Mamod: Steaming through the Decades

Mamod: Steaming through the Decades

November 2023 Categories: News

Ever since the late nineteenth century, children have been enthralled by the capacity of steam to power engines and boats in toy form, not to mention the world of accessories available to accompany them. Today, nearly every engine owner will recall their time spent playing with toy steam models as a child. For many, it is a stepping stone (or slippery slope!) leading to a lifelong fascination with steam power and industrial and agricultural heritage.

Certainly, when it comes to British steam toys, Mamod is the best known of them all. With a rich history of toy steam manufacture, the company has become the favourite when it comes to entering the world of steam, at any age or background. Throughout the decades, Mamod has developed a range of steam products, though none are as iconic as their classic Traction Engine (T.E.1.a), produced in green and provided with a steering rod and drive band to enable stationary and mobile functionality.

Over the years, subtle changes have been made to the T.E.1(a) design, probably the most obvious being the switch from methylated spirits burner trays to solid fuel tablet holders after a spate of incidents in the 1970s, then there is the more subtle transition from water overflow plug to sight glass, making it easier to fill the boiler with water. Other variants of the traction engine, including the Tractor Wagon Kit, the Centurion (fitted with a double-action piston), and Samson (limited edition model), speak to the popularity of the model type, as well as its timeless capacity to capture the imagination of generations of steam-enthusiasts.

For a company as long standing as Mamod, it goes without saying that a trail of collectible items are left in its wake. Certainly, the more obvious items would be the engines themselves, ranging from the rarest of pre-war stationary engines, to the highly sought-after turn-of-the century Millennium Bus.

For us, however, Mamod’s history is testament to a cross-generational fascination with steam. The items below, held in the Berrybrook Ltd. Archive (part of a collection of over 100 paper-items relating to the Mamod Steam Company), point to that fascination. Scrolling through them provides an avid reminder of the timelessness of Britain’s iconic model steam toy manufacturer.

Figure 1: Malins Engineers Ltd. 1959 price list for Model Steam Engines and Working Models.
Figures 2 and 3: The front cover and page-spread of a sales brochure produced by Mamod in 1961 for the first mobile Mamod steam engines, the Steam Roller S.R.1 and the Traction Engine T.E.1.
Figure 4: An early Mamod brochure advertising the S.E.3. stationary engine (at this time, the largest stationary engine sold by Mamod) on the cover. Circa. 1960's.
Figure 5: A Mamod brochure fronted with a boy and his Traction Engine. Note the addition of a forward/reversing level. Late 1960s.
Figure 6: Mamod Retail Price List. March 1972.
Figure 7: A packet containing a Mamod Flexible Steel Spring Driving Belt packet. This packet still contains the original drive belt from new. Circa. 1970s.
Figure 8: An iconic, early advertisement for the Mamod Steam Roadster (S.A.1). Late 1970's.
Figure 9: A Mamod advertisement following the introduction of solid fuel. Circa. 1976.
Figure 10: A shop display stand for Mamod Waxed Solid Fuel tablets. Today, the models are operated using these tablets as opposed to the methylated spirit burner trays of models pre-1977.
Figure 11: Front cover of the Mamod Steam Models catalogue. Published circa. 1979.
Figure 12: Advertisement introducing the new Mamod Steam Locomotive (S.L.1). Circa. 1980.
Figure 13: Card showing the highly sought-after Mamod Special Edition Brass Roadster. This model was produced to a limited production run of 1,170 cars. Circa. 1981.
Figure 14: “New from Mamod – Live Steam Kits”. Introducing the Mamod Tractor Wagon Kit (T.W.K.1). Circa. 1982.
Figure 15: Cover of ‘Collecting Scale Models’ from November 1990, fronted with Mamod Fire Engine (F.E.1), Railway Set (R.S.1) and London Bus (L.B.1).
Figure 16: A commercial brochure distributed to retailers. Date unknown.
Figure 17: A catalogue of Mamod Steam products, produced in West Germany. Exact date unknown.
Figure 18: A French Mamod steam brochure showing the newer Mamod Steam Traction Engine. Circa. 2007.