The company was started by brothers George and Richard Wrenn in 1950. A third brother, Cedric was to join the company in the late fifties. Initially, the company manufactured a range of high quality 00 gauge points and track from premises in London situated at Lee Green, Blackheath, London SE3. They advertised "Trackwork for Permanent Layouts" made by G & R Wrenn. These products included Diamond Crossings, Insulated Crossovers and Points. All were available for both 2 and 3 rail operation.
As the business expanded, larger premises were sought and they moved to 11, Honeywood Road, Basildon in 1955. Their products were soon advertised as "Universal Trackwork" as the range developed, accommodating Hornby, Tri-ang, Trix, Marklin and Rivarossi stock. By the early sixties, they were producing over 120 items of precision-built model railway trackwork and were manufacturing the famous Formula '152' Model Motor Racing System, following its successful launch at the Brighton Toy Fair in 1960.
Both brothers' extensive engineering backgrounds helped to design and produce this system. Indeed, these 3 inch long cars were able to produce scale speeds of over 200mph! George was responsible for the conception and development whilst Richard concentrated on the tooling and mass production. Cedric Wrenn having recently joined the company, was responsible, as Sales Manager, for the marketing and sales of all of the products now produced at Bowlers Croft. Marketing became an important area for G & R Wrenn, with such a diverse product range. Cedric was often to be seen at Trade Exhibitions in Brighton and London.
During the sixties the company went from strength to strength. Adjoining units were taken on as they expanded in Honeywood Road. Their location became known as "Bowlers Croft" and they stayed in these premises until their demise in November 1992.
Other non-railway items were sold by G & R Wrenn during the sixties. Items such as, Battery Operated Motor Boats - an RAF Twin Screw Crash Tender and a Vosper Triple Screw Yacht, a Baby Alarm, a Pull Back'n' Go Mini, Doodle Discs, the Master Mariner Set, the Wrenn Wonder Boat and Mighty Midget 3-6 Volt motors!
Wrenn Railways first proper catalogue was issued as the 1st Edition. The reference was given on the inside front page as 00/1/73. Although some items were still issued in Tri-ang Wrenn boxes, to use up existing stocks, the new name of Wrenn Railways was used on all new packaging together with the introduction of the now famous Wrenn Guard blowing his whistle and waving a Union Jack. The highest model catalogue number to be issued in a Tri-ang Wrenn box was W5010-the 12Ton "Robertsons" Ventilated Van. 1972 had seen the production of loco variations to the 0-6-0, 0-6-2 and 2-6-4 tanks, but for 1973, 7 further locomotives were to burst on to the Wrenn dealer's shelves. These were:
- W2220 - GWR 2-6-4 Tank
- W2228 - BR City of Birmingham
- W2229 - BR City of Glasgow
- W2230 - BR 1000 B H P Bo-Bo
- W2231 - BR Diesel Electric Shunter-Green
- W2232 - BR Diesel Electric Shunter-Blue
- W2237 - SR Lyme Regis
A range of "Standard" super detail wagons were introduced as well as 7 new ex-livery wagons. These had an "X" suffix after the number - e.g. W4318X.
Three Pullman Cars were also introduced that year - W6000, W6001 and W6002, a Brake 2nd, a 2nd Class and a 1st Class respectively. These were as the Hornby Dublo issues but now came with metal tyres insulated and the Tri-ang pattern couplings fitted as standard. By the end of 1973, "00" railway enthusiasts had 42 different wagons, 3 coaches and 20 locomotives to choose from. When you consider that Hornby Dublo had ceased production in 1964, this must have been a wonderful time for people to refresh their stock, either for running or to add to their collections!
Also in late 1973, Wrenn were to commence the marketing of the Lima '0' Gauge range. 'N', '00' & '0' Gauge ranges were all on display at the Model Railways Exhibition held at Central Hall, Westminster from 23rd August to September 1st.
For more information on G & R Wrenn of Basildon, why not Join the Wrenn Railways Collectors Club here
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