficult, and there are several complicating issues worth mentioning in relation to potential Beeson models in particular. First, he could supply parts and fittings for other makers, and this means that a loco may be found today that includes body components that came from him, even though the specific model may not reach his standards of neatness and precision. A few such locos may even have his marking out lines on them. It seems that Beeson sometimes supplied major components, or even perhaps all the tinplate or nickel silver body sections to build a loco and/or a tender. A few years ago a full 'kit' of parts for what was presented as a specific Beeson loco was auctioned on Ebay. Some incomplete Beeson engines have also been finished by highly skilled modellers interested in his heritage.

A second factor is that in later periods modifications, additions and refurbishments have been made to many of Beeson's earlier models. The work has often included conversion from three-rail to two-rail running and to finescale standards. Examples are included in our illustrations. Some locos were updated and enhanced by Beeson himself, and several of these are very highly regarded today, but other contractors and individual enthusiasts have also altered some of his earlier engines. The standard of work may vary (although I have only seen a very limited sample), and this might complicate an evaluation, especially if the work is below the quality of the original model.

A third issue is that a few other makers have followed Beeson's path, and very occasionally a loco might be found that is very close to what he might have produced, though not made by him. Some time ago I saw a collection of very attractive 1960s handbuilt finescale engines that even incorporated Beeson-style engine-to-tender connections very like his. The collection was being handled by the Gauge 0 Guild's excellent Executor and Trustee Service. The owner had also apparently acquired one or more Beeson engines for his collecton, so an appraisal must have been demanding to do.

There has also been some repainting of his models. Where this has been done to a very high standard, it will have enhanced the loco's merits from the point of view of the owner (although some vintage train enthusiasts tend to oppose a repaint unless the existing paint is 'irretrievable'). Where the work has been carried out by a master painter, the results of repainting on a faded and ageing loco can be stunning (note the Aberdare tender shown earlier).

Finally, Beeson contributed directly to engines built by other people. In addition to providing plates, he could also improve engines or repaint them. His 1930s catalogue offered painting, lining, and/or lettering for locomotives owned by customers, although the work was not cheap.

In conclusion, we can perhaps say that along with the many engines Beeson built and sold, there are certainly other models where (directly or indirectly) he could be said to have had a hand or influence in their production. Furthermore, changes made to models over time may complicate judgements about their origins.  

  Hinch.NEW attemptAbergavenny4

   Illustration B14a.  Beeson seems to have supplied not only loco fittings, small parts for makers, and backheads, but on occasion even larger components too. The loco above was built (probably in the 1950s) for a founder member of the Gauge 0 Guild by the late George Hinchcliffe, a much-respected railway enthusiast who was also an excellent modeller. The narrative suggests that although Beeson himself had been too busy to take on the job, he had supplied parts that were needed, including apparently the smokebox itself. I gather that he knew personally both the builder and the person for whom the loco was being built. For a picture of this engine running outdoors on the layout of R. Farrants, and for the layout of G.Hinchcliffe, see Ray, J. (ed.), "Fifty Years Along The Line, 1956-2006",The Gauge 0 Guild Ltd., 2006, pp. 14-15 and 10-13.It can be added that Beeson's catalogue from the 1930s included the offer to supply some complete smokeboxes with details included.



Illustrations B14b and B14c.  This model exemplifies some of the problems that arise when one tries to identify the maker of a high quality 3-rail engine. I consulted several very helpful experts about this loco, including the leading authority in the field, and it seems that Beeson had a hand in its production, but that other people also may have been involved (either as sub-contractors or paid assistants, or at a different stage). Advice suggests that the main body components and much of the motion were most probably made by Beeson, and that he was involved with the painting. Having made comparisons with the other Beeson 2-6-4 tanks shown in this section, however, I have concluded that the chassis and bogies on this SECR one are probably not Beeson's, and that some of the detailing work perhaps also may have been by someone else.

The loco is mostly of tinplate. The combination of the paintwork, the shapes and curves of the body, and the handsome fittings on this model must have been stunning when it was new. The loco is closely based on a 2-6-4 tank built by the SECR, but I have not so far come across a picture of the full-sized engine in this complex livery (and conceivably it never carried it). The model most likely dates from the very end of the 1930s, from the 1940s, or from the 1950s, but if anyone knows anything more specific on this please get in touch.

  Unfortunately, this loco has been treated very badly by a previous owner, which has complicated its identification. Below the body the motion seems to have been moved and altered (with consequential damage to a small section of the metalwork at the bottom edge of the body on each side), and one small component has been broken. The wheels, mechanism, pickups and bogies all seem to have been changed, and the frames themselves have been cut away in places, as has one of the cylinders. The most likely reason was to achieve more effective running on smaller radius curves. The original frames were built to a good standard, but so much has been changed that the loco probably needs new ones now (and perhaps that would provide an opportunity to get closer to Beeson's style).



