Milbro Model Railways, site logo.

Coaches by other makers


Coaches made by some of Milbro's competitors and successors 

Under development; material most recently added in July 2020



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. 



For purposes of comparison, and to supplement information available elsewhere from other writers, we comment briefly here on some features of coaches offered by Milbro's competitors and successors, and hope to enlarge material on this later (adding comments on Bond's, Douglass, R Models, Exley, Leeds, W & H, Windsor Models, etc.).

There is also one example of a coach that is by an expert UK modeller who was not a commercial maker (Geoffrey Pember). This is included to show the use of bakelite, to complement LMC pictures of rolling stock made with this material.  

I need to add that for this section I am sometimes going to be very dependent on information offered by other enthusiasts that I know, given the many limitations in my knowledge (and the need to rely on verification of the makers through people who have offered key photos). 



Under development 2020






Illustrations OC10a-OC10c. Bond's catalogue descriptions and images from 1931-32 (2nd edition) and 1936-37 (2nd edition). The aim seems to have been to offer vehicles that had a high level of realism for the period. 









Illustrations OC 11a-OC11g. I am very grateful to the enthusiast who sent me these photographs of four Bond's coaches that were at one time in his possession. I understand their origin was confirmed at that time, although they did not have any trade mark or company label. I am informed they are of wood, with glass panes attached inside, and fitted with Bond's bogies. They have good interior detailing, and most likely represent specific coach types from the LMS period which fit the style of lining they have. These Bond's vehicles make interesting comparison with the W&H coaches shown below, as the aim is similar.

The four coaches look to be in good order (although a glass pane has been broken at some point).




Exley coaches are very well known amongst model railway operators and enthusiasts, and the firm produced them over a long period, from the pre-war vintage era through into the second half of the twentieth century. The standard 0 gauge ranges were extensive, and the vehicles generally have a convincing and attractive appearance. Coaches of this type have metal bodies (made in a wrap-around form incorporating roof, sides and solebars), wooden bases (albeit with some attached metalwork), and cast ends, so that there is a very clear contrast with the items from Milbro's wooden standard coaches range or the LMC ranges. The visible difference from Milbro is accentuated when the Mills coaches have full early-style panelled sides rather than flush ones. For the windows, Exley used long strips of glass running through the length of the vehicles, and held by spring clips (whereas Mills coaches have individual panes fitted into slots in the wood, and coaches from some other makers have glue to fix the glass).

The best published source on Exley coaches I have seen is Ramsay's Guide, and I will draw on the seventh edition now for key points about these vehicles. Readers can find a fuller description there (including coverage of Exley 00 gauge), together with useful illustrations:  see "Ramsay's Catalogue of British Model Trains", Compiler and editor Hammond, P., 7th Edition, British Railway Modelling, Warners Group Publications, Lincolnshire, 2011. Hammond notes that the Exley "coaches made before 1940 tend to be more accurate to the prototype", whereas in the post-war years ("after the introduction of the K5 series, which were largely based upon the LMS Stanier profile"), it became "a matter of changing livery, rainstrips and window positions" (page 189). Importantly, the tooling for the coach bodies was upgraded around 1950 "to the style most commonly found today" (page 187). There were also changes in the same period to the ends on Exley coaches. In the pre-war years these had been alloy castings showing planking detail, and were "bowed if it was so on the prototype", whereas the new castings were to a more modern pattern "based on the LMS Stanier coach end" (page 188). Bogie designs also differed from the earlier period. It seems that detailing underneath coaches was initially very simple for standard coaches (with wooden box shapes before the war, similar to those on Milbro vehicles), but that in the decades after the war pressed metal battery boxes were deployed, and underframes became more detailed. Hammond also notes that the wooden floors sat higher inside the coach bodies during the pre-war and early post-war period (page 188).

