Tuesday 3 March 2009

Farming Toys

This subject will crop up more than once over the course of the project because of the enduring way that toys both shape and reflect notions of farming and the countryside from an early age.

I’m starting with a tractor because it is one of those instantly recognisable objects, like the steam train, that children are drawn to almost intuitively, whatever their background. This is the Fordson Major die-cast toy tractor, No.128F, that was made over the period 1948-1958 by W.Britain Ltd.

This was the first new tractor to be made by Britains post-War. Until the 1970s, they made only Ford and Massey Ferguson tractors but thereafter added many other manufacturers and machines to the list. The older examples like this one are no longer toys as they have become highly collectable and fetch prices way beyond pocket money levels - particularly if the original box is intact.

Britains was founded by William Britain senior (1828-1906) and specialised initially in toy soldiers. But after the First World War, market demand for less militaristic toys saw it branch out into the Home Farm Series of animals, implements and other paraphernalia of the farm. It became a household name and the brand still exists although the firm was bought out by Ertl, another famous die-cast toy maker, in 1997.

The Fordson Major E27N tractor was launched from the Dagenham factory in 1945. It was a step up from the smaller pre-War type of Fordson and was available with hydraulic three-point linkage and a range of mounted implements. By 1951, 200,000 had been built for use in Britain and overseas.

1 comment:

Junior Farmer said...

As a child, I was memorised by old farm models, but only now have I become aware these wear old Britains model tractors. The condition of the model was perfect, but the quality of the outer box had seen its better days. It would be really nice to find out more about my old models but perhaps I did get the brand mixed up. I am a huge fan of the modern toy tractors by Britains farm toys today, more so now they are all made from die-cast metal.