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John Barrett started Barrett Engineering in 1980 building GW Pannier tanks in the back of his garage. He initially only built ready to run locomotives, but as the production team grew and his son Steven joined the company, a range of kits was produced.
In 2013 John Barrett retired, and Steven took over as director. The company changed its name to Barrett Steam Models LTD, and with its current 5 members of staff, produces around 50 loco kits a year.
Last year (2020) our company quietly celebrated its 40th birthday. Our range currently includes over 20 different locos and a small selection of gauge 1 accessories, including a footbridge and station benches. A range of Dean Clerestory coaches is also being redesigned ready for production next year.

Looking to the future, the business is hoping to progress into larger gauges, with a Gauge 3 model currently going through its prototype stage.

A breif history of Barrett Models

May 1978

John Barrett started construction of LBSC's 'Chingford Express' on May day bank holiday

July 1978

Chingford express is steam tested for the first time, on a makeshift test track.

The track at this point was 12ft long, made of 1/2" angle and wooden batons


John goes self-employed under the name BARRETT ENGINEERING

The 6ft x 12ft home workshop was set up, and the first machinery was purchesed, including ML10 Lathe

John began completing restorations, repairs, and the occasional 'ive been collecting bits for a .... can you finish it' 

Feb 1980, the first official order for a newly designed loco

Garden test track progressed to a single oval circuit, 30ft x 20ft, with handbuilt sleepers and whitemetal chairs

April 1982

A small factory was opened in walsall employing 3 full time workers:-

one building coaches, one assisting building locos, and a 'YTS' lad trained in machining (Lez Allen now of Walsall Model Industries)

Johns wife Lynn helped out counting parts and keeping the books in order


Garden track improvements. The new layout is 2ft high, forming a 170 ft double circuit. A brickwork area is built for the loco yard, station and carriage sidings.

April 1988

Factory closes following staffing issues.

John creates a workshop in the garage, now 12ft x 12ft


Garage workshop extended to 26ft x 12ft!!

Aug 1992 - Sept 1993

Steve temporarily employed after university developing CAD for etching artworks

July 1995

Steve returns machining bits for britannias'

April 1997

The business moved into 'The Old Exchange' and employs 2 new staff members

July 1998

Anthony returns from music college and joins the business building BR 9F's

Jan 2000

Partnerships are formed;

John and Anthony continue Barrett Engineering to make ready to run locomotives

John and Steve set up Barrett Engineering Services manufacturing kits

Feb 2007

Steves wife Sheila joins the company


Anthony leaves the business to persue a career in musical instrument manufacturing

Barrett Engineering is absorbed into Barrett Engineering Services

Dec 2011

Jamie is taken on as an apprentice

Feb 2013

John retires due to ill health, and Steve sets up Barrett Steam Models LTD with 7 employees

Sept 2020

Steves daughter Mel joins the business full time producuing ready to run locos

Sept 2021

The business now employes 5 staff, and is looking forward to the next 40 years of production

About Gauge 1

Gauge 1 is usually regarded as one of the largest model railway scales. Its size allows the reliable operation for live steam models, as well as electric models.

There are currently multiple scales related to gauge 1.

10mm: 1 ft ( 1/30.5 scale) is the current scale we use for our models. Established in 1920 by H.Greenly it is still the most predominant scale used for Gauge 1 in the UK.

3/8" : 1 ft (1/32 scale) is a finer scale used more recently by overseas commercial manufacturers.

For those of you thinking of building a Gauge 1 layout, the following dimensions may be useful:

  • minimum curve radius is 7ft for short 0-6-0 locos

  • 8 ft radius is suitable for most 4-6-0`s

  • 9ft will suit all but the largest pacific locos

A 10ft radius should suit all British prototypes

The Gauge One Model Railway Association

 This association now has over 2000 members worldwide, representing every area of the hobby. 

Most of the associations activities involve 'Get togethers', where members with suitable garden railways open there gardens for other members to go and run there engines. There are some larger regional groups forming, enabling larger events and meetings to take place.

For more information about Gauge 1, please feel free to visit the following website:

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