The British O gauge tinplate revival began in 1993 when Ron Budd suggested making a reproduction of the Hornby 4-4-4 tank loco in electric. In 1995 when the initial 4-4-4 was ready to go into production, company now called "ACE Trains" was founded by Allen and Charlotte Levy. Production was initially based in Taiwan, then Thailand and then later Bangkok. ACE Trains founding shareholders were and still are Allen and Charlotte Levy. The company was originally named Allchem Trains Ltd, Allen, Charlotte and Emily latterly abbreviated to ACE Trains Ltd. The first locomotive in the ACE Trains project was the E/1 based on the original Hornby clockwork 4-4-4 with over 1,000 models being manufactured between 1996 and 1997 in a variety of colourful liveries. As British Railway Modelling magazine reported in February, 2006: "It may come as a surprise to learn that over the ensuing years ACE Trains not only produced many more locomotives (including an A4 and A3), but have also produced well over 20,000 coaches - not bad for revivalist tinplate". The A4 Pacific, the A3 Pacific and Castle Class were cast bodied locomotives; and similarly built Duchess class locomotives took O gauge revivalist tinplate to new heights not dreamt of by the early toy train pioneers of the 20th Century. Semi proto-typical production now sits in the mainstream with an increasing following for British style locomotives and trains not only in the UK but around the world. Not so much a niche market anymore but a growing market segment for the global model railway fraternity.
Since 2008 all ACE Trains products have been manufactured in Australia, China and the Czech Republic.
The Britannia Pacifics were some of the first 4-6-2 locomotives to emerge under British Railway's (BR) new locomotive build standardisation programme. Their design emanated from the Great Interchange Trials of 1948 and they conjured up images of a new powerful main-line steam locomotive in modern BR livery that took their names from a grand history of great Britons. The Britannias were designed for mixed traffic duties and for fast-running heavy passenger trains on BR's network. The class incorporated the best practices of the old 'Big Four' railway companies and was considered to be among some of the most successful locomotives to be built in Britain. A total of 55 locomotives were built in three batches - No: 70000 Britannia the first of the class being completed at Crewe works in January 1951. Britannias were mainly allocated to BR Eastern and Western Regions but the initial batch of locomotives were delivered to BR Southern Region.
Running out of London Victoria station the class became synonymous with the prestigious Dover Marine and Folkestone bound 'Golden Arrow' Pullman service. A pair of Britannia's was stationed at Stewarts Lane - No: 70014 Iron Duke and No: 70004 William Shakespeare - which were always kept in pristine condition and turned out immaculately. Their core duty was a glamorous one hauling the Golden Arrow which included seven new Pullman cars - a suspended pre-war order that were built as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. The two Britannias were also used for other continental boat trains such as the heavyweight 'Night Ferry' service. Britannia No: 70030 William Wordsworth was also loaned to Dover to ensure cross channel Night Ferry train could be run in both directions daily until Merchant Navy class locomotives took over duties. Both No: 70014 Iron Duke and No: 70004 William Shakespeare were eventually transferred to the BR Midland Region in 1958 but their external condition was to quickly deteriorate.
Elsewhere on the Southern Region to coincide with the Festival of Britain a new named express service christened the 'Royal Wessex' was introduced in the summer of 1951 on the Waterloo to Bournemouth, Swanage and Weymouth lines. Hauled by No: 70009 Alfred the Great, the Royal Wessex service used the latest new BR Mk1 blood and custard coaching stock. The Royal Wessex service was later to be headed by West Country and Battle of Britain Light Pacifics but retained the Mk1 stock and Bulleid restaurant and tavern cars throughout the 1950s whilst other express services on the line predominantly used existing Bullied and earlier Maunsell stock. No: 70009 Alfred the Great also hauled the 'Bournemouth Belle' Pullman service before being replaced by Pacifics.
Some 15 Britannias were allocated to BR Western Region which was initially received without any real degree of enthusiasm. However, Cardiff Canton drivers gradually took to them and began to put up performances that Castles would not be ashamed of. Typically, No: 70025 Western Star and No: 70024 Vulcan could be seen regularly hauling the 'Red Dragon' from Swansea, Carmarthen and Paddington between 1953 and 1961 whilst No: 70015 Apollo hauled the 'Pembroke Coast Express'. From 1957 all Western Region Britannias were concentrated at the Cardiff shed and integrated into South Wales based Western Region express routes. In 1959 No: 70020 Mercury could be seen heading up the Cardiff - Paddington 'Capitals United Express' service. Inter-regional work was often handled by Cardiff based locomotives such as No: 70022 Tornado heading south to north expresses.