Exley coaches may quite often be found set up for two-rail running, and the post-war ones have a relatively fine-scale 'look' that makes them useful for a variety of layouts. I understand that in 0 gauge the post-war versions are preferred by some collectors today, and these include the K5 and K6 types (the latter perhaps being seen as the best). At the same time, however, we can note that some especially rare and distinctive pre-war vehicles may remain sought after. Further developments in the post-war years after the K6 range are noted by Hammond, including the use of an Exley 'Moddex' trade mark, and plastic coach ends (page 188). It seems that plastic might also be utilised in the later years for some components underneath the coaches. I have been informed that after the production of standard types ceased, further items were marketed from Exley at Baslow; reference is sometimes made in that context to coaches described as being by 'Clegg for Exley'. I gather that body pressings could be sourced by Clegg in these years from his own production or from Westdale. It is important to note more generally that specific distinctive items were also available from time to time from Exley over a long period, some being made to meet particular requests.

We show now a few examples of Exley coaches and their details, to give an idea for those unfamiliar with them of what they are like. Many enthusiasts know a great deal more than I do about Exley rolling stock, and my accompanying comments rely partly on other people. First, some pictures are shown of five LNER Tourist Stock coaches, made before the second world war or fairly soon after it. This is an interesting set, which seems to have been supplied in two stages, since there are differing company labels underneath the two articulated pairs, and a difference in brightness of the paintwork. They are all bulky vehicles, have interior detailing, and include some coach ends that I am informed are similar to those on pre-war Gresley teak models made by the firm. As the articulated pairs are unusual, I have included some pictures showing how the coaches are joined together.


Pre-war/early post-war examples of Exley coaches



 (This is an early articulated pair of LNER tourist stock coaches. The coach roofs curve downwards at the outer ends, suggesting the bodies were drawn by Exley from their standard Gresley items, made more usually in teak colouring.)


(Details at one end of the pair.)


(I have tipped the left-hand coach up on its side here, to show the large 'post' that makes the link to the bogie !)


(Early trade mark carried on three items in this five-car set.)


(A single coach that would have been part of the same special order as the above pair. A very plain wooden box shape is visible below the body, very similar to what can be seen under a standard Milbro coach.)


(A second pair, with brighter paint and including a Buffet Car.)


(The light has reflected badly in this picture, giving the impression of a horizontal line along the green paintwork!  I had a bit of trouble taking good photos of these vehicles, but will have to wait until I get a bigger slot of time to do some better ones.)


(This probably makes the upper paint on the side look whiter than it actually is, but gives a glimpse of some of the interior detail.)


(Later transfer, carried on the Buffet Car and its accompanying coach.)


(The connecting up of the articulated coaches was solid and very simple, but seems to work.)


 (Pre-war Exley LNER bogie, plain wooden floor, and fairly basic construction style of the coach ends.)

Illustrations OC24a-OC24k.  Exley 5-car LNER tourist stock set, composed of model vehicles that seem to have been commissioned in two slightly different periods, but all dating from the pre-war or early post-war years of production. I think it probable that these coaches were from two special orders for the same enthusiast, but I do not know enough about Exley to speculate on how many other similar green-and-cream pre-war sets or individual coaches like these may exist in collections or on layouts. I have been informed that there is a very rare special order set designed to represent the West Riding coaches that ran behind LNER streamliners before the war, but some readers will know a great deal more than I do about Exley commissions.

A swift hunt for internet images of the full-sized tourist stock of the pre-war years has not found me any pictures showing LNER green-and-cream vehicles with Gresley-style 'turned down' coach roof ends like those on these models. A very knowledgeable collector has suggested to me that if these Exleys are not correct-to-prototype, then perhaps the firm simply offered to make use of their standard LNER Gresley coach bodies and the purchaser was happy with that.      


Later post-war examples of Exley coaches




Illustrations OC25a, OC25b and OC25c.  These pictures show features very familiar to Exley operators, including a company label, interior detail (with seats), and metalwork underneath the coach attached to a wooden base. The firm's labels quite often seem to be missing.




