Gamages began life in 1878 in a rented watch repair shop and, after quickly becoming a success amongst its customers, was established as a London institution. In time it was to grow large enough to take up most of the block on which it was situated. The store finally closed in 1972, but prior to that had been unusual in that its premises were away from the main Oxford Street shopping area, being on the edge of the City at Holborn Circus. Gamages also ran a successful mail-order business.
Many of those who were children at the time remember Gamages because of its unparallelled stock of toys of the day, and the Gamages catalogue, which was a well-loved gift during the autumn, in time for present requests to be made. One of the store’s main attractions was a large model railway which alternated between a day and night scene by the use of lighting. The railway was provided by a man called Bertram Otto who was German by birth. It received many thousands of visitors every Christmas displayed between early October and Jauary 31st.
The toy department was probably see eveything that was avaialable “off the shelf and ready to run” so far as model railways were concerned. The stock included Tri-ang, electric, cockwork and battery, Trix Twin, (still with ugly locomotives, and wagons with a wheel at each corner) Hornby Dublo, Fleischmann, Marklin, Gaiety, Master Models, Lineside Model Ki buildings, Lilliput road vehicle models, Lionel “0” gauge trains, Marx “0”gauge trains, Chad Valley “0” gauge, Milbro track, Bassett-Lowke, single “0” gauge clockwork model loco, Lineside Models, “0” gauge.
And of particular interest “The world’s smallest, practical electric trains”.Rokal, made in Germany, was a very early appearance in Britain of “TT”.
While there is no comparison with range of model railway equipment today, it is quite a surprise to see just how much was available 65 years ago.