Model Railway Shops
Over the past 60 or so years, quite a varied selection of shops selling model railway items have existed in the Glasgow area. These are just the ones we have been able to recollect. This list does not claim to be fully comprehensive nor definitive. Retailers are listed in alphabetical order. Further additions and extra information would be very welcome.
Please note that of all the many and varied retailers listed below, only two shops selling model railways remain in business in the greater Glasgow area.
These shops are Pastimes and Wildcat Models. See below for more details.
A U MALCOLM
This shop was a primarily a bicycle, television and radio service dealer and was located at 1032 Shettleston Road opposite Ardholm Street. A sign stated that early 405 line TV receivers were able to be accepted for adaptation to receive the new STV broadcast on Channel 10. BBC was already transmitted on Channel 3. Anyway, a stock of toys and Tri-ang Railways items were maintained all year round but the shop window displays of toys and model railways was usually enlarged every year on the approach to Christmas.
See listing for Jean Greer Models.
BEATTIE'S OF LONDON
Beatties of London was not exclusively a model railway retailer but was part of an extensive chain of full range hobby shops with branches located throughout England. It was only in the 1990's that they opened a shop in Glasgow and this was located at 30 St. Enoch Square. On entering this shop a vast array of plastic construction kits of aircraft, motor vehicles and ships were to be seen on display. Right at the back of the shop were glass fronted counters and display cabinets showing the latest offerings from Hornby, Lima and Bachmann and also a range of other model railway related items. The shop ceased trading around 2000 and the premises lay vacant for some time. The site is now occupied by Maplin Electronics.
Another department store. This one was located on Glassford Street on the east side between Argyle Street and Wilson Street. On entering the shop you headed for the metal wire enclosed lift where you were greeted by the lift operator requesting "which floor please?". There was always a musty damp smell, just like the subway, on entering the lift. The lift was a "Rolls Royce" of its time giving a smooth ride to your floor. The lift driver stated "first floor - bla bla", "second floor - bla bla". However, reality existed on the third floor, toys. Right turn out the lift and down a stair to the toy department where you were greeted by a massive train layout. Behind the wooden topped counters were piled high bright red Tri-ang Hornby boxes inviting the spending of your hard earned pocket money. (Information provided by Bill Watson).
Buchanan's was a local family business and was one of the main suppliers of radio receivers and subsequently television sets in Shettleston. The shop was located on the southern side of Shettleston Road opposite Etive Street. It later relocated a short distance to the west to larger premises adjacent to the Methodist Church. In the early fifties, Hornby 0 scale tinplate trains and accessories were on display. On closure of this business the site was later occupied by Stepek Travel and then became The Hospice Shop. (Information provided by David Black).
CALEDONIAN MODEL COMPANY
Originally located at 5 Pitt Street on the western side near the meeting with Argyle Street, this shop subsequently relocated to larger premises around the corner at 478 Argyle Street. They offered their own make of model railway accessories such as point motors and specialist components as well as proprietary makes such as G&R Wrenn 00 two and three rail track, the type with the fibre base and pre made double junctions, single and scissor crossovers, all of which required additional wiring and sprung point levers. This whole site is now occupied by the Marriott Hotel.
CLYDE MODEL DOCKYARD
The Clyde Model Dockyard was probably the most well respected toy and model shop in Glasgow and according to their wrapping material, was established in 1789. It existed at 22-23 Argyll Arcade, north side, near the L shaped bend. Not only well stocked with Lines Brothers and Meccano products and construction equipment such as Bayko, they manufactured a comprehensive selection of quality boats and sailing yachts which were however somewhat pricey. They also produced their exclusive brand of 00 scale model railway accessories such as the station and tunnel illustrated below. This shop always seems out of place in the Argyll Arcade, being surrounded by all those bead and trinket shops. When the shop closed in November 1971 it was soon assimilated by its neighbours.
