WHAT'S NEW IN THE WORLD OF STEAM IN ENGLAND? At least a partial answer is furnished in these articles by Gerry Lestz, following the visit he and his wife Margaret made to London after last Thanksgiving. Each article deals with a separate facet of steam. Further information is planned for a subsequent issue of IMA.
A shop which is unique in the world, so far as we know, is 'Steam Age', selling model locomotives, traction engines and marine engines in London, England.
Pictured is a 1922 Burrell road locomotive. The photo was sent to us by Jack Brady of 53 Lower Fold, Marple Bridge, Stockport, SK6 5DU, England.
Sue O'Connor, a cheerful young woman who can discuss engines and their components with the best in the field, is managing partner. She is associated with the widow of the former owner.
Margaret and I knew of the shop for some years, so when we made a journey to London last November, this was on the agenda. For steam collectors, knowing of it is very important. Sue receives overseas telephone calls daily, from the U.S., Japan and other countries.
The day of my visit, Miss O'Connor was elated with the recent arrival of a new catalog for Maxwell Hemmens Precision Steam Models. She had every reason to be. The photos in the catalog show handsome models of locomotives, traction engines, marine engines, boilers for marine engines and stationary plants, and stationary engines and stationary plants.
Model traction engines include a 1' scale coal-fired road roller, a 1' scale coal-fired 'Merlin', French agricultural portable engine, and others. New projects for 1985 include a Shand Mason fire engine 2' scale, of which only 100 will be made.
Sue O'Connor finds 'a big increase for castings of stationary steam and marine steam engines'.
She continues: 'People find that if they are near water, they like to build the marine engines and put them to use with a model boat. They can now build boats suitable for radio control.'
This brings together three kinds of hobbies, she notes. One is the building of the boat; another, the steam engine boiler, and the third, radio control.
'This is bringing new people to us,' She adds with a smile. Thus her business, already conducted on a worldwide scale, is continuing to expand at home and abroad.
In her shop are all sorts of small engines some quite old, made years ago, others brand new for trains and ready for new hobbyists. The shop has always handled the old one-of-kind miniatures, and is a center for those who build to scale today.
'One of these engines' she said, 'is made by a craftsman in Devon. When he finishes it he calls me and says he wants to sell. I buy it sight unseen. I know the builders, and they are proud to have their work accepted on their word.'
Miss O'Connor admits she has had pieces in the shop she did not wish to sell, because she liked them so well herself. 'You put high prices on them, and then you're caught if someone wants them and will pay what is asked, ' she said resignedly.
While we were there, she cheerfully showed us a couple of back copies of IMA. That added to the pleasure of the interview.
She has received many invitations to visit the U.S., frequently from customers who know her only by telephone or letter. Thus far she has not made the voyage. We hope she will try the trip.
Meanwhile, if you want her address, it is: Steam Age, 19 Abingdon Road, London W8 6AH. It is off Kensington High Street. Telephone number is 01-938-1982.