Illustration B14e.   A copy of the Beeson style (?).  LB & SCR 'Terrier' 0-6-0 tank loco No. 82.  The model has strong similarities with Beeson engines of this class shown in photographs published elsewhere (see the cover page of the Model Railway Constructor, 46, 538, February 1979; and Ganderton's book, cited above, p. 16). Some points in the assembly and detailing, however, indicate that No 82 was not built by Beeson. Nonetheless, it is well made, has at least a dozen clear marking out lines below the paint that bring to mind Beeson's practices, uses split pins to hold features above the boiler, and incorporates some excellent fittings. Some unusual detailing below the body echoes features on 'Bishopsgate', the engine shown by the Model Railway Constructor. In the absence of any other information, the best guess at present is that perhaps the model was influenced by Beeson, but not put together by him. Maybe he supplied body parts and one or two of the fittings, when someone else was setting out to create a 'copy' visually in keeping with his style. On the other hand, the creation of the model may have been entirely independent. If anyone knows more about the history and origins of this model, please let me know. The exterior of 'Boxhill' is mostly in good condition, but the inside has been altered roughly, the electrical system is faulty, and a cheap modern backhead has been inserted. It has also lost some very small fittings.


Illustration B14f.  One of Beeson's advertisements, from The Model Railway News, March 1932, 8, 87, page vii.


Beeson's production of locos before the 1950s

Although there is relatively little published information on the coarse-scale three-rail locos supplied by Beeson before the war and in early post-war years, it seems feasible to group them for present purposes into three main overlapping categories.

One group contains the engines sold through firms such as Milbro, Exley or Bassett-Lowke (and retailers such as R.M.Evans; see below). My guess is that many of these models were fitted with motors or mechanisms supplied or specified by the retailer, while the level of detailing would have varied according to customer and contractual expectations.

It is conceivable that Beeson might also have provided unfinished loco bodies or separate tenders for firms such as Milbro or Exley if requested, and he certainly offered builders a source for very high quality fittings and good mechanisms. There doesn't seem to be much available information on these matters, and judgements about the commercial relationships are inevitably speculative. People who are much more expert than I am on Beeson's work and history might be able to provide more insights.

An additional point is that Beeson also improved or rebuilt some models made by well-known firms such as Bassett-Lowke, and this might have occurred not only in response to a private customer but perhaps also as a commission for an improved model to be supplied to one of these customers. As far as I can tell, substantial rebuilds of this kind are very rarely found, but I hope to add an example in this section of the website when time permits. By contrast, the literature points to some known locos that were built by Beeson and returned to him later on for modification and enhancement.  

A second group is made up of engines built to Beeson's highest standards of construction and detail, and sold directly by him (but also available via the more expensive of his commissions from retailers). These models would normally have had his higher-quality mechanisms, and been regarded as 'super-detail' engines in the context of the 1930s (although today's fine-scale modellers would not necessarily now see them all as such).

In addition, Beeson's catalogue from the 1930s referred to a category of models that he could supply at lower cost (and reference is made therein to this "cheaper class of locomotives"). Little has been reported on these models, but a 1937 review indicates that they were being marketed as his "standard" range at that time. The engines were described as being less fully detailed than his "super-detailed" products, and the range was said to have included a GWR Saint, an LNER rebuilt Claud Hamilton, a SR 2-6-0, and an LMS 5P mixed traffic 4-6-0 (see J.N.Maskelyne, "The Trade Stands at the Model Railway Club Exhibition", The Model Railway News, 13, 150, June 1937, pp. 148-149). My guess is that this range overlapped (leaving aside the mechanisms) with what Beeson was offering at reasonable prices to his retailer customers. Thus the Clauds shown later below (which are fairly plain and have no brake or backhead detail at all) are probably very similar to the LNER rebuilt Claud Hamilton mentioned in the 1937 MRN report, but each is fitted with a Mills motor rather than one of Beeson's own. I do not have access to any records about Beeson's output, or to Milbro information on sub-contracts, so my comments here are inevitably subject to correction if someone else has relevant material.   

It also needs noting, however, that there is definite evidence supporting the view that earlier than this some Beeson engines were being built deliberately to a lower standard than his more expensive models. An advertisement in 1931 refers to a "Semi-mass Production Line" and mentions two engines. The prices were considerably lower than for his super-detail models (see our next illustration).   




Illustration B14g.  An advertisement showing variation of quality and prices fairly early on in Beeson's production of models. This may have reflected adaptation to the economic conditions of the period.  See The Model Railway News, September 1931, 7, 81, page vii.

This was not the only Beeson advertising in the MRN that emphasised the availability of a low-priced range.  In 1934 a very large group of models was identified, including some of his most impressive classes of loco. We reproduce that advertisement immediately below.  


Illustration B14h.  This shows the wide group of model classes that Beeson was able to offer in his cheaper range.

I guess that the tank locos listed above after the rebuilt Claughton would have been the LMS Fowler tanks Beeson could make to order.  For this advertisement see The Model Railway News, 10, 120, December 1934, page xi.  It is worth adding that even Beeson's lower-priced models were still quite expensive in comparative terms. This period looks to have been one with ongoing difficulties for some retailers and products, and cheap offers could certainly be obtained elsewhere too. The back page of the same issue of the MRN displays a Bond's offer of 'Bargains for all', comprising 'English Outline' Marklin items at nearly half price. The same page also features specific continental models, including a German pacific for O gauge at £6, and mentions a 4-8-2 for not a great deal more. Interestingly, the reader was told by Bond's that these engines could run on 3 ft radius curves.


