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janwerner's picture
janwerner
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-255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hello all,

Now an old question of mine, which has not been anwered satifactorily since I put it for the first time, almost five years ago.

In 2001 I was in Liverpool, for visiting the 100th anniversary Meccano exhibition over there, and in order to do some research in the Meccano archives. An old desire of mine was to find and get photographic material concerning the original Mersey Tunnel Police Van(s).

The Mersey Tunnel Police were apparently that surprised by a foreigner being interested in the MTPV’s, that they kindly provided me with ample interesting documentary material, sent to me by mail some weeks later. I was surprised to see that, besides the red one, also yellow vans, Land Rovers Mark II, existed in various appearances, apparently in the 1960s.

So, inspired by that image material, I could not control myself and I succeeded to create two new versions, in naïve Dinky style, and of course based on two MTPV wrecks (and by that as Mark I versions, without the later more or less pronounced waistline).

I am very happy with the documentation provided and the results of my yellow van experiments, but now still one question remains. The Mersey Tunnel Police could not find any image of the familiar red Dinky Toys prototype, be it in colour or in black & white. So I put my old question here again: could anybody of you give information about the earlier red one, or, preferably, provide me/us with a photo of that original 1950s red Mark I Land Rover version?

Kind regards, Jan Werner


beejaz
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Joined: Wed, 12/31/1969 - 18:00

Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

I was born in Liverpool in 1938 and lived there until 1969. I remember the Mersey Tunnel Police vehicles which I understand were made by Sandon Engineering (who were possibly the Land Rover agents). Their works was in Kind Edward Street near the J Bibby & Sons factory, not far from the Liverpool Mersey Tunnel entrances. I seem to remember the vehicles as red and later a beige colour with brown wings not red & yellow as your drawing, but I could be wrong!! Regretably I do not have any photographs of them.


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janwerner
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Thank you very much for this comment from a genuine Liverpudlian! Interesting to learn these local details.

In addition, and for further clarification, I may quote some text which accompanied one of my pictures:

'During the late 1950s and early 1960s recovery vehicles based on the series II Land-Rover 88 inch chassis were used by the police force of the Mersey Tunnel Authority. The distinctive colour scheme for these vehicles was cream (not yellow as apparently shown on the colour plate) with red front wings and roof, with special bodywork being carried out by the firm of Noel Lacey Ltd.'.
Of course this text refers to the yellow/red one only, but still it's peculiar that no reference is made to the earlier red Mark I Land-Rovers, which were made so well-known by the Dinky miniature. But as we all know, Dinky seems to have been specialized in modelling rather unsual, hard to find prototypes.
Still, I keep hoping that some time someone will produce some visual evidence of its existence!

Kind regards, Jan Werner


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don bugden
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

With regard to the Mersey Tunnel Landrovers and Jan's research, I was born in Birkenhead (at the other end of the tunnel!) in 1948 and can remember seeing the the cream body and brown wings version quite often and think I can vaguely remember seeing red ones prior to that but, as I was a very young boy, I can't be sure. Sadly no photo either. Great stuff though.
Regards Don Bugden(356)


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janwerner
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Thanks Don, I realize more and more that the red ones were active in an era in which black and white photography was usual and colour photography was very incidental. But, again, as you do not remember having seen the red version, this confirms that Meccano chose another rather unusual prototype version for modelling. Perhaps, though the real red one was rather unusual, Meccano must have thought a red one to be a more attractive colour for a toy than a boring cream with brown one. Nevertheless, let's keep hopefully waiting for someone who can show a picture of the red prototype!

Kind regards, Jan Werner


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janwerner
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

At last ....
I found it today, included in the nice magazine accompanying the British Cars & Lifestyle event, which takes place in Rosmalen (NL) this weekend!

Regards, Jan


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don bugden
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Jan, What a fantastic picture and well done for eventually finding it. It is wonderful to see the outgoing all red Land Rover (upon which Meccano based the Dinky Toys) standing next to the new cream and brown version. I can clearly remember the cream and brown Land Rovers patrolling the Birkenhead/Liverpool tunnel but can't remember the red ones as well. It is also nice to see one of the old wooden toll boxes in its original position between the lanes. There is still one old toll box located near the Liverpool entrance today which has been preserved together with a short section of the original narrow rectangular recessed light units which were set into the tunnel side walls to remind us of the tunnels history. Many thanks for a great reminder of days gone and for the photographic proof of the origin of the Dinky model.

Regards, Don Bugden (356).


Fred7A
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Well done on finding this elusive evidence at last - ity shows that perseverence truly pays off! It's an added bonus that the picture is so attractive, so thanks for posting it.


