Seeing the numerous Topics (an incredible 9 in total!) associated with 581 and 980 Maudslay Horsebox "Express Horse Van" (1953-60- US Edition (a title of which the model was never known by the way, just Horse Van on its box and some literature), I decided the 581-981 Horse Box (1953-1961) Topic should be created, as there is a wealth of information out there that should appear in a Topic of this great model that had so much play-value built into it with its opening ramps.
I have taken the liberty of changing the title from that appearing in the PDF File, 581 and 981 Maudeslay Horsebox "British Railways" (1953-60) by deleting "Maudeslay" (an incorrect spelling - should be Maudslay ) and "British Railways" as the model was simply known in all the Meccano literature as well as its box and inscribed under the model itself as "Horse Box". I have also changed the final date and details surrounding this change are below.
The Horse Box made its debut with an announcement of its arrival in the April 1953 issue of MECCANO MAGAZINE. The advertisement had this to say:
A really beautiful model of a vehicle used by British Railways and transport companies for conveying race horses and bloodstock. The hinges ramps at the offsideand rear for loading and unloading animals are reproduced in the miniature. Richly enamelled in B.R. (British Railways) crimson, with transfer markings in cream on the front and sides.
This rather grainy black and white photograph shows my 981 Horse Box in the near bottom righthand corner taken near our back door on a sunny day in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia - the only photograph showing my model that sadly now resides somewhere within the Armidale rubbish tip. One may very well ask, "How was this possible", or "who was responsible for this unspeakable ending for a fine Dinky Toys"? Well, in short, it was my well-meaning but highly irresponsible Mother! As I have written in other Topics, I spent 21 years in Papua New Guinea, and on my return, I collected my Dinky collection. Being a very fastidious individual, I conducted an audit, discovering that many, 19 or 20 had disappeared. One model I specifically asked Mum about was what became of my Horse Box that used to reside in the kitchen cabinet that had been pensioned off and moved into the laundry, the other model with the Horse Box was my Blaw Knox Bulldozer. I had the Dozer, but not the Horse Box. Mum replied that as it had become chipped, she threw it out! I could not believe what she said as she knew how much my Dinky Toys meant to me. I was speechless (an unbelievable occurrence) and absolutely shattered. Well, that is what happened, but, there is still a ray of sunshine - I still have its original box!
Now that is one for the books - usually the model loses its box, not the other way around!
However, I have since those dark days, obtained another example, this one having been originally sold in Australia judging on the 1957 plus price written on the top of the box.
The model was quality inspected in November 1958, two and a half years after my original model was made. But at least it was originally sold in Australia!
Returning to the 981 Horse Box, the deletion year as indicated in the PDF File is 1960. However, the 981 Horse Box was included in the February 1961 Dealer Order Form. I do not have an Order form for March or April 1961 but the model is not included in the May 1961 Dealer Order Form. This is where it becomes tricky! The 981 Horse Box is NOT included in the January 1961 DinkyToys Price Leaflet printed for the Australian market. Nor was the 981 included in the UK Price List dated May 1961 of which the front of this price list is in colour showing models 187, 155 (in yellow!), 186 and 194.
But, a separate price list with the print code 10/561/50 (3rd printing) which translates to May 1961 does contain the 981 Horse Box at a price of 12/9. I have decided to change the year the model was deleted from 1960 to 1961, based on the February 1961 Dinky Toys Order Form with the later confusion of May 1961 with it still being available. The 981 is not included in the 1961 catalogue which was printed in May 1961 (there's that month of May 1961 again!) but surprisingly the 979 Racehorse Transport was, when this model was not released until October 1961 as a new colour issue of the 981 Horse Box. In my uneducated opinion, the 981 model remained officially in an unofficial capacity until the arrival of its brighter version, thus confirming 1961 as the last year for the original 981 Horse Box. Hope all that makes sense!
A brighter addition to the Dinky Supertoys range but one that would only remain in the sales documentation until 1964, bringing the actual casting in production for an amazing eleven years. I look forward to more contributions to this Topic!
Kind regards to you all
Bruce Hoy (150)