Two Beeson models from the same loco class, with different levels of quality

The pictures below are an attempt to provide some comparative illustration by drawing on two Beeson models representing engines of the same LMS locomotive class. One of these tank engines (2300) was included in an earlier section above, and is now set alongside a similar but less expensive Beeson engine built to slightly different cost/price levels. I am lucky to be able to access these two locos, as comparisons of this kind can rarely be made. The fourth picture below highlights the motion on 2300, the more expensive engine (where more of the components are fluted and the cylinders seem more expensively made). Building the cheaper model - 2313 - has included some use of soft metal components.











   Illustrations  B15a-B15h.   Images of two Fowler 2-6-4 tank locos by Beeson; one from his pre-war super-detail range (2300) and the other probably from his less expensive category (2313). Construction is closely similar, even though detailing differs in places, and - interestingly - both have substantial marking-out lines on the exterior under the paintwork. The slightly less detailed model has suffered some damage and also been converted to two-rail with a new mechanism. The three-rail engine from the 'super-detail range' is closer to original condition except for some missing brake detail, repainted letters and numbers, and minor paint damage (see below for its mechanism). There are a couple of elements on 2313 where less care has been exercised when building the model. One hypothesis might be that some of the assembly work on this category of locos could have involved someone else (although under Beeson's direction); unfortunately there seems to be little information about this period. In any event, I think that both engines are extremely attractive models, and may exemplify the merits of Beeson's 1930s-1940s products when compared with those of most of his commercial competitors.  Although the motion on 2313 is plainer than on the more expensive model, the work is nonetheless excellent for its period.

 It seems that the full-sized LMS Fowler tank 2313 carried the painted name "The Prince", although this was apparently removed in 1933 (Booth, J., "The LMS 2-6-4Ts", Locomotives Illustrated, 47, 1986, pp. 8-9). I cannot detect any evidence of the model having had that name on it, but perhaps it did when originally made.





Illustrations B16a and B16b.  Details of the bogies on loco 2300. The arrangements are very simple, especially at the rear of the engine, although also very neat and effective.


Motors in Beeson locos (and Beeson motors used elsewhere)




Illustrations B17a and B17b.   Beeson mechanism from the 1930s, belonging to the 2-6-4 tank loco 2300 shown above. This appears to be an example of Beeson's 'Dalite' Super Electric Chassis, with an eight pole armature. The reversing switch mentioned in his catalogue has survived; note the piece of wire attached to a "turntable" on the top of the frames. Although parts of the dummy brake gear have been lost, everything is generally in good working order. It seems that before the war a mechanism of this type would have cost £20 if sold separately. The frames on the mechanism do not quite run up to the front buffer beam, so the chassis design on this particular model is not exactly the same as with Milbro locos from their scale models range.  

The lack of flanges on the central pair of wheels seen above is of note, and reflects the commercial need to offer locos that could manage the curves found on many layouts, even at the 'top end' of the market.



Illustration B18a.  A smaller mechanism believed to have been built to order by Beeson, perhaps from his cheaper "reasonably priced" category of 'Dalite' (Any Wheelbase) Mechanisms. His catalogue description refers to use of a three pole armature for the cheaper motors, and to the options of worm gearing or spur gearing, the former being "fitted with double thrust ball bearings". The mechanism shown here includes ball races, and the components move very freely. Indeed, despite its simplicity, this is the best small vintage worm geared mechanism I have ever seen. I cannot be certain that it is by Beeson, but that seems very likely. It was fitted into what I believe is an Exley 0-4-4 tank engine, and it may be that Beeson supplied some parts for that loco along with its mechanism. It is possible that the Fowler tank 2313 shown above was originally fitted with a six-wheel version of one of Beeson's cheaper types of mechanism. 





Illustrations B18b-B18d.  Mechanism from the LMS jinty in BR livery shown earlier above at Illustration B8r.  Although 'traditional' in its key features, this is set up for two-rail running. Thanks to the owner of this model for sending me the pictures. He notes that the mechanism has a switch that can be used to reverse polarity or isolate the loco from the track.




Illustrations B18e and B18f.  This is the mechanism from the Stanier tank loco shown earlier. It is much larger and more expensive than the one shown in Illustration B18a, and the motor has more poles, but both have worm gearing and the two sets of ball races on the shaft. The one in Illustration B18b also looks expensive, but most likely has been designed to fit into the smaller loco to which it belongs.


Illustration B18g.  Some Beeson mechanisms were designed to solve the problem that a large motor unit was often visible from the outside of a model. In particular, an enthusiast might wish where appropriate to be able to see daylight under the boiler, but that ruled out many standard mechanisms. (This advertisement appeared in The Model Railway News of November 1931, 7, 83, page ix.)


I have found no systematic analysis or reporting about the motors used by Beeson over his long involvement in locomotive-building, although it seems to be something of a conventional wisdom that he built all the electric mechanisms that he used in the earlier periods. Ganderton (p. 23) refers to the December 1930 advertisement offering Beeson's own mechanisms for fitting into other locos, and it seems probable that the models he sold under his own name would generally have been given these mechanisms (with his own motors) from at least that year onwards until the war. There is also earlier printed evidence of Beeson having made a mechanism of his own to go into a model he had built for a customer. His February 1926 letter to The Model Railway News (see above) describes a "home made" motor and gearing, with a reversing switch fitted to the engine. In contrast, for clockwork models supplied to the same enthusiast Beeson had employed clockwork mechanisms by Kay Models  and Bassett-Lowke. In any event, it seems likely that before the war Beeson generally did make the electric mechanisms that went into the locomotives he sold directly, although there may have been some exceptions. Even from the very small sample of models available to me, however, this appears not necessarily to have been the practice when he was supplying engines for other retailers in the 1930s and 1940s. Neither was it necessarily his sole practice in the era of Pittman, Rocket Precision and Romford motors after the war (see for instance Ganderton, p. 92).