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janwerner
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Thanks for your comments! Looking in old photo albums I found this photo of one of the Mersey Tunnel booths. It is used as a display for Dinky Toys & related in the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool. I don't know if this display is still the same at present. In 2001 this was. I presume the corridor in front of it was so narrow that I could not make a better picture of the front of it.

Some continued browsing produced this picture of a restored characteristic lamppost, the ones you can see on the well-known 1956 DT catalogue cover:

And finally a comparative photo and the 1956 catalogue cover:

Kind regards, Jan


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

This post is from 55Zephyr it has been transfered from a duplicate thread.

Greetings everybody,

there have been several mentions of this model on different threads, but I thought it would be worthwhile to open a specific thread to give a brief profile of this unusual model.

The 255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van was first announced in the September 1955 issue of the M.M. (which no doubt, according to publishing practise was available during the last week of August) and was described as being "ready during September" priced at 2/9d.

The first production models were fitted with ridged die-cast hubs painted red which had standard 19/32" black plain tyres; it had a black painted 'mottled' baseplate, and was packed in the standard yellow box with pictures each side (these boxes, and also those of the 261 G.P.O Telephones Van) were printed on highly acidic card stock which became yellowed and embrittled very quickly, and consequently are quite fragile with detached flaps etc.) - and the early castings had a smooth inside to the cab roof, which was later modified with the 'cross-hatching' which has been described elsewhere. Sometime later, for a short time they were packed in plain yellow boxes with text in red on all four sides.

Having acquired a good boxed example of this first production version model during the 1990's, my interest in this model lapsed until several years later, when I was reading a copy of Bruce's excellent publication 'Dinky News' (Edition 1, June 1998) in which he started a series of articles on all the models packed in the red/yellow non-pictorial boxes - and the MTPV 255 was mentioned. Needless to say, this prompted my search for an example in this style of box, which took a while - but soon I was the proud owner of this variation. Upon examination it was seen to have not only a different box, but also a different finish to the baseplate (what I call 'Mirror-Gloss', i.e. precoated steel with a high-lustre smooth black gloss finish) - and also, the shade of red seemed to have changed from the original 'pillar-box' bright red to a slightly more crimson red shade, which some people call 'cherry red' (the only trouble with this is that cherries seem to come in a wide variety of shades of red!) - however, it was still fitted with red-painted ridged die-cast hubs, although the tyres were now the treaded black 19/32" ones.

By 1958, the catalogue price had increased to 2/11d but the model was still pictured as having plain black tyres; in the 1959 catalogue it was now shown with treaded black tyres but the price had reduced to 2/10d, which was maintained until the end of availability. The last printed reference I can find is in the June 1960 leaflet DT/CF/8 and the 1960 catalogue (U.K. 8th Edition) which I think was printed in August - there seems to be no further listing, so, as most sources state (Ramsays, Richardson etc.) the model was deleted some time in 1961.

As my knowledge of Dinky variations increased, and having done much research into model changes, I soon found that the change to 'Mirror-Gloss' bases occurred around the same time as the change from ridged die-cast hubs to Spun Alloy hubs, and subsequently to the models being supplied in the non-pictorial red/yellow panel boxes. I shall post some more detailed information on another thread, but suffice to say that the Mirror-Gloss bases were introduced progressively from around November 1958, Spun Alloy hubs from December, and the red/yellow panel boxes from around June 1959. So of course, the search for an example with Spun Alloy hubs began !

As they say, patience is rewarded, and in 2003 I came across an example on eBay U.K. - one very fuzzy picture, showing a model in a red/yellow panel box, and of indeterminable condition - however, I won it for the grand sum of £37. Maybe all the other Dinky collectors were asleep, or maybe they weren't prepared to take a chance - but when it arrived, I was most pleasantly surprised to find that both model and box were Near Mint - and yes, the model had Spun Alloy hubs and Mirror-Gloss base. Well, where there is one, surely there have to be more? Well, perhaps I have become obsessed :

However, not only has my search for these models turned up three models with Spun Alloy hubs, but also I now have a substantial 'Mersey Tunnel Police' fleet which is surely appropriate for any Police Force? You will see from the picture that there are eleven vehicles (only one early version), but I have two more early versions which somehow must have been out on patrol and didn't make it into the picture!

Here is a picture of the difference of the undersides - maybe the drivers were out on a pursuit and lost control ?

Lastly, I must apologise to all those collectors who have been denied the chance to acquire a scarce example with Spun hubs because of some obsessed Aussie beating them to the draw - but don't give up, there must be another one out there somewhere?

