1948 Triang Trike
LINES BROS LTD
Lines Bros. Ltd., at one point one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world, was registered as a company on 1st May 1919. It was founded by three brothers, Walter, William and Arthur Lines, the sons of Joseph Lines, who, together with his brother George, owned the toy manufactures G&J Lines Ltd. Lines Bros.’ first premises was in Ormside Street, Old Kent Road, London. Manufacturing under the Triangtois trade name, the company was immediately successful, and in 1922 acquired a larger factory at 761 Old Kent Road, London, with additional London showrooms, bought in 1921, at 9, Fore Street. In December 1923, Lines Bros placed a contract for a new purposebuilt factory in Morden Road, Merton, South London, on a 27 acre site. Originally called Triangtois Works, this new factory was later renamed the Triang Works.
The late 1920s and 1930s was a period of expansion for Lines Bros., with new product ranges introduced, companies acquired and subsidiary companies formed. The Unique and Unity Cycle Co., which was founded in 1888 and based in Birmingham, was acquired in 1927. In August 1931, as the largest single individual creditor, Lines Bros. took over Hamleys Bros. Ltd. when it ran into financial difficulty. Also in 1931, the Pedigree name was registered by Lines Bros. for their subsidiary dollmaking company based at Merton. International Model Aircraft Ltd. , which pioneered model aircraft production and was also at Merton, was formed early in 1932, and the MINIC range of toy cars and vehicles was introduced in the early 1930’s. In 1932, Lines Bros. acquired the trade names and trade marks of G&J Lines Ltd., and on 7 June 1933, Lines Bros. became a public company. In January 1935, the London showroom moved to 18 New Union Street, EC 2, and in 1937 Pedigree Soft Toys was formed, also operating from Merton.
During the Second World War Lines Bros. Ltd. stopped toy production, instead manufacturing a range of munitions and military equipment. After the war, however, Lines Bros Ltd. immediately returned to toy manufacture and continued their programme of expansion. Lines Bros. (South Wales) Ltd. was founded in 1945 based in Cyfarthfa, near Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. In October 1946 a new factory was opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the newlyformed Lines Bros. (Ireland) Ltd. This was called the Pedigree Works, and produced the bulk of the Company’s soft toys. W. Pearce (Brentwood) Ltd., a sawmill and woodwork factory, was also acquired. Also in 1946, Lines Bros. Ltd. started on their overseas expansion programme, acquiring Joy Toys Ltd. manufacturers of dolls and soft toys in Whangerei, New Zealand. This acquisition of overseas companies continued for the next 20 years. In 1947, Lines Bros. (Canada) Ltd. was founded, based in Montreal and using the Thistle trademark which had previously been used by G&J Lines. In 1951 Lines Bros purchased fifty percent of the Australian toy company Cyclops, which became Cyclops & Lines Brothers (Australia) Ltd. The remaining 50% of Cyclops was purchased in 1955, and this company in turn took over Moldex Ltd., based in Melbourne. Included in this new acquisition was a range of plastic moulding equipment to produce Triang scale model railways and Pedigree dolls. 1954 saw expansion into South Africa, with the formation of Lines Bros. (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd. and the takeover of the Jabula Company, Johannesburg. This was followed with new factories in
Durban, Natal and Mokeni, producing toys and Pedigree carriages, and showrooms in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Salisbury (in the then Rhodesia).
Lines Bros. also continued to grow in the United Kingdom and Europe. They further extended the Unique and Unity Cycle Co factory in 1950, (later renamed Triang Toys (Birmingham) Ltd.), and the following year acquired Rovex Plastics Limited of Richmond, renaming it Rovex Scale Models Ltd, which produced the Triang electric model railway system. In 1954, this moved to a new factory in Margate, Kent, and the original Richmond facility was used as an overflow for Merton, housing Lines Bros. (Richmond) Ltd. and producing mainly musical toys, later becoming involved in the development of electronic toys. In 1957, Lines Bros. Ltd. acquired Simpson Fawcett, manufacturers of prams, and moved production from Portsmouth to the Lines Bros. Cyfarthfa works. The following year, in November 1958, they bought Minimodels Ltd., a Havant company founded in 1947 which had introduced its Scalextric racing system in 1957. They also acquired Young and Fogg, manufacturers of rubber toys, and the retail chain Youngsters.