Beeson for Bassett-Lowke

Bassett-Lowke commissioned work from various makers in the inter-war years, and Beeson is understood to have been one of the firm's suppliers, providing them with high-quality 0 gauge loco models to special order. Some B/L catalogues listed super-detailed engines that could be supplied to customers, but I have no information on the items that Beeson actually produced in those years for Bassett-Lowke. I have been shown a very well-built special order LMS Fowler 2-6-2 tank loco by Beeson that carries the B/L trade mark, but such items are extremely rare, and I have no knowledge on when it was made. A super-detailed LMS Princess pacific was mentioned earlier above, and is shown in Ganderton's book.

After World War Two, Bassett-Lowke continued to supply special order items to customers, but again I have no material on the extent of Beeson's contribution to this. As well as supplying models, Beeson could also rebuild or enhance B/L's own standard catalogued items, but references to this activity seem sketchy and scattered. 

Finally, it is conceivable that Beeson might have occasionally supplied parts for loco bodies if requested by retailers, including Bassett-Lowke. I have wondered whether this might have happened (for example) with the LMS Stanier 2-6-2 tank locos produced by Bassett-Lowke around 1940, which might have had some similarities with a super-detailed version the company had advertised shortly before (and that I have been advised was likely made by Beeson).

In the next illustrations below we show some features of a very plain Beeson three-rail atlantic loco that perhaps might have been commissioned through Bassett-Lowke, as it has been fitted with a Bassett-Lowke 'Permag' mechanism. This has been skillfully tailored into brass frames designed for the specific model. As far as I can tell from the small group of pre-war Bassett-Lowke catalogues I have, the mechanism used is from a period running from the second half of the 1920s to the end of the 1930s. Bassett mechanisms of this kind seem to have used worm gearing as standard, as has been done in the atlantic.

I know no way of dating this model without additional information on its history, but the mechanism, the thick wheels, the pick-ups, and the limited detailing seem to point to the late 1920s or the early to mid-1930s, rather than to the 1940s-1950s. The tender has what seem to be Leeds Model Company soft metal "dummy tender springs" (as LMC catalogues put it), and the coal rails appear to be made with the "half-round wire" mentioned in Beeson's 1926 letter (see above, Illustrations B2a-B2c).

Discussing Beeson, Levy refers to the "supremacy of this builder" even in the early days (cited above, p. 197, 4), and the quality of this model demonstrates the justice of that description even where there has been considerable simplification. The loco may have been "built down to a price" , but the quality of work has not been sacrificed.







Illustrations  B19a, B19b, B19c, B19d, and B19e.  Beeson LNER atlantic, probably made in the late 1920s or the early 1930s. Simon Greenwood expertly repaired the interior of this loco at the front in 2011 (where it was coming apart), and fitted pickups matching those that had previously been lost. The whistle was also missing, and a standard commercial 'bolt-on' type has been put on. This replacement whistle appears to be one shown both in Leeds and Bassett-Lowke pre-war catalogues. 

 There is very limited detail on this loco, and the design of the flat plate above the cylinder on each side of the engine has been modified slightly so that it differs from the prototype (perhaps to add strength). Nonetheless, in broad terms the atlantic is close to being a scale model were it not for some implications from accommodating the coarse-scale wheels. As far as I can tell by looking through Yeadon's Register, the tender shown above (with its equal axle spacing) is of a type not usually used with this class of atlantic. The first engine of the class, however, was given a similar tender when built (and was then in GNR livery). (For details see "Yeadon's Register of LNER Locomotives, Volume Thirteen, Class C1, C2, C4 & C5 Atlantics", Challenger Publications, reprinted by Book Law/Railbus, Nottingham, 2003.)  I do not know if the number on the tender sides was put there by Beeson or someone else, but it is not correct for an engine of this type. It is possible that the person who purchased the loco wanted a particular number, or even that the tender was initially meant for another engine of a different class, but today there is no way of knowing.  


This loco originally had on it the connecting rods shown lying below it in Illustration B19b. I think these were probably an attempt by Beeson to offer something broadly representative and acceptable at that time, while meeting what might well have been a tight cost target. I would argue that in the event these rods turned out to be small works of art in themselves, and I have not so far encountered anything comparable from any contemporary maker.


The next picture shows a much later model. It was supplied to a customer by Bassett-Lowke, apparently as that firm's last special order in 1964 (see Illustration V1 in our section on Other Vintage Locos & Motors). When I first encountered this tank engine I took it to be made of brass, and was uncertain about the sub-contractor who had created it to meet B/L's order. Later I checked the metal of the body more carefully and found it to be nickel silver, and a fuller examination (allied with some previous expert advice) led me to conclude it was made by Beeson. If that is correct, then some of the other special order models from the 1960s shown in Fuller's book on Bassett-Lowke are also probably by Beeson (see Fuller, R., 'The Bassett Lowke Story', New Cavendish Books, London, 1984, pp. 102-104, plates 134, 135, 136 & 5).