As always, I hope you find this profile of interest, and will be pleased for any additional information which can be added.

Regards to all, Adrian.


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Joined: Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:49

Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

This post is from David Busfield, it has been transfered from a duplicate thread.

There is always a surprise out there in the Dinky world, your collection of MTPV is lovely, one of my all time favourites.

I suspect Jan will follow up on this as he has done a lot of specific research into the real world vehicle.

Dave


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dinkycollect
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

This post is from Jan Werner, it has been transfered from a duplicate thread.

Hi Adrian, great article and great collection !

You did not mention the lettering variations. In my opinion there are three sizes, but having no collection like yours, I do not know which techniques have been applied, transfer, tampo printing, stickers? What are your findings?

My MTPV obsession has a slightly different character, but not less obsessed! Here are some 1960s conversions and I had several communications with the Mersey Tunnel Police about heir history and practice ... and crossed the Mersey (tunnel) many times, of course.

Kind regards, Jan


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Adrian

An excellent treatise on the 255, and I must confess I learned more from your post than reading the original thread, although seeing some of the images posted by Jan has brought the model into some sort of reality. I never had a 255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van in my original collection, but I did have two boxed examples in recent years but these have moved onto better or greener pastures. (Or better and darker tunnels!) I now regret not including the Mersey Tunnel on our itinerary in 2005 after visiting the site of the demolished Meccano factory.

On checking through my copies of Meccano ephemera, my Australian catalogue 23/560/40 shows the 255 on page 10, and again in the Meccano Toys of Quality leaflet for Australia with the print number 16/760/12.5 (2nd Printing) with a Dinky Toys leaflet published the following month, the 255 had been omitted. This leaflet has the print details of 8/860/10. Then an unusual thing occurred. A Dinky Toys leaflet for the UK, print number 10/561/50 (3rd Printing) May 1961, sees the return of the 255 with a price of 3/3.

We then turn to the numerous Order Forms prepared by Meccano sales agents. The 255 appears in the June 1960 Order Form with a wholesale price of 9/8 for a trade pack of six models or 1/7 each and a retail price of 2/10. In Mid-November 1960, 255 still appears with the same pricing details. However, by February 1961, the Order Form no longer included the 255, no doubt due to the arrival of a new Police vehicle, the 256 Humber Hawk. Finally, to confirm the Dinky Toys leaflet issued in May 1961, the Order Form for that month sees the re-appearance of the 255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van, this time the wholesale price for a Trade Pack of six models had increased to 11/3, or 1/11 each with its retail price as previously advised of 3/3. By September 1961, the little 255 had finally disappeared from the company’s sales literature.

With all the above, the model’s deletion year is confirmed as 1961 and it is most likely, based on all the contemporary publications, met its demise between June and August 1961. A pity the casting was not then used to produce a civilian work vehicle in a similar fashion that the 260 Mail Van ended up delivering Capstan cigarettes complete with padlocked rear door!

Kind regards

Bruce


55Zephyr
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hello All,

Thank you all for your comments - I must apologise for starting a new thread, but thank you Jacques for combining my post with the existing ones, especially those from Jan with excellent pictures and much research on the real MTPV vehicles. Before submitting my post, I did search the Forum to see if there was an existing 255 thread, but my search did not show one, although I have read all the previous posts referring to this model. Anyway, I am glad that all the mentions have been combined to produce a most comprehensive profile on what is a rather unusual but intriguing subject for a Dinky model.

I must say that I was impressed with Jan's two red & yellow repaints - what a pity that the MTPV was not considered as a contender for Dinky's 'gay' two-tone liveries as applied to the ex-40-series cars in September 1956, but I suppose it would not have been considered a suitable model for this treatment. I might have a go at producing a copy of Jan's livery for myself using a scrap model (will have to obtain a scrap one and Jan's permission first!)

There is one thing that has intrigued me in the colour picture of the actual red MTPV at the entrance to the tunnel - as has been mentioned elsewhere (can't remember where), one of the other vehicles in the picture is a Ford Zodiac Mk3, which as we know was not introduced until February 1962 - moreover, the car is bearing a registration with four numerals and a two-letter suffix, LV (this is a Liverpool-allocated series, so the car was local) but this series was only introduced in 1963 - so, what is a mid-1950's police vehicle doing in a 1963 picture? Surely the MT police would not still be using a ten-year-old vehicle?

To get back to Jan's questions:

1 CASTING VARIATIONS

I cannot find any casting variation other than the cross-hatching on the inside of the cab roof, as mentioned elsewhere - just a slight loss of the crisp contours of the body detail over the course of time, but no modifications to the dies.

