Wednesday, August 23, 2006


"Lone Star: Shining brightly" by G. S. Ambridge

The following was published in "Collector's Gazette" p.18, September '06 issue.
"In surprisingly rural surroundings, stands an imposing, red-brick, four storey building, a former water pumping station, but now - The Whitewebbs Museum of Transport. This is situated in 'leafy' Whitewebbs Road, probably less than a mile south of the M25 motorway, mid-way between Junctions 24 and 25. Jct 24 offers an uncongested rural route, via A1005 to Enfield; at Botany Bay village, follow signs to Crews Hill (Train Station: King's X - Hertford North, line).

Collectors of Lone Star diecast toys and models gathered together there last year to hold their annual exhibition and open day amid the museum's own magnificent collection of vintage and classic vehicles. Whitewebbs Museum also has its own spectacular collection of diecast model vehicles by several well-known manufacturers, including buses, trams and fire engines among many others, housed in glass-fronted cabinets on the museum's top floor.

Until and including the summer of 2004, Lone Star enthusiasts put on an annual display of their collections at Mill Green Museum near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Each year the event proved so popular that it outgrew the rather limited infrastructure of the Mill Green site. The limited three-hour time span in which to exhibit at Mill Green tended to dishearten anyone living a considerable distance away faced with the dilemma of whether or not it was worth the time and effort to make the journey. This applied particularly to people considering exhibiting Lone Star Treble-O gauge model trains, where their scenic layouts took some time to set up and later to dismantle.

So, it was rather 'a blessing in disguise' when the Lone Star exhibitors were regretfully informed that Mill Green Museum would no longer be able to accommodate them and their annual exhibition. The call was urgently put out to all the Lone Star enthusiasts who had earlier registered their interest via the dedicated Lone Star website: to hurriedly find and arrange an alternative venue at which to hold the annual exhibition - preferably one located in the south of England. Fortunately, Dennis Voller came to the rescue who happened to be the Events Co-ordinator at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, near Enfield, Middlesex. He made the welcome offer of a new home for the Lone Star exhibition where it could be held that year.

It will be held again this year on Sunday 24th September and, it's hoped, each September for the foreseeable future. As luck would have it, Crews Hill (with its railway station) is equi-distant between Lone Star's former factories at Palmers Green, North London, at Welham Green and, nearby, Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Ex-employees still living in the district can easily attend the event. It's sad to think that what, until the early 1980s, had been the Palmers Green factory and offices still survive, but occupied by another trade. There's much more to Lone Star products than meets the eye.

Probably not widely known, Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd. (the parent company of Lone Star Products) employed an out-of-work, ex-British Army, actor in 1952, namely Roy Green, and he was offered the opportunity to portray the role of an heroic, fictional Western character whom DCMT named Steve Larrabee, 'The Lone Star Rider'. His job was to promote sales of Western-themed products. He toured principal department stores around the UK demonstrating the company's wares. Roy also ran and participated in a Lone Star Road Show to a circuit of theatres around the country. His character had featured in the monthly Lone Star comic magazine and Roy had also made broadcasts of Western stories and plays on Radio Luxembourg.

DCMT had earlier sent Roy for a short time to California, to equip himself with authentic Western paraphernalia and to see for himself something of the American West. He trained himself to speak with a Texan 'drawl' when appearing in front of the public and, in 'uniform', he certainly looked and sounded like a genuine Cowboy from the American Wild West. Roy Green remained with the company until 1957, when he decided that he couldn't do any more with the Steve Larrabee character that he hadn't already done. Consequently, he handed in both his notice to DCMT and everything he had connected with the Larrabee character and, shortly afterwards, Roy and his wife emigrated to Canada. He became a US citizen in 1961. However, we recently received word that Roy Green had sadly passed away, aged 80, in Los Angeles, California, in October 2005.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star enthusiasts are keenly looking forward to their forthcoming exhibition at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport. All being well, there will be quite a showing of Lone Star Treble-O gauge model trains; it is anticipated probably four or five different scenic layouts. Also there will be a few traders dealing in Lone Star products. On display, toy pistols, vehicles and plastic figures. Any Lone Star enthusiast wishing to exhibit their collection to the general public on 24th September, should contact Clive Gehle on
Mobile: 07930 312531 or e-mail: Tables supplied by the museum. Open to the public: 10am to 4pm. Fuller details and a road map can be found on the website."

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