  Illustrations B20a and B20b.   Bassett-Lowke's 'last special order', a tank loco made for one of their customers in the 1960s (see also Illustration V1, in the Other Vintage Locos & Motors section). I have been advised that this is most likely a Beeson model. Although it has characteristic 'Beeson-style' pins through its crank pins, the mechanism is built using what looks like a standard type of B/L post-war motor unit, as can be seen in the lower photo above. 


Illustration B21a.  The Midland and Great Northern tank engine alongside what may well have been another special order model for Bassett-Lowke from the same period, although I understand there is no available archive record of this freight engine (a J37). The 0-6-0 here has something in common with the tank engine, but also with a couple of the special order Scottish locos shown in Fuller's plates. It has a B/L clockwork mechanism and only simple detailing, but is very well made. I believe that this too might well be by Beeson, although that could be difficult to verify, especially as it seems to have been repainted.

Some time after I had put this picture on the website, an enthusiast very kindly sent me some photographs of an 0-6-0 tender loco very similar to the one shown above. The LNER numbers are different, but the construction and detailing of the two models look exactly the same. Thus it seems there was a closely matched pair, perhaps made at the same time for some specific client or purpose.


Illustration B21b.  The second clockwork loco referred to in the text immediately above. Many thanks to its owner for sending me the picture.  

I am grateful for advice from an experienced enthusiast and model railway operator, Martin Ford, about the implications of finding a pair of commercially-made models like these LNER ones (or NBR ones if their livery has been altered by an earlier owner). He has indicated that there are considerable benefits from constructing more than one model with the same characteristics, and it is possible that building two might perhaps only involve 20 percent more work than building one. Experience with the first would be useful in solving problems and understanding what would be required, and cost savings might be significant in the building process itself. Indeed, aspects of the actual manufacture might be done simultaneously for two models.  I would guess that financial savings could potentially be shared between the maker to whom the commission was handed, the customer, and the retailer. There is documentation supporting Martin's commentary in the case of Bassett-Lowke (see below).



Illustration B21c.  I have not reproduced this item well, but it is a very useful report from the Railway Modeller of February 1962, containing Bassett-Lowke's offer to reduce price on special order models if more than one were commissioned (see 13, 136, page 47). This indicates that selling the two matched locos seen above was consistent with B/L commercial practices in this period, and I would guess that any production cost saving most likely could have been shared with the sub-contractor making the models.   The price is also interesting, being £80-£160 even though the example shown is very plain (like our 0-6-0 tender locos above). Some might feel this was a high quality model built to standards that were already becoming superseded. Interestingly, the special order example shown is rather like our our locos in its style and in the prototype selected (and can be better seen in Fuller, cited above).    


'Beeson for Mills' and other firms

Very little has been written in model railway publications about the link between Beeson and Mills, and I have not seen any list of the models supplied to Milbro by Beeson. Levy's book, A Century of Model Trains (cited above), includes some invaluable illustrations of pre-war Beeson engines on pages 196-197, where the author also mentions that maker's trade customers. It seems probable that the level and quality of detailing in Beeson engines provided for Mills would have reflected prices anticipated at the time they were being commissioned. My guess is that 'Beeson for Mills' locos would have been more likely to be fitted with Milbro mechanisms or at least Mills motor units than with Beeson's own, a factor that is helpful for identification. With the passage of time, original mechanisms may have been removed, and models may have been 'refurbished' or 'updated'. Nonetheless, some have survived in more or less their original state, as with the LMS Jubilee shown in the next illustration. I believe this loco to have been made by J.S.Beeson for Milbro, most likely in the second half of the 1930s (although alternatively a little later).


Illustration B22.  'Beeson for Mills' 0 gauge Jubilee Class loco. I am grateful to Tennants Auctioneers for permission to include this very useful catalogue picture from a sale. The event was one of their periodic Toys, Models and Collectables auctions (held in July 2015 at the Leyburn auction centre in North Yorkshire).  The hammer price was £3,000, reflecting the appreciation collectors have of the quality of models like this. The character of the full-sized engine is nicely reflected in the model, and the detailing is very attractive, although perhaps not as developed in all respects as on some more expensive Beeson engines made in the same period.

Apart from some minor damage in the cab area and a missing step this Jubilee is in really excellent condition. It has a Milbro mechanism built into full-length brass frames. The engine-to-tender connection can be compared with that on the Sandringham loco shown in Levy's book (see my citation in the text above). The Jubilee model shown here does not have nameplates, conceivably an indicator of its production date. Readers interested in seeing the prototype loco when new from its manufacturer can consult Powell's book (A.J.Powell, "Stanier Locomotive Classes", Ian Allan, 1991, pages 48-49). This shows the loco without any nameplates in 1934.

The next four illustrations show two Claud Hamilton locos that I think should also be described as models 'by Beeson for Mills'. In each case the brass frames containing the Milbro mechanism do not run the full length of the loco (and thereby differ from what would have been constructed by the Mills factory for a 4-4-0 of their own).  



