History of the Guild

A Brief History of the Gauge O Guild.

The changing face of the Guild through the years from the first newsletter to the Gazette of today

The story of popular O gauge begins between the two world wars. It was pioneered during the 1920s and 1930s by Hornby and Bassett-Lowke. Following the second world war in the late 40s and early 50s there was a considerable amount of equipment from these two manufacturers available on the second-hand market at a very reasonable cost plus for a while at least new production. Producers of parts such as CCW and Mills were also still in action. The model/toy trade generally however moved decisively into `OO` to accommodate smaller houses and a wider popular market. By 1960 the production of and the market for O gauge was rapidly being lost and there was grave danger of the scale disappearing or at least becoming the preserve of the favoured few.

Letters appeared in the model press urging O gauge modellers to get together and form an association to further the cause. A Mr Loch-Kidston did much writing, but it was left to Harold Bower to arrange an initial meeting, with attendant publicity, to bring together O gauge enthusiasts. The first meeting took place in railway owned offices in Euston Square, London. Around twenty people turned out and the Gauge 0 Guild came into being in August 1956 with Jack Ray as Chairman; John Blair as Treasurer and Harold Bower as Secretary. George Hinchcliffe took on board Trade Liaison and Jim Fraser undertook to produce a newsletter and deal with publicity.

An initial capital of £25 was raised to get the Guild off the ground and the principal stated aim was to convince the trade that there was still a viable market for the scale. An early success was to persuade Bonds to make a new mould for their rail chairs and within a year they had sold over a million!

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s 7mm modelling continued to grow modestly and slowly the trade responded with an ever-increasing range of bits and pieces. Two landmarks must surely be the Triang Big Big Train Hymek and (short) Mark 2 coaches followed by the Lima class 33 diesel, LMS class 4F and Mark 1 coaches and 16t mineral wagons (albeit to 1/45 scale). O gauge was once again both available and affordable. The introduction of plastic kits, notably from Slaters, continued to make the scale more accessible.

During the 1990s the etched kit business really took off and the 21st century sees O gauge firmly established with a range of kits and components, plastic, resin and lost wax castings covering every aspect of 7mm railway modelling. More recently traders such as Bachmann and Skytrex have started to offer ready to run equipment. A visit to Guildex at Telford each year gives a choice of over 150 traders offering almost everything the 0 gauge modeller could possibly want.

The Gauge O Guild itself provides members with a quality quarterly magazine, an in-house newsletter, probably the best technical manual on railway modelling that is available, three exhibitions a year and a membership of friendly expertise shared between beginner and expert, young and old.