In 1959, Lines Bros. purchased a factory at Givors, near Lyons. A year later they acquired Ets. V.B. S.A, a French company making model railways, whose production was transferred to a new factory being built in Calais for the newly formed Ets. Lines Freres S.A. Then, in 1962, they took control of Aube Plastique, Paris, and converted it to making parts for these two other Lines Bros. factories.
The first half of the 1960s again saw expansion of the Company. On the 1st January 1960, Triang House, Lines Bros.’ showroom at 5354 Haymarket, London was opened, and In 1961 Lines Bros. purchased a controlling interest in J. Schowanek GmbH, a German manufacturer of wooden toys. A branch of this firm became J. Schowanek Ltd., operating from the Lavant premises previously occupied by W. Pearce (Brentwood) Ltd. Sindy, one of Lines Bros. most famous products was launched in 1962, and in the following year Lines Bros. acquired controlling interests in two baby carriage manufacturers; Shuresta (A.Mirecki) Ltd., who produced ‘Cumfifolda’ baby carriages and ‘Shuresta’ bike stands, and Walker Industries Ltd., which became known as Lines Bros (Dublin) Ltd. In August 1964, Lines Bros. bought Meccano Ltd. and Dinky Toys from Hornby, retaining the Liverpool factory at Binns Road and the Meccano name, but increasing the Meccano range of products. The HornbyDublo range of train sets, which had been manufactured by Meccano, were consolidated with Triang’s own railway system and sold to Rovex Scale Models, who continued production under the name Triang Hornby Railways at their factory in Margate. Meccano (France) was also acquired, as was a controlling interest in Steelcraft Ltd., a manufacturer of strollers and folding baby carriages in Melbourne, Australia, and a 50% interest in Regal Trading, at the time the largest toy wholesaler in South Africa. By 1966 Lines Bros. had agents in 63 countries and showrooms in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Africa and Australasia.
The late 1960s was a period of consolidation for Lines Bros. In July 1964, Lines Bros. International Ltd. was formed to supervise the management of the many international companies within the group. The period 1967 to 1970 saw largescale restructuring of the Lines Bros. U.K. operation, in an effort to bring costs under control. The first wave of restructuring was completed by 1968, and resulted in the U.K. subsidiaries being placed into 8 divisions: Triang (which made wheeled toys, bicycles, swings and chutes); Rovex Industries (which made electric toys, train sets, dolls and soft toys); Meccano (producing the Dinky range of cars, trains and Meccano construction sets); Minimodels (most famously manufacturing Scalextric racing sets); Pedigree Prams; Shuresta (also producing prams); Hamleys and Youngsters (the Regent Street shop and about 60 specialist toy retailers across the U.K.) and Wooden Toys. In 1969, the Company underwent further restructuring, with the 8 divisions being further reduced to three: Triang Pedigree, which included Hamleys and Youngsters retail group and Wooden Toys; Rovex Triang; and Meccano Triang.
In the Autumn of 1971, after recording a record £4.5 million loss the previous year, Lines Bros. collapsed and its assets were sold. RovexTriang became Rovex Ltd, and was sold to Dunbee CombexMarx . Triang Hornby Railways continued as Hornby Railways (then, from 1990, as just Hornby). TriangPedigree was bought by Barclay Securities and became part of the Barclay Toy
Group, which had been founded in 1971 and which also included Sebel, Chad Valley, Chiltern and Chas. E. Methven. The teddy bear range was taken over by Canterbury Bears and the Pedigree Soft Toys production manager, Jim Mulholland, set up his own factory in Belfast named Mulholland & Bailie. Within 6 months, Barclays Securities had begun to further dispose of TriangPedigree’s component parts, selling the adult cycle business to Raleigh and the wooden toy business to Good Wood Playthings (a company which had been started by Walter Lines when he retired from Lines Bros., and which was managed by his daughter Peggy). MeccanoTriang Ltd. gained sufficient financial backing to transfer its assets into a temporary holding company known as Maofords Ltd., which was later renamed Meccano Ltd. and sold to Airfix. Soon after this, on 23 November 1972, Walter Lines, the driving force behind Lines Bros, died at his home in Surrey.
Lines Bros Info with thanks to – http://www.vam.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/252722/LINE-Catalogue-18.02.15.pdf