Illustration B23a.  I believe this to be a 'Beeson for Mills' Claud Hamilton. The model has  three-rail pickups. It is very plain, but the 'build quality' is much higher than was achieved on most 0 gauge engines of its period.


 Illustration B23b.  A second 'Beeson for Mills' Claud. Both these models contain Milbro mechanisms dating them to the second half of the 1930s or perhaps just a little later. The two locos have quite a few differences of detail, and the second one (immediately above) has a metal section 'dropped down' from the boiler in front of the splasher. That suggests an earlier version. In addition, this second one has undergone minor modification to the tender by a previous owner, has been fitted with a skate pickup, and had had its nameplate changed when I first encountered it (see below for the original plates).  The coal area and surrounding metalwork are very simplified in the tender.



Illustration B23c.  Some time after picture B23b had been taken, one of the nameplates fell off this loco, revealing another nameplate underneath it. The loco seems to have been made with the name 'John Herivel', and the two Herivel plates are still there, although looking a little distressed after removal of the Claud ones. A later Claud Hamilton nameplate had been glued over the top on each side of the engine by a more recent owner. Claud Hamilton was the only named engine of its class, so the John Herivel nameplate must have been made to meet the request of a specific client. I currently have no information on who commissioned the model, but I understand that there was an important codebreaker with this name at Bletchley Park in World War Two. He later became a distinguished science historian.  



Illustration B23d.  The loco as it is now, albeit awaiting some repairs and tidying. Neither this photo nor the one above of the nameplate seem to have got the loco's colour right ! 




Illustrations B23e and B23f.   It is probable that Beeson not only produced batches of engines at particular times, but also several locos of the same type spread over a longer period. I am grateful to the owner of this model for sending me these pictures, which show what seems to be a slightly later Beeson engine of exactly the same type as those above. This one has a different cabside number and some distinctive detailing, but is nonetheless very similar to the other two models. 

The cabside handrail below the windows on this side seems to have been lost, but should be easy to replace.



Illustration B23g  This third Beeson Claud (2500) may well have been sold via Mills, but has been fitted at some stage with a Bond's postwar mechanism as well as a skate pickup. I cannot tell whether it previously had a Milbro mechanism, although dropping the frames out might make it possible to see evidence (if there was any). The engine-to-tender connection on this model looks absolutely right for a three-rail Beeson loco, and the two springs visible on the bogie are similar to those on one of the other two Clauds above.  This model seems to have more of a matt finish than the others.





Illustrations B24a and B24b.  Beeson for Mills LMS 0-6-0 tank loco. I think features of this model strongly reflect the input of Beeson, although it appears that use was made (when the loco was built) of a Mills mechanism, and there are also Milbro-style lamp brackets (at the rear) and Milbro steps. For fuller discussion and more pictures of this model see our website section on Milbro locomotives.


Beeson for Gresham Models/Milbro; a possible relationship ?

It has been suggested to me that the firm Gresham Models may also have commissioned Beeson to produce some of the locomotives it sold, although I have not seen any documentary evidence of this relationship, and have only encountered a very small number of their engines. An additional option is that there conceivably could have been a link between these two parties and Mills, with use of Mills mechanism components in some instances. If anyone has information about who built or put together Gresham Models engines, please get in touch. From the small amount of information I have so far, I would guess that Gresham produced or assembled some of their items 'in house', but for more expensive jobs may have commissioned locomotives, parts or components from Beeson and/or other expert makers. If this is correct, it would parallel what may have happened with RME (see later comments).  I show below some pictures of a first-rate model, and of the Gresham works plate it has underneath. I am grateful to the owner of this loco for providing these pictures. It is believed that this model was made by Beeson.  




Illustrations B27a, B27b and B27c.  It has been suggested to me that Beeson built some of the locos sold through Gresham Models, and that the engine pictured here is an example of what was supplied under this relationship. I am grateful to the owner for letting me present these photographs.


Beeson for Exley

Beeson's links with Exley are well known, and may have been particularly important during the 1950s, although Exley also used other sub-contractors at that time. We include a pannier tank from this period at the start of our section on Exley, and it may perhaps have been supplied by Beeson.


'Beeson for Evans'; reviewing the 0 gauge locos of R.M.Evans & Co. (RME)

R.M.Evans & Co. is a firm relatively little known today amongst 0 gauge enthusiasts, and I have not so far come across anything to suggest that they had the kind of impact as 0 gauge model makers or retailers that Douglass Models or LMC had in the post-war years. Evans & Co was a London company that was apparently first established in 1937 (see final pages of their 1949 and 1951 catalogues), and advertised in the model railway press and produced some catalogues in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The earliest catalogue I have so far seen was from April 1947, but that makes reference to a previous one and was probably their second edition. A third edition dates from March 1949, and a fourth from May 1951. If anyone has an early RME catalogue (probably from 1945 or 1946 but possibly earlier) or any catalogue issued later than 1951, please make contact and let me know. In December 1953 the Model Railway News carried a half-page announcement and advertisement from K's Precision Model Engineers of London, indicating that the stock, production, and customer services of R.M.Evans had been taken over by K's, who had "completed the purchase of all the stock" (29, 348, p. x). 




Illustrations B28a, B28b and B28c.  Catalogues by R.M.Evans, from 1949, 1951 and 1947.