2 LETTERING

A My earliest model (pillar-box red, shown on the pictorial box in my first picture, centre back) has extended lettering with very large, thick characters which are almost touching. I have realised, however, that contrary to what I stated in my post, the tyres on this model are not the standard 19/32" plain black ones (7067), but the larger 11/16" plain black ones (6676) as fitted to many of the early military models.

B My second model (also pillar-box red, not pictured) has much smaller and finer lettering, much neater in appearance - this model is fitted with 19/32" treaded ('engraved') black tyres (14094) so must be a 1958 production.

c All my other 11 models (more crimson-red as pictured, in red/yellow panel boxes) seem to have lettering more like (A) above, but not such heavy lettering. All except one of these have Mirror-gloss bases and would date from late 1959 to the end of production.

All 13 models appear to have Tampo-printed lettering (didn't Dinky use 'spirit-fix' lettering at some time, where the letters are printed in reverse onto a backing which, when placed on the model and the backing removed, leaves the letters correctly spaced on the model? I think this was used extensively on Hornby 'O' gauge rolling stock).

Bruce also asked a couple of questions about price markings and inspection stamps on the boxes:

3 PRICING

Of my 13 boxes, only three have any form of pricing:
A One early pictorial box has '85c' rubber-stamped on the top face, so sold in the U.S.
B One red/yellow panel box has '55' in pencil on one end flap - but no currency is shown.
C One other red/yellow panel box has '3/4d' handwritten on one end flap, but as the highest price I have found for the U.K. was 2/11d, perhaps this model was sold in Australia, as Bruce has found a price of 3/3d in an Australian list?

4 INSPECTION STAMPS

Only four boxes - all red/yellow panel ones - have inspection stamp marking on the inside of one end flap - they are: 160, 560, 960 and 361 - so implying four production runs (perhaps more?) between Janury 1960 and March 1961. However, the '361' marked box contains one of the Spun-hub models - so perhaps this was the last production run before the model was deleted? And if the stock of red-painted ridged die-cast hubs was exhausted during assembly, probably a few final baseplates were fitted with Spun hubs in order to complete the models - by that time Spun hubs had been in use across the passenger car range since December 1958/January 1959.

5 OTHER MODEL VARIATIONS

Close inspection of all my models has shown a variation to the tow-hook - early models finished in pillar-box red have the top of the tow-hook nicely rounded, whereas those in crimson-red have the top of the hook with a straight edge about 3mm across (and not quite level!) looking as though the top has been sheared off, although the height of the hook has not changed. I think this modification applied to all models across the range of all Dinky models which were fitted with tow-hooks (has this been posted in reference to other models?)

6 BOX VARIATIONS

There seem to be four box variations, although the differences between C-i and C-ii are really nit-picking!

A Early pictorial box, darker yellow with red text and a model picture on two oppposite sides, 42.5mm high x 38mm wide.

B Later plain darker yellow box, no pictures, text in red on all four sides, dimensions as above.

C Red/yellow panel box in two slightly different configurations, the 42.5mm dimension now reduced to 41mm:
i Box height 38mm x width 41mm (the model is taller than it's width, so is inserted on it's side into these boxes).
ii Box height 41mm x width 38mm (so the model can be inserted upright, as it was also in (A) above)

The difference is really only noticeable when the two boxes are placed beside each other - however, because of the difference in dimensions of the red vs yellow panels, there would have been two sets of printing plates which implies that there could have been two different print suppliers.

Well, that is enough for the time being - I hope this post hasn't descended into insignificant minutiae, but if so, perhaps I can partly blame Bruce for generating my interest in variations through his excellent publication 'Dinky News'?

So now I must resume my search for another Spun-hub MTPV - or perhaps a 482 Bedford 10-cwt van 'Dinky Toys' also with Spun hubs - I have already found two with Mirror-gloss baseplates, so one with Spun hubs can't be impossible, surely? Meanwhile, I nust think about my next submission - maybe the 482 Bedford van, or perhaps the range of 29c/290 Double Deck buses? I don't consider myself a bus 'expert' or to have anything like the knowledge of certain other DTCA members (but they don't contribute to the Forum), and so far I have acquired 42 different models from 1938 to 1962, plus another 42 in full Trade Boxes and a 29c/290 Trade pack - so I think I am beginning to see the pattern of production! Watch this space.

Regards to everybody, Adrian.


55Zephyr
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Greetings everybody,

typed this post three times - each time on trying to submit, I got a dialogue box with the message 'WRONG CODE' which deleted my submission. Frustrating - four wasted hours! Then I typed it out as a Word Document, but it would not upload.

