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Exley O Gauge

Exley Logo

Edward Exley Ltd

by Pat Hammond

With acknowledgement of help given by Quentin Lucus of Edward Exley Ltd. and the work of Roy Chambers.

A History of the Company

This firm is primarily known for its coaching stock in 00 and 0 gauge and was founded at Bradford by Edward Exley about 1922. Initially the products were locomotives, in live steam, clockwork and electrically powered, in gauges 0 and 1, which were made to order.

By the 1930s, 0 gauge coaches had joined the range of products, and both locos and coaches were available ‘off the shelf’ as well as to order. During this period the company started supplying Bassett-Lowke with models, including the range of 0 gauge coaches which the latter company sold as their ‘scale range’. It should be remembered that this was in the days before current consumer legislation, and as we have seen elsewhere in this catalogue, Bassett-Lowke bought in much of their range of products from other manufacturers and sold them through their catalogues under their own name. At the same time a business relationship was formed with J S Beeson, Mills Bros., Leeds Model Company and others, with much cross fertilisation of products between the parties involved.

In the later 1930s, partly as a result of Vivien Boyd-Carpenter having joined the company, high quality 00 coaching stock was added to feed a growing market in this new scale.

During the Second World War, work turned to the war effort and scale model ships for naval recognition use were made. With the return of peace, the Company retooled in 1945 to produce their railway models again. The underframes and bogies of the early post war coaches were improved from those of the pre-war era, and around 1950 the tooling for the coach bodies was also upgraded to the style most commonly found today.

Edward Exley Ltd also produced industrial models to commissioned orders, which included charabancs, industrial installations, large diesel engines, etc., and continued to supply Bassett-Lowke with ‘scale’ coaches.

In the early post war years the sales department was in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, with Boyd-Carpenter running this part of the business, although the works were still in Bradford. By 1952, however, Edward Exley (Sales) Ltd had moved to Baslow in Derbyshire and Edward Exley had resigned as a Director of the Sales Company in July 1955 after a disagreement. However, Edward continued to manage the works in Bradford. Furthermore, the catalogue carried the statement 'This Company is not now a manufacturing undertaking'. Lists of coaches in 00 and 0 scale were issued by the factory but these were headed 'Exley of Bradford'.

Locomotives had continued to be available after the war, mainly to order, but in the late 1950s Edward Exley sold the loco construction part of the business to Stanley Beeson, who had made locos for a number of Exley clients. Coaches were listed until 1962 when there was a terrible fire which destroyed the Bradford premises and most of the tools. At this point Edward Exley decided to retire.

The company at Baslow continued to offer coaches but discontinued the 00 gauge range as the manufacturing facility was lost in the fire. The 7mm models were listed as available until the death of Boyd-Carpenter in January 1995, but were in fact being made by outside workers to order. It has to be said that quality of the coaches made after 1962,