The shop's facade was very impressive. On both sides of the centre door there were tapering display windows towards the door and on the arcade itself was sited the main display windows. Above the shop, individual letters, about one foot high spelled out the name CLYDE MODEL DOCKYARD. These letters appeared in silhouette against the lighting on the Arcade's cornice. On the pillars separating the shop from the adjacent shops were small display cabinets. The contents of these small cabinets would vary on a regular basis between the differing inventories of the two adjacent shops. Sometimes trains, sometimes beads. In the main windows the displays consisted of their own make of boats and yachts and model railway scenic items and of course the many fine products of Tri-ang Railways, Hornby Dublo and Dinky Toys. The Clyde Model Dockyard was one of the few toy and model shops in Glasgow that stocked the products of both Lines and Meccano. Inside the shop, the serving counter was along each side and the back with more items displayed on shelving behind the counter. The shop's store room was above the shop, the staff access being by a somewhat steep wooden staircase on the left side of the shop. The shop was usually very busy, especially on Saturdays as remember, there was no such thing as Sunday shopping in those days. The helpful assistants were always willing to remove models from their boxes and give a personalised presentation and demonstration for a prospective sale, a service now lost to us due to the extravagant packaging of models today.
|Paper Bag or Poke||
Nameplate on tunnel
|Small wooden station named "Dundee"||
1939 Order Form
(photo: John Anderson)
Opened in 1987, this business traded at 56 Bell Street and stocked a comprehensive range of not only model railways but die cast vehicles, plastic kits, dolls houses and accessories. The business ceased trading at the end of May 2012.
Dunns was situated in Cumbernauld Road at the junction of Roslea Drive, Dennistoun, about 100 yards from Duke Street station. It was quite a big shop selling a range of toys, prams and cycles. The part of the shop selling cycles also did spares and repairs and was a popular place for local cyclists to get their punctures repaired. Of most interest to me, however, was that part of the shop selling toys and models. Dunns sold both Tri-ang and Meccano ranges covering most of the popular items sold by these companies. My first train set was bought from Dunns and I can remember the Saturday my dad took me to Dunns on my 11th birthday. The choice of set came down to a Tri-ang passenger set with Princess Elizabeth and two coaches or an Hornby Dublo goods set with an N2 loco and goods wagons. I wanted the passenger set (naturally) but my dad thought that the Dublo set would last longer because it was metal. It just so happened that the Tri-ang representative was in the shop that day and overheard the discussion about which set to choose. He got a Pedigree doll from the shelf and asked my dad to break it. Needless to say he could not and I got my passenger set! Dunns closed sometime around 1961/2 and in their closing down sale my first weekly working wage of £5 was spent on a Britannia and a Winston Churchill. (Information provided by John Anderson).
E & D DOIG
E & D Doig was located at 625 Duke Street, Dennistoun, near the junction of Meadowpark Street. The main business of the shop was as a newsagent and confectioners but a display of Margate made model railways was maintained throughout the year due to their status as a Tri-ang Hornby official service dealer. An advertisement at the time stated "Are you well trained? If not, and even if you are, why not visit the model railway department of Douglas Doig, the East End's Tri-ang Hornby specialist". On closure of this shop, the premises was assimilated by the adjacent bank.
F F BROWN
Located at 1001 Shettleston Road on the corner of Ardholm Street, this was a dedicated toy shop, had the Meccano dealership and maintained, amongst other toys, an excellent display of Hornby Dublo and Dinky Toys items. One of the last new items displayed at the end of Meccano was a Hornby Dublo Barnstaple at the sum of £5-15s-00d, no discounting remember due to retail price maintenance, this was a huge amount of money at the time.
The location was 52-54 Sauchiehall Street on the north side between West Nile Street and Renfield Street, near to the Lyric and opposite the Empire Theatres. They specialised in the products of Meccano. This whole block has since been redeveloped and the numbers 52-54 are now utilised by the Bodycare shop.
A peculiarity of some shops that stocked Meccano products was that their primary business was not toys but sports equipment and Foster's was one of these. This shop was located at 409 Sauchiehall Street, near the junction with Elmbank Street. At the end of Meccano their Hornby Dublo stock was put up for sale at half list price but this did not seem to generate a lot of excitement. This truly was half price as retail price maintenance was still very much in force at this time. Some excellent bargains were to be had, for example the Hornby Dublo 2224 Stanier 8F for 46/3. This was acquired on the 8th of January 1966. The location of this shop still has a sort of railway connection, it is now the Canton Express fish and chip shop, resplendent with a colourful, if somewhat imaginative, image of an HST.
GLASGOW MODEL CENTRE
Another later arrival on the scene. This shop was located at 671 Cathcart Road, not far from the original McMillan Models shop. The official opening of this business had the attention of Strathclyde Police by being investigated by Chief Inspector Taggart, alias Mark McManus, doing the honours. This shop catered for a wide range of hobbies, not just model railways. (Information provided by Douglas Boyle).
