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."

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Survey Result 000-gauge items planned but never made

Please accept Mr. Denis Eagles' apologies for the delay in bringing a conclusion to the survey that has been ongoing since May-June this year. I received word from him (bearing in mind that he was the Managing Director of Eaglet Industries Ltd. [a subsidiary of Lone Star Products Ltd.]) on 20th July after having sought the benefit of his advice and observations on the above proposition. This is the essence of what he had to say:
"I'm sure you will appreciate that my prime concern in business was always whether a course of action would ultimately prove profitable for the company I worked for. If I did not have personal confidence nor was able to give reasonable assurances of success to the powers-that-be, then the project and necessary expenditure for its development would not be forthcoming.
Enthusiasts appear to work according to a different perspective insofar as the value of any item depends more upon the desires of a limited number of collectors in a particular field rather than an overall market demand. I have tried to get some feel of the answers to your survey (12 respondents) however, their answers only seem to express views on the particular aspects that interest them, not on the total gambit of their opinion of the demand and construction of further 'Lone Star Treble-0' stock.
I really find it very hard to work up enthusiasm for the chances of getting this project 'off the ground'. You have circulated, in your estimation, some 300 individuals and you have some 12 replies which are so vague as to be impossible to evaluate. To my mind, I see there as being two potential types of customer:- (1.) The serious collector of genuine 000 stock, who will only be prepared to purchase additional products made to the same standard and authenticity (i.e. from original designs) to compliment his existing collection. (2.) The other is a collector who wants to improve and compliment their existing layout and isn't too fussed about authenticity provided that the article looks the part and 'fits in'.
For the first of these there is no answer, because the cost of making 'original' products on such a small scale (quantity-wise) would be out of the question. However for the second type of collector, the best hope would be to find an enthusiast with good modelling skills who could make reproduction 'static' pieces at a modest cost to compliment and expand existing layouts. Such a person would need to be prepared to work for the love of the craft and not expect any real financial reward for his efforts and, I would think, would be almost impossible to find."
Best regards,
Geoff Ambridge (per pro. Denis W. Eagles)
(Both formerly of Lone Star Products Ltd./D.C.M.T. Ltd.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


(Most asked) Questions and Answers

Q. Where were Lone Star's factories located and do any survive today?

A. From about 1946, the "Lone Star" (Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd.) factory, called "The River Works", was located at 152 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, North London. These premises were sold around 1981-82 to a chemist's sundries company. The buildings, used by the other trade, still survive today. However, two other factories; one at Hatfield (the largest of the three and originally built from scratch) and another at nearby Welham Green, Hertfordshire, both acquired in the mid and late 1950s were, some thirty years later, sold, demolished and their former sites are now redeveloped.

Q. 'Lone Star' Products were well-known for their model cars, trucks and trains. What else did they manufacture?

A. The Company originally acquired a degree of fame, from 1949, for its die-cast, cap-firing, metal pistols and rifles which were mainly 'Western' (or Cowboy) in their theme. The firm also produced unbreakable plastic figures, known as 'Harvey' Series, generally thought of as being '00'-scale and manufactured an infinite variety of these figures, both 'on foot' and 'mounted' between 1957-69. (See: "The Bumper Book of 'Lone Star' diecast models and toys 1948-88")

Q. Presumably, many of Lone Star's models and toys are in the hands of collectors nowadays. Where can I see examples of these?

A. Yes! Many do form useful collections around the country (and the world. .) but a wide selection of these items can be viewed at Lone Star's annual Collectors' exhibition held at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, near Enfield, Middlesex, (U.K.). Photos of the museum can be viewed on: For those who have a Lone Star collection, large or small, and would like to display it to the public, this can be done without any charge to the would-be exhibitor. By 'clicking' the above 'link' you can find out the next exhibition date and all necessary details including a road map of the North Enfield district. The nearest Train station: Crews Hill (within 5 minutes' walking distance) [King's Cross, London - Hertford North, line].

Q. Do any original documents of 'Lone Star' Products survive for anyone wishing to research the Company and, if so, where can they be viewed?

A. Mill Green Museum, just north of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, [Tel: +44 (01707) 271362] holds many original documents relating to the Company. These include some technical drawings of models, numerous trade catalogues and Minute books of Directors' meetings 1944-83 to mention just a few. The Museum Curator will be able to specify which other 'Lone Star' documents are held at Mill Green. The Department of Trade and Industry, Companies House, Dissolution Section, Crown Way, CARDIFF, CF14 3UZ, (U.K.) [Tel: +44 (029) 20380854] can provide 'microfiche' images of any of D.C.M.T.'s documents formerly submitted to the D.T.I. pre-October 1983 (Quote ref. DISS/363003).

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