All BR Western Region Britannias were ultimately transferred to BR London Midland Region in September 1961. Typically, No: 70045 Lord Rowallan assisted with the heavy weight Euston - Holyhead 'Irish Mail' service whilst No: 70042 Lord Roberts could be seen with Manchester bound services such as 'The Palatine' in the 1960s. From the early 1950s Britannia Pacifics found much favour on BR's Eastern Region based at Liverpool Street with No: 70001 Lord Hurcombe heading the Norwich bound services of 'Norfolkman' whilst No: 70002 Geoffrey Chaucer and Stratford shed based No: 70016 Ariel took up the 'Hook Continental' boat train. No: 70007 Coeur-de-Lion could be seen hauling the 'Hook Continental' and also 'The Broadsman'.
No: 70016 Ariel was the first BR locomotive to receive the late crest insignia in June 1956 being displayed with its new modern livery at Marylebone station. Other Britannias quickly followed; No: 70004 William Shakespeare of Stewart's Lane and No: 70023 Venus of Old Oak Common and No: 70048 to ensure the new look BR identity could be seen around the country at the earliest opportunity. The abilities of the Britannia class locomotives for mixed traffic work were clearly evident across the network towards the end of steam. No: 70004 William Shakespeare in August 1966 was used to haul northbound Fyffes banana van trains out of Southampton Docks.
As a mixed traffic locomotive the ACE Britannias can be run with a variety of coaches and freight wagons. The early and late crest Britannias will look superb running with the new BR Mk 1 and BR (S) Bulleid coaches. Available late summer 2014.
This enigmatic class of locomotive known as 'Cities' were originally conceived by William Dean but further developed by George Jackson (G.J.) Churchward. Their design encompassed a look and feel that came to epitomise the Great Western Railway (GWR) in the early part of the 20th century. An initial batch of ten 4-4-0 class locomotives was built to provide high-speed express passenger services principally between Paddington, the Midlands, South Wales, Bristol and the West of England. GWR already had plans to create non-stop running further west to Plymouth using the Pylle Hill loop to capitalise on burgeoning liner traffic between Europe and North America. In addition, GWR saw an opportunity to 'clean up' by constructing a large harbour at Fishguard (which could accommodate three liners at a time) by coaxing Cunard and White Star from their existing home bases at Liverpool.
GWR wanted to maximise their successful experience of meeting passengers and mail off liners in Plymouth which they had been doing so since the mid-1890s. The New York and Plymouth route was considered the quickest North Atlantic crossing (although Fishguard was nearer by 55 miles) but GWR faced stiff competition with the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) for Plymouth landed traffic and also liner traffic for their developing Southampton port operation. With fast steamers now regularly stopping off at Plymouth, GWR's imperative was to build a new generation of fast, high-performing locomotives that could bring passengers (and lucrative mail traffic) to London saving (at the time) almost half a day's ocean passage over docking further east.
City class 4-4-0s were involved in a series of very fast runs during 1903 and 1904. On 9th April 1904 No: 3442 City of Exeter ran the 75.6 miles from Exeter to Bristol in 65 minutes 24 seconds. A month later on 9th May No: 3440 City of Truro (a true Great Western hero and best known engine) was involved in the 'Record of Records' and its place in railway folklore with the Ocean Mail Special - the first regular service to achieve a record breaking run of 100 miles per hour. This particular train comprised five heavily-laden double-bogie eight-wheeled postal vans carrying gold bullion and was estimated to have weighed some 148 tons excluding locomotive and tender. Despite this loading City of Truro worked the record speed downhill at Wellington bank in the first half of the run to Bristol where mail was separated. At Bristol No: 3065 Duke of Connaught, one of Dean's single wheelers then continued the train to London Paddington completing the 246.5 mile journey in 3 hours, 46 minutes and 45 seconds. When combined with German liner Kronprinz Willhelm's record transatlantic crossing, this had brought New York and London together in record breaking times by a combination of ship and train.