See listing for Williamson Models.
This was a general hobby retailer located at 312 to 314 Argyle Street, on the north side, between Wellington Street and West Campbell Street. It was not dedicated just to model railways but catered for most types of modelling and hobbies. The site is now split into two, 312 being the Silk & Secrets lingerie emporium and 314 being The Guitar Store.
IBROX SPORTS EMPORIUM
Located on the south side of Paisley Road West near Edwin Street, this shop was again similar to Foster's in that primary business was sports equipment but Meccano products were stocked. At the end of Meccano the supplies of model railway items dried up.
The delight of this shop was that for many, many years it had a simple model train layout in the front window, in amongst the rest of the display. To the side of the plate glass window, on the frame itself, there was a coin slot that took one old penny. When you popped the penny in, the train ran for a few minutes. Seems a bit sad now, but then it was the height of excitement! It was my treat for not crying when visiting the dentist across the road! (Supplementary information provided by Ian Wallace).
JEAN GREER - ARGYLE MODELS
Not usually known by this first name. The original location of this shop was at 247 Argyle Street under Central Station bridge, on the south side. To all intents and purposes the shop appeared like a gift and china shop. Don't be fooled by appearance. On carefully negotiating the delicately balanced china on display and descending a somewhat narrow and precarious wooden staircase to the basement, an excellent array of model railways and other models were to be found. Evidently the hobby business improved, the named changed to Argyle Models and the shop relocated to larger premises at 229 to 235 Argyle Street, on the same side, at the eastern end of the bridge. Fortunately all that trinket and china nonsense did not follow. Again a slight railway connection still existed on the original site as it is now full of puggies, being occupied by the Las Vegas amusement arcade.
This was probably Glasgow's largest department store and was located on Argyle Street opposite Queen Street. They maintained an all year toy section located in the eastern half of the third floor. At Christmas time, Santa's Grotto exited into this area.
In some years, in the run up to Christmas, there was a large 'O' Gauge layout promoting Thomas the Tank Engine. The half hour displays were all manually controlled by one operator and included the correctly stopping of a train in the Country station. The secret of success was to have listened to the description of this train and of all the others which had been carefully described. The sequence started with a sleeper train and progressed through suburban rush hour to long distance trains. All of the big four companies were represented in model form. A child from the audience would be invited to stop the train at the station, but he had to have noted that the first 3 coaches were full brakes and should be run right past the platform which was only long enough for the passenger coaches. The operator gave a live commentary all through the display which culminated with Thomas escaping from his coal siding to 'play' with the big trains. The operator became very angry with Thomas and started chasing him with a rolled up newspaper. Clever Thomas hid underneath the main station canopy peaking out at different ends. The operator then chased Thomas from end to end of the canopy swiping at him with the newspaper. Bear in mind the operator was operating Thomas while chasing him (No automatics) and the main line trains were still running.
This building has now been completely refurbished and sub divided with the major occupant being Debenham's. (Supplementary information provided by Douglas Boyle).
Another sports shop that also had a toy section selling Meccano products. Located at 80-82 Sauchiehall Street, this site is still a sports shop but now named Greaves. The only place where train appears on the inventory is in the shoe department.
This compact department store was situated at 393 Sauchiehall Street at the corner of Elmbank Street and was easily identified by two ornate lamp posts outside the Sauchiehall Street door. One display window on Elmbank Street usually presented a selection of toys and models tempting potential customers to seek out the main stock. This stock was located in a somewhat cramped spot in the basement. Not only was Tri-ang Railways represented but there was also plenty of the then newly introduced Trix 2 rail range such as Der Adler, Trans Pennine, A H Peppercorn, Metcam Pullman cars and the ubiquitous Whisky or grain wagons advertising a range of a dozen or so Scotches. One day, those lamp posts attracted unwanted attention when a runaway lorry descended the very steep Garnet Street opposite and entered the store through the main entrance. Very severe damage was inflicted on the building, not to say the lorry and the store remained closed for some time. The complete structure has now been replaced by flats with a Royal Bank of Scotland branch on the ground floor.
M G SHARP
This business had premises located at 20 Robertson Street, in a second floor office suite, up a somewhat steep stair. Specialising in American, Japanese and European items, they soon moved to larger ground floor shop front premises at 79 High Street. Later, M G Sharp relocated to Sheffield.