Illustrations OC25d and OC25e.  Examples of a cast coach end and Exley's own standard sprung bogie. I am informed this is the version from the post-war period. It is mounted on an aluminium fitting attached to the wooden coach underside. I understand the sides of the unit are castings, while the bolster is of tinplate.



Illustration OC25f.  A Bassett-Lowke bogie, as found on some Exley coaches. This is mounted on a shaped steel bearing plate screwed onto the wooden base of the coach. Bassett-Lowke marketed Exley coaches along with the products of some other companies (including Milbro).




Illustration OC26.  An Exley late period high quality LNWR coach, probably part of a smallish batch (or conceivably even perhaps a single special order item).  This is not one of the Clegg vehicles noted above (and illustrated below). I think that this is an exceptionally attractive model, with its convincing paintwork and excellent 'toplights', and it is in superb condition.



ExleyCoachBRREV3  ExleyCoachBRREV1

Illustration OC27.  Views of a 'Clegg for Exley' BR coach.


Leeds ..................... To come later !


Illustration OC32.  Innovative production by LMC; the bakelite coach series. 



Geoffrey Pember was an enthusiast, author and authority on railways, rather than a commercial maker or retailer of model railway items. His 7mm railway models, however, seem to have been much admired for their quality and unrivalled accuracy. The superb model coach shown below provides an interesting example of the use of bakelite on a specific building project by a highly expert individual modeller. It is well known that Leeds Model Company built some of its rolling stock (including coaches) using bakelite. The coach below is the only example I have to hand where this material has been used by another builder to help make an 0 gauge coach, and thus the only item available to record alongside what was undertaken (on a commercial basis) by Leeds.

Readers unfamiliar with this modeller may be interested to note that Pember was an acknowledged expert on the Great Eastern Railway, and his work on GER 0-4-4 tank locomotives is cited in our section on Beeson. His great skills and innovative approaches as a model-maker can be seen in a Gauge O Guild slide collection noted below, but also in contributions he made in print to advise others (see in particular Pember, G., 'Notes on 7mm Scale Modelling' Part 2, in Gauge O Guild Gazette, IV, 6, April 1970, pages 6-7). 

The GOG slide set dealing with and illustrating Pember's modelling is very informative (Gauge O Guild, 'Models by Geoff Pember', 1981). Amongst his railway models were complete scenes/set pieces that included highly accurate buildings, signals, etc. His locos and rolling stock were made with great care, and matched the full-sized locomotives as fully as possible. He created rivets by using small pins (and preferred entomological pins of a specific size). His fine work on signals has been acknowledged by inclusions in publications (see for instance Williams, G.R., 'The World of Model Trains', Andre Deutsch, London, 1970, page 204; Hornsey, P. [ed.], 'An introduction to model railways', New English Library, London, 1977, pages 78-79). The latter book also shows a GE crossing keeper's house at page 73. After photos of the LNER coach below, we illustrate the meticulous care Geoff Pember took over representing features in the GER railway environment; in this case two small seats.

The model shown below dates from 1950, and was included in the slides taken for the Gauge O Guild.







 Illustrations OC45a-OC45e.  Coach made by Geoff Pember using bakelite. Pember was regarded by some enthusiasts in the postwar decades as the most impressive and accurate of all the UK's 7mm modellers, but does not fall within the 'commercial category' that is our central focus. His modelling work was outlined in an excellent Gauge O Guild slide set now on disk ('Models by Geoff Pember', 15, 1981), introduced by Jack Ray and with full commentary by Pember himself.

Pember described and showed this coach, a bogie brake, when Jack Ray made the slide collection mentioned above. The aim for the coach seems to have been to try laminated bakelite as a possible way of representing varnished and weathered teak. The roof is of wood. I bought this model on ebay because I wanted an example of this type of coach from the vintage or 'late vintage' period. I then discovered its historical significance, and feel privileged to have it.