Although the Mauretania had sailed from Fishguard when it first opened as early as 30th August 1906, it was not until 1909 that Cunard started using the port's new facilities regularly with up to eight liner crossings per month requiring three to four special boat trains to accommodate each ship's call. Double headed City class 4-4-0s frequently headed heavy first class passenger special services known as the 'Ocean Express' to and from the port to Paddington. This position was not to last unfortunately as Fishguard lost its liner traffic to Plymouth and Southampton (who were in a better position to service European travellers from Cherbourg and Le Havre) as the result of WW1. GWR's considerable investment in developing Fishguard as a port was further compromised by its inability to attract the same volumes of passengers and commercial traffic across the channel to Ireland. Despite building four fast turbine ships in 1905/06 named after saints and considered to be well-equipped, comfortable vessels more akin to miniature ocean liners, GWR very simply could not match London & North Western Railway's (LNWR) long-established and competitive 'Holyhead Route' to Dublin.
The 'Cities' enjoyed a comparatively long-life but all members of the class were eventually withdrawn between October 1927 and May 1931 apart from City of Truro which was retained for the national collection as the country's first ton-up locomotive at York Railway Museum. In 1957 British Railway's (BR) Western Region arranged for City of Truro to be transferred from static display at York to Swindon where she was restored to her former glories and original GWR livery. She ran on very popular specials but was also used for regular services on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton route before being retired to BR Swindon in 1961 and later returned to the National Railway Museum (NRM) at York. In 2004, City of Truro underwent a second period of restoration and is currently on loan from the NRM to the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway.
The ACE Trains version captures the essence of the times and comes with double ETS motors, two clutches and 44 mm driving wheels. 2/3 rail 24 Volt DC. Available from October 2014.
The Standard 9F 2-10-0 class is considered by many to have been the most successful and trouble-free of all standard designed locomotives of the British Railways (BR) era. The 9F class were extremely powerful locomotives and became the last in a series of standardised locomotives produced by BR in the 1950s. A total of 251 locomotives were produced by Robert Riddles following preparatory design work in both Derby and Brighton works. Class 9Fs represented the ultimate in British steam engine technology and were built in 11 batches with construction shared between BR's Crewe (198) and Swindon (53) works. The 9F class, one of the largest classes of locomotives to be built in Britain, entered service in 1954 but regrettably railway modernisation saw to it that many of them had very short working lives - some lasting only five years of service.
Primarily intended for use on fast, heavy weight freight trains covering long distances, 9Fs despite their small driving wheels also undertook extensive mixed traffic and express passenger duties as they were able to demonstrate a good turn of speed. Due to design versatility the class was seen across the BR network; 9Fs were distributed evenly throughout London Midland, Eastern and Western regions with just a few on Southern metals but none based north of the border. 9Fs were particularly adept on fast turnaround freight services as they were able to complete round trips within the designated eight-hour shift of the footplate crew. The 2-10-0 wheel arrangement provided extra adhesion for heavy freight duties especially those handling loose-coupled mineral trains of up to 1,000 tons or more.
No: 92220 Evening Star entering service on 18th March 1960 was the last of the 9F class but also the very last steam locomotive to be built by BR at the Swindon works. Due to its celebrity status Evening Star was turned out in BR Brunswick Green livery normally reserved for express passenger traffic. When only five years old Evening Star was withdrawn from service following an accident and joined the National Collection's preservation class. Evening Star and Nos: 92214 and 92245 were three of a group of 9F class locomotives that performed sterling work on the Somerset and Dorset line pulling an almost endless procession of holiday expresses to and from South Coast resorts. The powerful 9Fs were well suited to coping with 1 in 50 ruling gradient on the Bath extension which normally required double heading with many other locomotives. They were thus a frequent sight and particularly efficient with passenger traffic. Brunswick Green liveried Evening Star hauled Bournemouth bound regional expresses such as the 'Pines Express' during the summers of 1962 and 1963.
Most of the 9F class were painted in BR freight black without lining. In September 1982 preserved No: 92203 Black Prince, set the record for the heaviest train to be hauled by a steam locomotive in this country and hauled a 2,178 ton train out of the Somerset quarry field. Evening Star and Black Prince were two of nine 9F class of locomotives that survived the cutter's torch in Barry when they were gradually withdrawn from service over a four year period from May 1964 until June 1968. Nos: 92134, 92207, 92212, 92214, 92219, 92240 and 92245 spent between 11 and 20 years in the scrapyard before they were acquired for preservation projects making the 9F one of the more numerous classes of steam locomotives now found working heritage and mainline railways.