To be strictly accurate this retailer was not located in Glasgow but in the Antartex Outlet Mall near Balloch but it was only a short train ride away. Like the Clyde Model Dockyard it always seemed out of place being surrounded by tartan trinkets and shortbread stalls catering for the visiting coach parties. Eventually the business relocated to become a full service hobby shop at 64a Sinclair Street in Helensburgh. An extensive range of British outline models and accessories was offered but the real speciality of the house was a very comprehensive range of North American models in various scales. There was also a good range of dolls houses and accessories stocked. On the retirement of the original proprietor the business changed ownership and relocated to Kirriemuir.
Again to be strictly accurate this retailer was also not located in Glasgow but in Paisley but it was again only a short train ride away. MacKay models opened for business in 1976 and was located in the northern booking hall of Paisley Gilmour Street station at 38 Old Sneddon Street. It was a full service model shop and it included a full range of model railway items not only of British but also of Continental and American outline. Eventually Network Rail wanted their station back so the business relocated to Studio 20, Sir James Clark Building, Abbey Mill Centre. Paisley. On relocation the business then specialised in Continental model railways and digital control systems.
This was primarily a furniture shop and was located on the north side of Shettleston Road near the corner of McNair Street. Once you fought your way through the carpets and sofas, Tri-ang Railways in the era of Series 3 track were to be found at the back of the shop.
This newsagent shop existed at 367 Allison Street near the meeting with Cathcart Road but also housed a comprehensive array of models and hobby items. Expansion took place and a further two shops opened, one just around the corner at 533 Cathcart Road near Calder Street and a large shop at 74 Busby Road in Clarkston, opposite the shopping centre.
Modelzone was a full service model and hobby shop catering not only for model railways but for model road vehicles, aircraft and boats. They also offered a comprehensive range of modelling accessories such as plastic card, kits and a full range of paints. It was located within the St. Enoch Centre, St. Enoch Square at Unit 69/70 on the upper floor. This shopping centre is built on the site of what was once the Glasgow & South Western Railway St. Enoch Station. Modelzone ceased trading in September 2013.
N F MILLER MODELS
This business opened at the location previously occupied by M G Sharp at 79 High Street and stocked not only model railways but a selection of model buses, aircraft and plastic model boat kits. Subsequently the business advertised its name in the form of N F Miller Railmail and then Railmail (N F Miller).
Although a fairly newcomer to the scene, this business brought something new to the hobby in Glasgow, a shop specialising in pre owned model railways, collectible items and vintage toys and dolls houses. Initially located at 48 Park Road, just off Great Western Road, they relocated to larger premises at 140 Maryhill Road. Further expansion took place when they moved to their present spot at 126 Maryhill Road.
This business operated out of the premises previously displayed as N F Miller Railmail at 79 High Street. Railmail became well known for high profile marketing and pioneering in discount mail order business from their other store at Railmail of Watford. Relocation of the Glasgow shop took place to an office suite at 121 West Regent Street then to a lower ground floor shop at 165A St. Vincent Street. Yet another relocation took place to 25 Parnie Street near Glasgow Cross. After a reorganisation, this shop eventually traded under the name of Argyle Model Dockyard although the inventory of nautical and model chandlery was sparse.
SCALE MODELS SCOTLAND
This business first opened in an office suite at 40 St. Enoch Square, upstairs. Catering for general model railway supplies, they specialised in a vast range of quality transfers then unavailable on the market. Eventually they relocated to a shop front site at 87 Wellington Street, near the corner of Bothwell Street and became a full service model shop. Later another move took place to Unit 17 within the Anderson Centre but on redevelopment of this site this shop closed. After some period of absence, these decals returned to the market under the name of Modelmaster Decals, the business originally being originally located in Troon but subsequently moved to Ayr.
Located at 56 Bell Street, Glasgow in the same premises that were previously occupied by D&F Models, this business offered 00 and N gauge model railway items and also plastic kits and die-cast models. This shop ceased trading during May 2017.
This shop, opened in 2015 is located at 251 Dumbarton Road in Partick and specialises in scale model kits, model railways, paint systems, scenery and model making accessories. Stocked is a selection of model railway train sets, engines, and rolling stock, from Hornby, Dapol, Graham Farish and Branchline by Bachman. Controllers by Gaugemaster and Dynamis. Also stocked are track accessories by Peco and Hornby, Woodland Classics trees, water system and scenic material.