Illustrations OC46a-OC46c.  These two Great Eastern Railway seats were advertised on ebay very soon after the coach had appeared, and were identified as also having been made by Pember. The lighting has been unsuccessful for my third photograph, but the second one shows quite well the intricacy and care of the detailed construction. If correctly attributed, these seats are very likely highly accurate scale models.



'R' Models of Cheltenham       

This firm produced some very interesting coaches using wood for the bases but cardboard for the sides, and perspex windows, etc. These must have been economical to make in materials terms, yet they were surprisingly sturdy and had excellent artwork. Collectors of more modern coach models might like to make comparisons with Newman's coaches (which are quite highly regarded today).






Illustrations OC50a-OC50d.  The first two pictures show features of a standard coach type, and the bottom photo shows a luggage section on another coach. The third picture is of the firm's label (magnified), on the underside of one of these coaches. It was also applied to wagons.











Illustrations OC52a-OC52f  Many thanks to the enthusiast who sent me these images of a large and impressive 'R' Models dining car. Its original Leeds wheels have been replaced with more modern ones.

I am also grateful to him for the information that the proprietor of 'R' models was himself a railwayman at Cheltenham.



 W and H        

This firm operated as a model railway retailer from its London premises over a very long period and into relatively recent times. It also sold its own products and seems to have made both locos and rolling stock in the pre-war years. I do not know whether the company also did this in the early decades after the war, but that is certainly possible. Coaches seem to have been offered in the inter-war years in Gauge One, 0 gauge and 00 gauge. Single illustrations may be found for Gauge One and 00 in The Model Railway News of June 1933 (9, 102, page 160), and in Beal, E., 'Scale Railway Modelling Today' (A.& C. Black Ltd., London, 1939, opposite page 198). The reputation of the firm's 1930s products seems to have been very high (see commentary by Hamilton Ellis at pages 124-125, in 'Model Railways; 1838-1939', Allen & Unwin, London, 1962), although some items may have been made by outside contractors. In the 1930s, Walkers and Holtzapffel appear to have had both a 'coach shop' and a 'loco shop' of their own, making models (see advertisement reproduced below). The approach to production looked highly distinctive for the period, as the firm was making full coach sets to order, representing specific trains. There is no indication of prices below, but my guess is that their commissioned coach models would have been very expensive.

After the advertisement mentioned above we show some pictures of Walker and Holtzapffel 0 gauge LMS coach details. The vehicles drawn on here are believed to be from the 1930s, and seem to have been built to quite an exceptional standard for their time. They were part of a large group (comprising at least nine differing items), that came to the excellent Executor and Trustee service of the Gauge 0 Guild, but it is possible that the original commission to Walkers & Holtzappfel was for more rolling stock than that. Perhaps the full set was originally designed to allow its owner to run trains that matched a couple of the full-sized ones running on the LMS at the time, although I have no information to verify this. I currently have three examples of the ordinary coaches, all of which were in a very distressed condition when I bought them, primarily through loss of glazing but also with other minor problems from long use. Repairs and renovation are under way as far as time allows. In addition, I hope later to show a postal vehicle and one of the two sleeping cars (a twelve-wheeler) that the set included. The group sold in 2019 also included a dining/restaurant car, a kitchen car, a full brake, and a shorter sleeping car, but I do not currently have any further information on those. The vehicles were fitted with lighting, and seem to have had adapted Bond's bogies when built. These bogies were in some cases changed by an owner later on for Bassett-Lowke ones, and the latter were mostly converted for two-rail finescale running. Since these changes, a friend has re-fitted Bond's bogies (albeit of a later type) to two of my vehicles, bringing them closer to what they would have originally been like. It appears that the set was initially for a three-rail coarse/standard scale layout. Although the 00 versions of Walkers & Holtzappfel coaches were captioned by Beal as being "All-Metal", these gauge 0 ones have wooden floors. 



 Illustration OC60a.  Walkers & Holtzapffel advertisement of August 1936; the firm was selling complete trains of coaches. See The Model Railway News, 12, 140, page vi.