As a mixed traffic locomotive the ACE 9F will look brilliant with a variety of coaches and freight wagons. Late crest Britannias will look superb running with the new BR Mk 1 and BR (S) Bulleid coaches. Available Spring onwards 2015.
Sir William A. Stanier's Coronation and Duchess express passenger class were the most powerful locomotives ever to be built for the British railway network system. A total of 38 locomotives were produced between 1937 and 1948 - production interrupted by the war years - but built to work the fast express services between London Euston and Scotland.
The Princess Coronation class appeared in streamlined construction and were produced in two batches. The first five of the class were painted in Caledonian Railway blue with white horizontal stripes to match the coaching stock of the 'Coronation Scot' - an express service designed to cover the 401 mile journey between London and Glasgow in just 61/2 hours. The second batch of five streamlined locomotives sported the more traditional crimson lake livery with gilt horizontal stripes to match existing LMS stock but also for a planned new Coronation train comprising articulated coaches. A prototype was constructed for exhibition purposes in the United States but was never put into service due to the outbreak of war in 1939. Streamlined casing was removed from 1946 onwards including being re-equipped ultimately with rounded smokeboxes. Former streamlined locomotives could be recognised by a sloping top to the front of the smokebox leading to the nickname of Semis or semi-streamlined with deflectors.
The first of the non-streamlined examples appeared in 1938 and became known as Duchess class locomotives or to railwaymen affectionately known as 'Big Lizzies'. Non-streamlined Duchesses were considered in some railway quarters to be 'extremely handsome' and took on a distinctly improved appearance when they were fitted with smoke deflectors, double chimneys and double blast-pipes from 1945 onwards. This enabled Duchesses to deal with exceptionally heavy work-loads; the record being up to 20 coaches where performance was measured at an average speed no lower than 62mph.
Duchess non-streamlined locomotives were extremely photogenic and were synonymous with hauling heavy coach formed expresses such the 'Royal Scot' for which they became the principal motive power. Although the 'Royal Scot' named service had been conferred by LMS in 1927, it was not until the BR era that locomotives regularly carried headboards on London Midland Region expresses. A number of styles were associated with 'The Royal Scot' from 1950; the first being a headboard that had a bright red background, white lettering for Royal Scot which incorporated a yellow shield depicting, in red, a Scottish lion rampant. The second style gave way to a Hunting Stewart tartan background design on a rectangular board with semi-circle ends and latterly, the more familiar arched version. Duchess class locomotives also regularly hauled a variety of other Euston based named trains up until they were steadily withdrawn between 1962 and 1964 including the Anglo-Scottish 'Caledonian' and other heavily ladened services such as 'The Irish Mail' and 'The Ulster Express'.
Three of the Duchess class locomotives have made it into preservation. No: 46229 Duchess of Hamilton was re-streamlined to her original LMS specification and livery in 2009 whilst No: 46233 Duchess of Sutherland has main line running capability. No: 46235 City of Birmingham is now in situ at Birmingham's Think Tank museum.
The Class 57XX 0-6-0 Pannier series of tank locomotive is the Great Western through and through. It provided the railway’s main shunting capacity and was seen all over the GWR network. Despite its size it remained a very iconic locomotive and was one of the most evocative sights on the GWR and later BR Western Region. They were so numerous and reliable that they lasted right up to the very last days of steam. The vast majority of the 863 locomotives built between 1929 and 1950 came from the Swindon works and represented the second most-produced class of steam locomotive to be built in these islands.
batches of the 57XX Class were almost identical replicas of earlier
rebuilt Pannier locomotives but significantly improved by Collett and
his GWR team. Given the eventual numbers of the 57XX Class locomotives
were spread across several series of numbers; some 25 per cent of them
were later built by private builders and outside contractors. Whilst
the Class 57XX was synonymous with earlier GWR and BR Western Region
settings it now represents a key part of the modern heritage railway
revival with some 16 locomotives including 6 ex-London Transport to
be found on lines around the country.
