Margate’s Hornby Hobbies secures £12m business funding

Hornby Hobbies in Margate Photo Steven Collis

Margate-based Hornby Hobbies has secured a £12m injection of cash from Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance.

The combined facility funding is split with half for accounts and half for inventory.

The Scalextric and model train giant, which was founded in 1901, moved back to Margate at the start of 2019.

Photo Steven Collis

The company had sold its site in Margate for £2.25 million following a move of distribution to Hersden in 2014 and office functions to Discovery Park in 2015. Those moves marked the end of 60 years in Margate.

An overhaul of the management in 2017 resulted in the decision to bring the offices and a new showroom back to the town.

Simon Kohler from Hornby

Marketing director Simon Kohler, who began his career with firm in the early 70s at the Margate site, said at the time that it was a return to the true ‘home of Hornby.’

Hornby is now based alongside Locomotive Storage Limited, which bought  the site after the model firm moved out.

Locomotive Storage provides storage for locomotives and rolling stock, such as the Bittern and is developing a British railway heritage museum.

Photo Steven Collis

The toy giant employs more than 200 staff globally, with offices based in the UK, America, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

In 2019, Hornby reported a revenue of £32.6m, which increased to £37.6m in 2020 and £45.9m in 2021.

The facility from Secure Trust Bank will help Hornby continue to meet demand from a global market. Secure Trust Bank provides asset- based lending to businesses across the UK.

Photo John Horton

Hornby Chief Exec Lyndon Davies (pictured) said: “The past few years have been transformational for Hornby. It’s been our priority to keep the business on track and thriving for the millions of collectors and hobbyists across the globe.

“Since welcoming our new management team, we have expanded our workforce, enhanced our market knowledge, and established partnerships with the best manufacturers.

Photo by John Horton

“The support that we have received from Secure Trust Bank is set to prove invaluable, and this new facility will help us to continue creating timeless products that our customers love. Its commercial finance team took the time to fully understand the needs of our business, making the process quick and easy.”

Tony Young, regional sales director of London and South East at Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Hornby and getting to know the management team.

“Hornby is a household name and the success over recent years reflects the hard work and dedication of its team. With this facility in place, Hornby can continue to thrive and invest in a legacy that started more than a century ago.”

Potted history

Photo Steven Collis

Hornby Railways’ roots date back to 1901, when founder Frank Hornby received a patent for his Meccano construction toy. The first clockwork train was produced in 1920 in Liverpool.

In 1938, Hornby launched its first 00 gauge train. Production was suspended in 1942, during the Second World War. Production resumed after the war but did not reach full capacity until 1948.

In 1964, Lines Bros Ltd, the parent company of rival Tri-ang Railways, purchased Meccano Ltd., and merged Hornby and Tri-ang into Tri-ang Hornby at the Margate site. The former Hornby line was discontinued in favour of Tri-ang’s less costly plastic designs.

The Tri-ang group was disbanded in 1971 and Tri-ang Hornby was sold to Dunbee-Combex- Marx, becoming Hornby Railways in 1972.

Hornby Railways became independent in the 1980s. Production continued at the Ramsgate Road factory until the 1990s, when it transferred manufacturing to Asia and the old factory became a warehouse.

In July 2010 the Hornby Shop And Visitor Centre opened. In June 2013 the firm announced that it was shifting its warehouse to Hersden, near Canterbury, and in May 2015 the remaining sections of the business moved to Discovery Park.

A restructure of top management in 2017 led to the welcome return of Hornby offices in Margate and the creation of a new showroom alongside Locomotive Storage which bought the site when Hornby moved out.


  1. Good luck to Hornby the best thing they done was clear out the last management. They have grown and prospered since.

  2. I went there.. Thought it was rather bleak.
    I was scared when they might of moved out.

    I wish them well.. I had hornby train set

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