Illustrations OC60b and OC60c. When I purchased this coach it had sustained damage to its glazing, but its bodywork and interior were still in a fairly good state. The bogies are Bond's ones that were amended, presumably when they were fitted by W & H. More recently they were altered by the then owner to accommodate fine-scale wheels.



Illustration OC60d. Body construction characteristics shown on a second coach. These vehicles were designed to come apart, and each coach end has had two small holes drilled through it, probably to allow screws or pins to make contact with the ends of the interior wood floor. The building material seems to be brass, and the glass for windows was glued into place.



Illustration OC60e.  Interior construction of coach, showing metalwork complemented by wooden section dividers, and 'Mills-style' bulbs linked up for the lighting. My photo here has not turned out very well, and I hope to do a better one later. Most of the coaches in this set had been fitted with Bassett-Lowke bogies, replacing the original Bond's-based ones.



 Illustration OC60f.  Detail of one of these coaches below the body. Unusually complex for the 1930s, but the maker nonetheless used wood for the box shapes (just as Milbro and Exley were doing in this period). The buffers were also constructed in a more complex way than was usual at that time.





Illustrations OC60g-OC60i.  A third coach from the set. Each vehicle was different. I think this is a very convincing model for its period. Many thanks to Brian Cain for helping restore this coach. The middle picture has turned out a little too light in colour!

 WandHlnwrREV1Illustration OC60j  Another of the firm's advertisements, in The Model Railway News, September 1937, 13, 153, page xii.



Windsor Model Company


Locomotives made by this firm are discussed in another part of our site, where it has been possible to say something about the company's building practices as far as model engines were concerned. There is less to go on when trying to describe their coaches (or wagons), but an enthusiast has sent me pictures that make a very good starting point. Verification of origins with Windsor rolling stock is likely to be more difficult than for Milbro or Exley, and there seem to be few published examples beyond their catalogue pictures. McCrindell's superbly illustrated book, "The collector's all-colour guide to Toy Trains", includes a photograph of a 6-wheeled guard's van of the Southern Railway. The caption there comments that this was "thought to be" by the Windsor Model Co., and from the mid-1930s. It had been acquired along with a rake of similar SR passenger bogie vehicles - "most attractive cars" - that were "well made of wood with some card application, and with imaginative painted detail and fittings" (McCrindell, R., Salamander Books, London, 1985, pages 102-103). I am informed by the enthusiast who has provided pictures of his SR coaches below that the UK's leading specialist museum covering our field (the Brighton Toy and Model Museum) has what sounds like a similar set of coaches on display. My informant has very helpfully sent me his 'visitor's photo' of that set (which forms our first illustration below).  There is another relevant colour image in P. G. Gomm's book, "Older Locomotives (1900-42)", (Troy Model Club Series, Nelson, London, 1970). This is opposite page 37, but unfortunately only half a 6-wheeler can be seen in a fairly small photograph (albeit alongside a most interesting Exley model of a steam railcar !).



Illustration OC70.  One of the displays at the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Thanks are due for this photo to the informant who also supplied me with the coach pictures below, and the catalogue pages shown in Illustrations OC71a and OC71b.




Illustrations OC71a and OC71b.  Two pages from Windsor's catalogue produced in or around 1930, with information on their range of coaches. The firm aimed to represent specific items from the full-sized railways 







Illustrations OC71c-OC71f. Four pages from the 1932 catalogue.





Illustrations OC72a-OC72c. This Southern Railway 1st/3rd coach is believed to have been made by Windsor Model Company. I am grateful to the owner of this vehicle and the one below for providing the photographs. The finish and lining are very attractive, and the overall style and look of the prototype have been captured very well.  






Illustrations OC73a-OC73c.  An impressive effort has been made here to model an unusual prototype. As with the example immediately above, this coach seems to be from the Windsor Model Company (although it is currently hard to verify this with complete certainty in the absence of documentation). Many thanks to the enthusiast who has let me show the pictures.