If you've an existing ACE Castle locomotive then you'll have four named train and destination code number boards combining GWR and BR eras including 'Cornish Riviera Express (130)', GWR's flagship service that was established as long ago as 1904, 'The Bristolian (473)', the high-speed West Country service introduced in 1935 to mark GWR's centenary, 'Torbay Express (146)', a pre WW1 service and 'The Red Dragon (720)', a BR Paddington to Camarthen service launched in 1950. The new ACE Castle will come with an additional new board 'The Cheltenham Flyer', the holder in 1923 of the fastest non-stop British Isles service.
As ever at Shamrock Trains we endeavour to provide a degree of extra value especially for those new to our wonderful hobby. There were four other GWR named train services that were regularly hauled by the Castle: the unique 'Ports-To-Ports Express' – a service that that linked Barry with Newcastle that went back to 1906 with a blend of mixed LNER and GWR mainline and non-corridor coach stock, The 'Cambrian Coast Express', a service dating from 1921 over the former Cambrian Railways metals that in the early years often saw a mixture of GWR, LNWR and Cambrian Railway coaching stock and in 1929 the GWR's first and only Pullman service the 'Torbay Pullman Limited'.
Interestingly, from the outset Castles were not exempt from non-passenger traffic duties since the GWR ran many regular fast freight services. It was not uncommon to find Castles pulling specialist named newspaper and parcels trains such as 'The Newspaper Express' and large freight trains with official timetable names like 'The Leek', The Flying Pig', 'The Pasty', The 'Rasher' etc so your Castle will be equally at home pulling a set of freight wagons, tankers and vans – what could be better?
In more recent times, there was a plethora of new BR Western Region named express services with specialist destination code boards including:
'The Inter City' 1950 service from Paddington to Wolverhampton, 'The Merchant Venturer (911)', a second crack express train service established in 1951 from Paddington to Bristol, the cross-country 1952 'Cornishman' service from Wolverhampton to Penzance, the fast 'Pembroke Coast Express (165)' boat train service set up in 1953 linking Pembroke Dock to Paddington, 'The South Wales Pullman (712)', new Paddington to Swansea Pullman service in 1955, 'Capitals United' linking the Principality in 1956 with a fast train to London and in 1957 the final three named train services - 'The Cathedrals Express', between Paddington, Worcester and Hereford, 'The Mayflower' running from Paddington to Plymouth and 'The Royal Duchy from Penzance to Paddington.
the Castle class locomotives can be run with a variety of earlier ACE
coaching stock, they can also be run with Darstaed Paddington based
Pullmans which includes the GWR Torbay Pullman Limited, the South Wales
Pullman in BR era and also from the same period, from time to time,
the Waterloo based Cunarder. As the Castles were extremely versatile
locomotives, the BR version can also be used with Darstaed BR Maroon
First introduced in Swindon in 1898 and produced up until 1910, these useful intermediate locomotives were viewed as somewhat old fashioned with their initial curved then straight double frames. However, they were reliable and capable of express, stopping train or freight work and appeared across large tracts of the GWR network except for ‘yellow’ or uncoloured routes. Despite the arrival of GWR’s lighter range of locomotives such as the Manors, Granges and Halls, WW2 provided the Bulldogs with an extended life right up to and beyond railway nationalisation.
Bulldogs saw out their days on secondary or branch lines such as former Cambrian rails, the former Midland & South Western Junction Railway and the sheds of Worcester, Hereford, Newton Abbot and Reading. Interestingly, between 1927 and 1930 the Bulldogs were rather bizarrely stripped of their names; according to GWR this was done ‘to avoid confusion with train destinations’. No. 3377 originally named Penzance was the only Bulldog to be repainted in BR livery – the remainder being run after nationalisation in their earlier GWR format. By 1951 all the Bulldogs had been withdrawn from service.
The ACE locomotives come with five separate name and cab number plates, namely: Orion, Sir Lancelot, Falmouth, Bulldog and Tregonthan. Four livery options are available.
This range of attractive ACE semi prototypical locomotive and tender will prove a valuable additional to mixed freight and passenger duties. They can be run with an increasing array of coaches and rolling stock offered by ACE, Darstaed and Hornby Bassett-Lowke. Black locomotive versions are priced at £325.00 whilst coloured gloss lined locomotives are available at £350.00 each (+P&P).