Then,I converted my Word doc into a PDF but it still wouldn't upload !

Then I tried converting it to a picture: Nope, still didn't work. I gave up!

FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER - PLEASE SEE MY PREVIOUS POST AS I HAVE NOW RE-TYPED AND RE-SUBMITTED SUCCESSFULLY ON THAT POST. GRRRR !

Regards, Adrian.


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Dinkinius
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hello Adrian

I too have experienced the same problem. Also the website frequently drops out these days with the same message, "Bandwidth etc, etc." If one is in the middle of posting or editing, all your work is lost.

I now compose my posts outside the website, (cut and paste any quotations) and when finished, I copy and paste my post. This has saved me a lot of frustration. I guess it depends on how long your document is and if it contains images, etc. I upload images separately, and then cut and past them within the body of text where I want them to appear.

Cheers

Bruce


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janwerner
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Joined: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 00:56

Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hi Adrian and Bruce, indeed, it is very frustrating to have written an eleborate text and see it evaporate when pressing the button. I have experienced that on other sites too.
I have sent a message about this to Dave Kaun, hoping he can solve (or explain) the problem.
Kind regards, Jan


55Zephyr
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hello everybody,

have just laboriously re-typed my previous attempts at posting a response to Jan's questions, and it has been successfully submitted on my previous post. Sorry for the delay!

Regards, Adrian.


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janwerner
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Joined: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 00:56

Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Hi Adrian, thank you very much for your marvellous contribution. Ideally this is the way contributions should be made in order to build a body of internet Dinky knowledge! (as we did on the TMT forum). I can imagine you have been muttering (eufemism) when things went wrong with your text. In the mean time Dave Kaun has confirmed that he repaired the underlying problem. I can copy your finding as the medium size tyres is concerned (I hardly dare say something firm about tyres anymore, LOL). In fact I have also recorded ... white 15 mm tyres!. Indeed this model can be argued to have been a candidate for those.
I believe your collection and your knowledge about this remarkable Dinky should deserve a comprehensive article in the DTCA Journal. It would really be nice, with all the minute details and differences photographed and described. I might even add my own MTPV history of the real car in the same issue.
By the way, you need not ask for permission regarding my replica's. I have no interest in that and everyone is free to copy a real car in miniature.

A remark about that: I used the artist's drawing of the MTPV as a colour example for my creations. In fact that yellow colour is 'too yellow', it should be more verging to cream. You can see the cream version on the same photo as the one presenting the red one. That does not matter for a Dinky Toy which needs a 'gay' toy colour, but in copying relality this is not quite correct. I also used the standard flash lights which are as Dinky would have done it, but they are too big in relation to scale. The red one on that picture seems to be a Mark II - with the 'waist' - which by definition is later than the Mark I which is represented by the Dinky Toy. So there is no unlogical 'anachronism' in my opinion. A colour picture is hard to find in the 1950s, exactly the reason why it took so long to find one showing the red one, and, as the setting confirms, apparently a later one, of the early 1960s.
Congratulations with your nice contribution!
Kind regards, Jan


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Adrian,

Congratulations for your article about the MTPV, a great piece of Dinky history.

Jacques.


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janwerner
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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

This week I found an original vintage postcard with the picture above on eBay. The quality is - although far from perfect - much higher than the rather poor illustration in the publicity leaflet discussed, and now we have the facility to present pictures much larger than on the old website.

So here I share with you the Mersey Tunnel Police Vans in cream and red, as shown on the postcard that arrived today. Although the red one may be a Mark II, its design comes closest to the familiar Dinky Toy. Kind regards, Jan  


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Jan----That indeed is getting very close to our Dinky Toys version......a very nice find for you, and thanks for sharing with us.
Best regards, Terry


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

In the course of making my new private Dinky Toys calendar for 2017 I took the opportunity to include my new find as described above. The quality hardly suffered from enlarging the postcard format to A3 format (42cm wide). Kind regards, Jan 


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Just returned from Liverpool a little photo update of my hobby-horse with a few images of the present looks of the Mersey Tunnel Police Vans. Kind regards, Jan 


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Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Just found a fourteen minutes' (rather poor quality) colour film of Liverpool in the year 1964 on YouTube. Between 2:30 and 2:55 you can see a glimpse of the red Mersey Tunnel Police Land Rover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23hAT7ZH-Ek


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dinkycollect
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Joined: Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:49

Re : -255 Mersey Tunnel Police Van (1955-61)

Yes a short glimpse.

I must have seen these Land Rover when I visited Liverpool in 1959 but I can not remember them.