Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 17:44 UK

Hornby opens archive to visitors in Margate

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Hornby opens archive to visitors

Visitors to Kent are set to be taken on a journey through modern history at the home of one of the world's most prestigious transport model makers.

Hornby, which is famous for making miniature railway sets, is sharing its archive with the public.

It is opening a visitor centre at its Margate base on Saturday, which is likely to attract enthusiasts from all over the world.

Hornby hopes the attraction will help establish Thanet as a tourist area.

The visitor centre will house not only its archive of trains and railway layouts dating back to the 1920s but also those of the other toy and model manufacturers it has acquired over the years, including Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi.

Operations director Nick Cole said visitors would be able to trace the development of model trains, cars and aeroplanes from the original clockwork metal shells to the sophisticated electrically-powered replicas that modern children - and their parents - have come to know.

"The oldest is a clockwork 'O-gauge' Hornby train made in Liverpool in 1921," he said.

"It's a bit battered because it was played with a lot."

First Airfix model

The model was donated by the Lines family that once owned Tri-ang, which became part of the Hornby empire. Others have been loaned by collectors.

However, much of the collection, which will be changed every few months, has been with Hornby since its creation, from the development of Meccano Ltd.

It also includes the archives of the model car and plane manufacturers it has bought since, including the very first Airfix model, a Ferguson tractor.

Visitors to the centre, on the Westwood industrial estate in Margate, will also see collections of some of the latest products, including some not yet in full production.

Hornby said it would be limiting visitor numbers and people will have to apply for tickets.

The exhibition will be open on Saturday, 3 July, and Sunday, 4 July, and will also be available on Fridays from next week.

Mr Cole said: "We are trying to do this as part of promoting Thanet as a visitor destination, to encourage people to maybe stay overnight and visit other places of interest, such as [Margate's] Turner Centre, Quex Park and the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston."



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