The one shop that had the most famous or must be stated, infamous reputation throughout the Glasgow area was Williamson Models. This shop was located at 89 Cambridge Street near Hill Street. Although the name above the shop stated Williamson Models, nobody ever referred to the shop by that name. It was always called Glassford's after the proprietor.
The shop seemed to stock everything from engineering supplies and bits and pieces for live steam both railway and marine, Meccano parts and all the usual railway models from Tri-ang Railways, Hornby Dublo 2 and 3 rail, Trix Twin and even some other more obscure models of foreign origin. It was usually quite difficult to see your intended purchase as the stock was all arranged in a most untidy and haphazard manner.
Once you had decided what you would like to purchase, it was cabaret time. The proprietor, Jimmy Glassford, was notorious for his implementation of his unique style of customer relations. In fact it could have been said that he instructed Basil Fawlty in achieving his prowess. If you were unable to respond quickly to his demeaning insults, it would be most embarrassing not only to yourself but also to all the other customers present.
"What do you want?" was the usual opening gambit. "Do you see one?" A yes or no, it did not matter as there would then be a tirade of muttered grumbling and insults as he attempted to find the said item amongst the entire randomly arranged inventory. On finding the item and handing over of the payment, the final comment was "Do you want a poke?" This was not an offer of what is known as a Glasgow kiss or a gratuitous violent assault however although it did sometimes seem that way. Be assured, a poke is a Scottish word for a paper bag.
Despite all this dubious in shop entertainment the shop was always busy and especially so on a Saturday. Not only would the shop be full of nervous and apprehensive customers, a sometimes quite substantial queue would form along Cambridge Street waiting for admission. There was of course no Sunday trading in those days.
Besides the somewhat eccentric proprietor, the shop had some other unique properties. The stock was comprehensive but more importantly, there was also a considerable amount of pre owned items available which were not available anywhere else. Remember at this time retailers only dealt with new stock supplied by the major manufacturers such as Meccano or Lines Brothers and of course everything had to be sold at full retail price due to the retail price maintenance agreement which guaranteed prices were identical at every shop. It seems difficult to imagine but at this time there were no swapmeets to visit to find those out of production items.
It would seem that Williamson Models or J. Glassford ceased trading sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's. The premises are now occupied by a ladies hairdressers named Fusco's. Whether Mr. Glassford retired to become a permanent resident at Fawlty Towers is not known.
Attached is a scan from the publication "Green
Goddesses Go East, published in 1961. As you can see, Williamsons sold lots
of model tram items too and I used to buy tram plans and working model bow
collectors from them in the early 1960's. (Supplementary information
supplied by David Rhodes).
Williamsons were also known for producing a range of OO card embossed sides, much in the style of the Peco Wonderful Wagons of the era. The March 1972 W&H catalogue lists the following names as being available - G.L.M., Tredegar, Denby Grange, Cannop, Lawrence & Co., Groves Co. Ltd. & Park Gate. I think they also produced Kimberley Beddoes side. As far as I know most of the bodies has a basic orange colour with white shaded black lettering. (Supplementary information supplied by Owen Roberts).
This shop was at the western end of the Argyll Arcade on Buchanan Street and was really a department store. The toy department was located on the 1st floor, access from the Arcade being gained by ascending a marble staircase, traversing the furniture department and ascending another stair on the right. An excellent toy department awaited you which at Easter time even displayed a large incubator full of live chickens. Fortunately for the chickens, they were not on sale. All year round the model railway section usually featured working train sets made up from either Hornby Dublo, Tri-ang or Trix-Twin components. The building is now divided into smaller shop units.
I well remember a layouts in this store, but it was a man called Harold Elliot who did the comedy act, using not Thomas the Tank Engine, but the older Sammy the Shunter. I have to admit to being caught out by the 3 BG's!. An article on Mr. Elliot and his travelling layout appeared in one of the contemporary issues of the "Railway Modeller."
(Supplementary information supplied by Sam Ramage).
This shop was located on the eastern side of Stockwell Street underneath the approach tracks to St. Enoch Station. One of the specialities of the house was Tri-ang Railways. Due to the restricted ventilation and a nearby fish supper shop, there was always a strong aroma of chips in the place. After the destruction of this once fine station, the final insult is that the area is now a car park. (Information provided by David Coddington).