Sunday, April 23, 2006


T.C.S. Newsletter - "LONE STAR DAY" - by Clive Gehle

Train Collectors Society - Spring News (circa April 2006)
"This year (actually 2005) there were two major changes to the annual Lone Star Day (held for the past four years at the Mill Green Museum near Hatfield, Herts), in both the venue and the time allocated, both of which are significant improvements.

Mill Green Museum decided that they could no longer accommodate the growing number of exhibitors and visitors that the event drew and withdrew the Sunday afternoon normally offered to us, but faced with the prospect of calling off the event, Geoff Ambridge (author of the Bumper Lone Star Book of Models and son of Lone Star co-founder Sidney Ambridge), put out a call via his Lone Star e-group for anyone who could offer a space for the event. To the rescue came Dennis Voller, who offered the Whitewebbs Museum of Transport in Enfield, as an alternative venue, and what a magnificent venue it was too! Located in an old [water] pumping station, the building, staffed and run entirely by volunteers like Dennis, has a wonderful collection of motor vehicles (private and commercial), motorbikes, bicycles, models, toys and war-time ephemera over four floors [passenger lift to three of the floors]. In the huge rear courtyard, the old Enfield Chase Station has been [transplanted and] re-erected and houses a gift shop and classic car spares shop, a '00' gauge layout runs in a converted rail carriage and there was even a showman's organ blasting out stirring tunes throughout the day!

The majority of the exhibitors were in the ground floor surrounded by old fire engines, cars and lorries, a 1950s jukebox played hits of the 1950s and '60s taking us back to the era when Lone Star turned out their vast range of toys, including the 000 railway. 000 was somewhat depleted this year, as neither Malcolm Brunger nor Eric Large were able to attend, and we missed their 'push-along' Lone Star Locos and mixed Locos / Impy / Treble-0-Lectric layouts respectively. However, Martin Doubleday was making a welcome appearance with his incredible Treble-0-Lectric layout well known from many T.C.S. events, and his more recently created 'push-along' layout. This is well up to the high standard we expect from Martin, with its elevated section and enough sidings and pointwork for the busiest marshalling yard! Some very nice models were on show including the Blue F7 U.S. Union Pacific Diesel which Martin chose as one of his 'Desert Island Trains' (TCS News No. 127) a red "Impy" Princess, a "Locos" Jinty in an unusual brown livery and a "Locos" Princess and tender in a darker blue than is normal.

Bernie Cook had something really unusual, a Treble-0-Trains / Impy layout running on battery power, utilising six x 1.2 rechargeable nicad batteries, these fit into the coaches (4 in each) or into a U.S. box car (2 in each). The 'push-along' F7 diesels had modified Bachmann chassis fitted to counteract the weight of the batteries - the batteries are charged using a subminiature jacksocket. It was very odd to see the normally unpowered push trains making their slow and stately circuit of the oval layout, running on plastic track. The only problem, according to Bernie, is that the batteries cannot cope with any gradients. Several ex-Lone Star employees attending the show were very taken with this layout, perhaps if Lone Star had adopted this method who knows if the range would have survived longer?

Next to Bernie was specialist Lone Star dealer, Roger Cox, with a mouth-watering range of stock to prise open those wallets! The *Star* item was undoubtedly a boxed "Locos" U.S. Coach in the never-before-seen yellow Union Pacific livery, a real one-off that commanded a high price (£200) and was bought by a new Lone Star collector, and what a first item for a collection! Although as Martin Doubleday ruefully remarked "I started collecting Lone Star because it was cheap!" Amongst other traders were Eddie Kilmurry with an amazing array of Lone Star / D.C.M.T. / Crescent Toys (no trains) and Ken Woodcock with an excellent general stock.

It was a truly international day as Donald Troost from the Netherlands turned up with copies of his latest edition of the Lone Star 000 catalogue. Donald has listed so many variations that the catalogue runs now to three volumes with the newly-added colour photos section (Vol 3.) eagerly awaited in the *New Year [sic.]. Donald's stock was rapidly snapped up. Donald was accompanied by Hans Muller, a collector from Switzerland, whose luggage was somewhat heavier when he left after making the rounds of the traders! I, [Clive Gehle], was selling some surplus stock and had on display the full range of N.H. Boxcars (apart from the common blue and orange, they also appeared in rare green and yellow).

Whitewebbs [Museum of Transport] has food available and a licenced bar where many ex-Lone Star employees foregathered, and they gave some wonderful insights into the production process that created these ground-breaking toys. My brown plastic track in the style of Treble-0-Trains but longer and without the Lone Star trademark, which I had hoped was a rare prototype and which Martin and I puzzled over, was quickly identified as a 'pirate' copy. . .oh well! In contrast to the two hours we were allowed at Mill Green Museum near Hatfield, the exhibition opened from 10am to 4pm, we were allowed to pack down at our leisure, and there are some very good pubs nearby, [the 'King & Tinker' and 'The Plough'] and with 2006's Lone Star Day already confirmed by Whitewebbs Museum of Transport (Sunday, 24th September) all that remained was to stop off on the way home for a quick pint, and to raise a glass to the late Stuart Goss, the man who created Lone Star 000 and to whom British "N" Gauge owes a huge debt, as also do we who have such fun enjoying the wonderful trains he created.

Anyone wishing to exhibit or sell [Lone Star items] at Whitewebbs Museum for the 2006 Lone Star Day, please contact me [Clive Gehle] on 020 7836 7119 or e-mail:

*The supposed 'New Year' date is likely to be around the end of this month (April, 2006)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The former stately home, 'Whitewebbs' house and the adjoining golf course of the same name, are also situated on the same side of Whitewebbs Road, probably less than a quarter-of-a-mile east of Whitewebbs Museum of Transport (Red-brick pumping station), but please be advised that the House is not part of the Museum.

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