A brief internet search for this firm located only a little informal comment (including the observation that R.M.Evans had apparently later been editor of the Model Engineer). The catalogue pictures, however, show what appear to be excellent models of engines in 7mm (0) and 4mm (00) scale, with a level of detailing and general style suggestive of high aspirations in terms of realistic representation. At the same time the firm offered locomotive kits in 4mm scale, to enable the "home construction of super-detail locos" (1947 catalogue, p. 11). Pictures of some 4mm kit-built locos and their RME boxes can be found on the internet.  As well as kits and ready-to-run models, RME sold a variety of useful items across different scales, including castings, drawings, coach and wagon fittings, wheels, mechanisms, track, model engineering materials, and so forth. Their advertising claimed they were agents "for all the leading makers", and the opening page of the 1947 catalogue includes indicators of professional connections with the Model Aircraft Trade Association and META. 

Catalogue comments mention their "special department" for hand-made scale model locomotives in three scales, and the offer is made to quote for any type. As might be expected in the 1940s, they could supply with three-rail pickups, stud contact arrangements, or two-rail. There is however no reference in the 1947, 1949 or 1951 catalogues to RME having its own workshop, and no picture is shown of workbenches, although the firm claimed to be able to build a loco which would be an exact replica of the prototype, and correct "to the last rivet head", with "old-time and pre-group locomotives a speciality" (1951 catalogue, p. 11).

I am very grateful to the photographer who took the picture shown immediately below, of a 3-rail GWR prairie tank loco. I am informed that this model was documented as having been sold by Evans in the late 1940s, and (at time of writing) it is the only such item I have information on. It looks to be of very good quality, although in terms of representation perhaps not quite to the standard of some of the models included in the Evans catalogue illustrations (which will be discussed further below). My tentative assumption is that RME was able to supply O gauge model locos ranging from very good quality items to exceptional ones. Perhaps this particular engine might have been made 'in house', or built for RME by a sub-contractor, but did not fall into the firm's highest priced bracket.



Illustration B28d.  A well-made GWR prairie tank sold by R.M.Evans in the late 1940s. Many thanks to the photographer for letting me use this picture. As far as I can tell without additional information, this model may well have been made 'in house' by the firm, or commissioned from another good maker (although perhaps not one in the very top rank). 


If we turn to the company's catalogue illustrations for 7 mm, we can see a number of other excellent models. These included a GNR saddle tank,  SR (LSWR) 0-4-4 tank, LMS 2-6-0, GWR City 4-4-0, Caledonian 0-4-2, Great Eastern Claud Hamilton 4-4-0 (in its early form), GWR Star, and Great Eastern 0-4-4 tank.








Illustrations B29a, B29b, B29c, B29d, B29e and B29f.  Some of the 0 gauge locomotive models in the catalogues.

The Star and the Caledonian loco were reviewed at length (along with a 4 mm loco) in the Model Railway News issue for April 1951 ("Talking Shop", 27, 316, pp. 76-77). The Caledonian engine had been fitted with a Rocket mechanism and sprung wheels. The Star was reported to be a two-rail loco, and fitted "with a large Rocket 12-volt mechanism". Its springing was described as almost true to prototype, "as scale axleboxes and horns" had been used. In addition, working inside valve-gear had been incorporated. This report suggests work well above the level of detail that had normally been aimed for by most makers or retailers in the 1930s and 1940s.


Illustration B29g.  Picture of North Star from back cover of 1951 catalogue.

Nothing was reported in the catalogues shown above on possible sub-contracting by RME, but it seems hard to believe that locos of the quality applauded in the review could have been created by employees 'in house' without some outside assistance in a small company of this kind. Of course this judgement might be wrong, and I would be glad to have further information if anyone knows more. The MRN review stated that the company ("one of our well-known London shops") had "completed the three locomotive models shown", but made no comment about other engines pictured in their catalogues. The SR tank engine was given three illustrations in the 1949 catalogue, and the Star had four in 1951, suggesting perhaps a fairly small number of 'top rank' special order items to draw upon for promotional photos. In September 1952 the Model Railway News mentioned a GWR King loco from the company, with rivet detail and paintwork "superbly executed" ("Talking Shop", 28, 333, pp. 200-201). Although referred to in that review as being for 16.5 mm, this model seems to have been made for 4mm, as it was described as such when the company devoted a half-page advertisement to it the following month (28, 334, p. xxi). It had apparently been built for a customer in the USA. The advertisement observed that prices for such models were "naturally high", but argued that it was surely better to have one really fine model than two or three indifferent and badly finished ones.

Another of the 7mm locos featured by the company not only in a catalogue picture but also in a press advertisement was the Great Eastern 0-4-4 tank engine shown below.


 Illustration B29h.  RME catalogue illustration of GER 0-4-4 tank loco in 7MM scale.


The magazine advertisement containing this tank loco stated that "Our prices are not the lowest, but for quality and value our locos. are unsurpassed" ("Locomotives by Evans", The Model Railway News, 26, 302, February 1950, ii). The impression is again of models built to a high standard and produced to meet specific orders. Use of the term 7mm (rather than 0 gauge) reinforces the impression of scale models. There is, however, reference in the catalogues to the considerable difficulties resulting from restrictions affecting the supply and use of materials, particularly metals. When this is considered alongside general post-war economic problems influencing the UK, it seems likely that the firm was trying to do something that was by no means easy. Certainly, setting high standards would have restricted the available market for its custom-built models, even if its premises appeared appropriately located near to Sloane Square and Victoria Station in London. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some RME advertisements concentrated on 00 items such as kits. 

