The Royal Chester and The Art of Model Engineering

The Allchin traction engine ‘Royal Chester’

The Royal Chester was the last traction engine made by Allchin of Northampton in 1925 and has been an inspiration to model engineers.

Allchin was founded in 1847 by William Allchin at the Globe Works in Northampton. The firm built its first steam engine in 1872. In 1900 the firm became William Allchin & Sons Ltd. The high quality of its manufacturing was greatly admired.

The Royal Chester was a 7hp general purpose agricultural traction engine. Her makers had intended to show her at the Royal Show at Chester in 1925 but sent a steam wagon instead. Nevertheless, the Royal Chester name has been associated with her ever since. W. J. Hughes first came across her in 1948 whilst out cycling looking for engines. She was in the yard of J.G. & B. Earnshaw, a firm of threshing contractors in east Derbyshire. The Earnshaw brothers allowed him to return often to measure the engine. Hughes would prepare a full set of blueprint drawings of all the component parts necessary to build a 1 1/2 inch scale model. Hughes was also responsible for persuading Chris Lambert, a pioneer preservationist, to buy her saving her from the fate of being cut up for scrap. Chris Lambert would restore her.

A live-steam 1 1/2 inch scale model of the Allchin traction engine ‘Royal Chester’

My whole life I have adored steam locomotives and traction engines: the drama of their scale, the smell and whoosh of steam and the characters of the different engines. All of these qualities are distilled in the scale model replicas.

The Royal Chester is one of the most famous Allchin engines and has been the standard upon which many model replicas have been based, like the example illustrated which sold in a specialist auction at Toovey’s for £1000.

Model engineers seek to construct fine scaled miniature working models of full sized machines. Castings are often purchased, finished and assembled by a model engineer with great attention to detail and accuracy based on drawings like those of W.J. Hughes. Model engineers often make live steam examples of locomotives, traction engines, stationary engines and marine engines.

Toovey’s toy and model specialist Chris Gale already has a number of live steam models entered for his next specialist sale on Wednesday 20th March 2023 and is inviting further entries.

Steam engines have such life and whether full-size or scale replicas they are engineered to the most remarkable tolerances and are highly valued.

Celebrating 40 Years as an Auctioneer and Valuer

Toovey’s Toy specialist, Auctioneer and Valuer, Chris Gale

Chris Gale is celebrating his 40th anniversary as an auctioneer and valuer.

40 years in a profession is cause for celebration and the depth of expertise that time, experience and wisdom brings is apparent in all that Chris does.

He is one of the people I most respect in our profession.

I first met Chris Gale in Horsham, some 39 years ago when we were both starting out and working at Horsham Auction Galleries in the Carfax.

Chris says “Even in those days you wanted your own saleroom, or to be a Vicar.”

The friendship that was born in those days has endured and we have worked together continuously over all these years.

A hugely respected valuer and auctioneer. He maintains an unwavering care for the interest of our clients and the highest professional standards.

Throughout his career Chris has focused his exceptional eye on all the major collecting disciplines. He says “We forget that nothing was ever made in isolation. A Georgian cabinet was made to have a Georgian painting and a pair of candlesticks to accompany it.” But alongside his extraordinary breadth of knowledge Chris is one of the most highly respected toy specialists in the country. Over the years several millions of pounds worth of toys have been sold under his gavel.

An array of toys at Toovey’s

Chris comments “Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox, model trains, dolls, teddy bears, and tinplate toys are still celebrated by collectors and those recapturing their childhoods. Often objects speak of happy times in our lives. When I grew up, the youngest of six, the few toys we had were precious. As a boy my Dad took me to the Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset and bought me a Dinky Toys, 155mm tank which I’ve never forgotten. Dads Hornby, Dublo OO gauge model railway was to be admired but not touched in those days. These days, it’s too busy in the toy department to play with them – but they’re still to be admired!”

I ask Chris what he loves most about his job. He replies “The thing I love most about my job is the team at Tooveys – it’s like a family, it is family. There is something special in helping people as they acquire or sell their collections. The trust they place in you and how appreciative they are once the things have been sold. I still look forward to every day and the future. Even after 40 years, you never stop learning in this business.”

As I thank Chris his face breaks into a smile and he sets out to take the auction.