Lines Bros Ltd. was a British toy manufacturer of the 20th Century, operating under the Tri-ang brand name.
The brothers George and Joseph Lines made wooden toys in the Victorian age, their company being G & J Lines Ltd. Joseph was the active partner while George went into farming. Joseph (or Joe) had four sons. Three of these formed Lines Bros Ltd soon after World War One. These three were William, Walter and Arthur Edwin Lines. Three Lines making a triangle - hence Tri-ang. Arthur's son, Richard Lines, was largely responsible for the Tri-ang Railways system. At the start of the Second World War, production of children's toys was deemed non-essential by the British Government. As a result, production facilities were converted to weapons manufacture, specifically the Sten Mk III submachine gun. Manufacture of toys resumed shortly after the war ended.
At their peak they had 40 companies world-wide, but as a result of losses overseas they were in financial trouble. In 1971 Lines Bros. Ltd called in the Official Receiver. The Group was broken up and sold off. Rovex Tri-ang Ltd (which had the Hornby Railways among its portfolio) was Pocket Money Toys Ltd and then sold as Rovex Ltd, complete with its factories at Margate and Canterbury, to Dunbee Combex Marx Ltd. (DCM). G & R Wrenn a linked toy railway company bought itself free as Wrenn Railways. The name Tri-ang was sold off. As a result the Tri-ang Hornby system took the name Hornby Railways from January 1972.
Lines Bros had its own railway system, Tri-ang Railways. In 1964, Meccano Ltd., which manufactured the Hornby Dublo range collapsed. Tri-ang purchased the company, and the combined model railway was marketed as Tri-ang-Hornby although the vast majority of the models were all Tri-ang. Because the Hornby brand was more established and recognised, the Tri-ang part was dropped and model railway division was sold as Hornby Railways.
- Tri-ang Minic Narrow Gauge (garden) railways in 10 1/4" gauge.
- Railways systems (see above) in '00' and 'TT' gauges.
The British range of Tri-ang large scale pressed steel vehicles were produced from the early 1930's through until the mid 1970's. To the casual onlooker or collector in the world of old toys, these toys (not models!) are of no great interest, are crude by modern standards and only a few different types were ever made or so it would appear.
Everyone has seen the red-bonneted tipper lorry, the bonneted Shell tanker, breakdown lorry and the London Transport double decker bus. To most people this was all the range consisted of with a couple of cranes and a Puff Puff railway engine or two thrown in for good measure. The actual selection of pressed steel vehicles including the different types of cranes and trains consisted of over 200 different types. There were actually nine different series of lorries together with a series of buses, cranes and trains. Tri-ang was one of the largest toy producers in the world and their range of toys reflected this.
The pressed steel (and occasional wooden) trains and pressed steel cranes were made during the same lifespan as the lorries, although up until the mid 1950s, most trains were made of wood. The steel buses were manufactured from 1957 up until around 1970. In the Pressed Steel Lorry range there were delivery vans, petrol tankers, breakdown lorries, different types of articulated lorries, rocket launchers, car transporters, circus lorries, mobile shops, Army, RAF and emergency vehicles. There was quite a vast range of these vehicles and the cab types tended to reflect the designs of those in real life at that particular time that they were being manufactured. All nine different ranges large roadvehicles Tri-ang produced you can find here.
Lines Bros Ltd, at its peak, was claimed to be the largest toy maker in the world.