I am only able at present to access a single example of a model that looks to be one of the engines shown in their catalogue. I believe this very likely to be the engine shown in Illustration B29h above. I might be mistaken, but the match of the model with the advertising photograph seems convincing, with small details (such as the design chosen when representing brackets on the smokebox door) apparently exactly the same as in the catalogue.  I cannot say how far this item is typical of the  engines the firm sold, but the quality is outstanding, and I would guess it to be beyond the normal ambition or capacity of all but the very best of the commercial 0 gauge model-makers of the vintage era of the 1930s and the early post-war years. It is probable, therefore, that the model was made to RME's order by Beeson. Tentatively (and subject to any subsequent correction) this model might be described as a 'Beeson for Evans' tank loco. 




Illustrations B30a and B30b.  Great Eastern 0-4-4 S44 Class tank loco (LNER G4) believed to be by Beeson for Evans. Neither the photos of this model shown earlier (in Illustrations B6a and B6b above) nor the two pictures presented now capture the paintwork very effectively. Those seen here make the black look a little more blue than it is. 


beeson for evans2ndset6



 Illustrations  B30c, B30d and B30e.   Some details from the inside, and below the body.

Everything about this model is neat and solid. The loco had lost one cab handrail and three pieces of detailing representing thin piping/rails (or similar) and associated small fittings, but this missing detailing was made good to an outstanding standard in 2017/2018.

This loco was made with some attractive modelling of features below the body, as can be seen best in the final image above. That kind of detailing is very unusual for a vintage engine in this scale. The backhead detail inside the cab is very plain, but effective and made with precision (and the unit is attached to the frames so as to be readily accessible while remaining economical in terms of using space). The metal loco number plates contain fine lettering that needs magnification to fully appreciate (although my photos have not captured their quality at all well).

If this is a 'Beeson for Evans' model, it would have been built to a price that affected the degree of detailing catered for on elements such as the backhead. Customers could pay to have extras added to a standard model (and the company gave an example price of £5-£7 for adding cab fittings to an 0-6-0 tank loco in 00 gauge). What may well be fuller backhead detail can be seen in one of the SR 0-4-4 tank loco catalogue pictures (see above).

It is important to note the family narrative about this loco. This was that it had been supplied by Beeson in the 1930s as a three-rail engine for a purchaser in Wales, and that in the post-war years the original owner's son had arranged for it to be converted for finer-scale two-rail running. That conversion explains the present wheels and relatively modern mechanism, and (if the attribution to Beeson is correct) perhaps the replacement of distinctive crank pins. It is also possible that the bogie was replaced at that time. Conceivably, the loco initially may have had a Rocket Precision mechanism, as the firm's catalogue designated these as the finest motors yet produced for 0 gauge, and their use was noted in the MRN review. On the other hand, I am informed by Pieter Penhall that the design for the Rocket Motor gear train was registered in 1947, which might make a Rocket motor less likely for the 0-4-4 if that loco was indeed made at the end of the 1930s. The locomotive body seems to be primarily of nickel silver, which might seem to make the late 1940s more likely than the 1930s as the production period, but need not rule out the 1937-1939 period. If this tank engine is from the 1930s (in line with the narrative), use of its promotional photo ten or more years later might perhaps be explained by only a small number of scale locos having been sold through the firm, or by the disruptions of the war. 

As indicated earlier, the black livery on this engine seems incorrect for a GE loco involved in passenger work (although it is conceivable even if unlikely that the model might have looked different when sold).  I am not sure also whether the condenser pipe arrangement is correct as a representation of the prototype on the side nearest to the camera in Illustration B6a. Perhaps both sides should have a U-bend in the pipe on this particular engine (see G. Pember, Great Eastern Railway 0-4-4 tank locomotives, GER Society, 1979, pages 12, 16, etc.).  (For a much more minor point on representation by Beeson see footnote 1 below). My knowledge of Great Eastern locos is limited, and any conclusion or interpretation about accuracy of the model may turn out to be mistaken.

This 0-4-4 loco seems to me to be of considerable historical interest. If (as seems very likely) it was made by Beeson for RME, then some of the other engines catalogued by Evans may also have been by Beeson. There are so few catalogue pictures of Beeson engines that this would make the Evans catalogues themselves of great interest, and it would certainly be nice to hear about any other high quality engines known to have come through this retailer. I would also be glad of any other information about this firm and its locos, as my commentary has had to be much more speculative and limited than I would have wished.



(1)  On a very minor point of detail, the hose attached to the front buffer beam appears to differ in its proportions from the prototype. It looks attractive to me, but brings to mind a slightly ungenerous comment in a 1962 book by Hamilton Ellis where he criticised the "proportions of the vacuum brake hose" at the front of a 1930s Beeson model loco he was featuring (Hamilton Ellis, Model Railways 1838-1939, Allen & Unwin, London, 1962, p. 96 opposite).