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Hornby Trains & Sets

In the UK, we’ve always had a fascination with the railway; after all, we did invent it. Our interest in trains has led to several well-known toy manufacturers creating buildable scenes to accompany clockwork, battery or electric-powered toy trains, and none are as popular or recognised as Hornby.

At Cullens of Surrey, we’re no stranger to handling Hornby trains and related sets in our auction houses. Our knowledgeable team, led by Derrick, are enthusiastic and passionate about retro toys, models and memorabilia, meaning you’ll be receiving the most accurate valuations whenever you choose to buy or sell with us.

Background Information: Hornby Trains

Hornby is a brand which is widely referred to as one of the most successful in the UK. First introduced in 1920, Hornby quickly became the leading brand for collectable model railways. However, the brand name first appeared in 1909 on an educational Meccano set, known as “Hornby System of Mechanical Demonstration”, created by inventor Frank Hornby, who launched Meccano.

In 1938, Hornby Dublo was introduced, becoming the company’s main model railway product during the 1950s, following the end of the Second World War. During the 1960-1970s, Meccano faced financial trouble and joined Lines Group to merge and form “Tri-ang Hornby”. However, the independent company we all know today was formed in 1981, offering a variety of new sets to accommodate the increasing demand of the general public.

Examples of High-Value Sales

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, families began rediscovering old hobbies and toys, and Hornby sets were unearthed by a younger generation. Therefore, in recent times they’ve become more sought-after again. Two of the most valuable Hornby trains currently include the Thomas the Tank engine clockwork train (1983) and the Bournemouth Belle train (1963), both of which are currently valued at £500 - and these trains are expected to rise in value.

Hornby sells a range of high-priced trains which could well increase in value, especially considering their historical relevance at the time. Available directly on Hornby’s website for the first time to celebrate its 100th year anniversary, the R30209A Hornby Dublo LNER, A3 Class Era 5 train set may well become highly sought-after in the future. It is gold-plated and a limited edition, and priced at £499.99.

Train Collection

Did You Know?

Hornby is often more valuable when sold in a lot, and this was certainly the case back in 2021 when covert train toy enthusiast Adrian Batty’s Hornby collection was discovered after his death. The collection, which sold at auction for over £21,000, was kept secret from Adrian’s wife, Jane, who had never entered her late husband’s spare room. The lot contained items from the 1938-1963 Hornby Dublo era and involved over 130 locomotives, rare trackside accessories and thousands of additional rolling stock items. Quite the collection, it seems.

General Tips for Hornby Trains & Sets - Buying and Selling

If you’re looking to get your hands on a collection of Hornby trains & sets at auction, or you’re considering selling a collection that you own, there are a few useful things to know to make sure you’re getting the best deal and maximise the sale price. At Cullens of Surrey, it is our utmost priority to ensure you are comfortable with all parts of the auction process, from buying to selling, so never be afraid to ask us for further information on how our auctions work.

Some things to check include;

  • Are the items boxed, and if so, what is the quality of this box? Hornby trains that are still boxed (or have the box to hand) are typically worth more, especially if the box is in good to mint condition. This isn’t a necessity but is certainly a bonus.

  • In what state is the product itself? It is natural for older trains and additional items to become discoloured over time, but those that have minimal colour fading and have been looked after well are usually much more valuable.

  • Consider the edition of the items; could it be considered a “limited edition”? The majority of the most valuable Hornby trains are limited edition items since there are few remakes available, therefore bringing a greater demand for collectors.

  • How genuine does the item seem? Check for any parts of the item which could indicate it is fake, such as the colours. Use online comparisons to genuine versions. The box (if it has one) should be free from spelling mistakes, with crisp printing.

Looking to Sell With Us?

If you have any Hornby trains & sets that you’re looking to sell, or any other toys and models, we offer various routes, such as at auction, direct purchasing or third-party sellers. You can read about each selling route in more detail on our dedicated “Selling At Auction” page.

Explore a Range of Different Ways to Buy Retro Toys & Models

If you’re looking to start an exciting new retro toy collection or expand an existing one, Cullens of Surrey is the perfect place to bid on exciting goods from the comfort of your own home. Discover how our online auctions work, or get in touch with us for further information.