Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Michael Henry Brooks

23 OCTOBER 1935 – 26 OCTOBER 2019

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Michael Brooks, the founder of Masterpiece Models, after several months of illness. Michael died peacefully surrounded by his family.

Michael had a long career in civil aviation working his way into senior managerial positions in market research and marketing at BOAC and subsequently British Airways. An early project saw Michael’s work used as research evidence for the Washington Congressional hearings on Concorde landing rights in the USA. In his final role he had responsibility for major commercial operations in North America for BA.

Michael always had a passion for railways, particularly steam locomotives. He was an avid collector of railwayana, much of which came from closed lines in East Anglia which were always especially dear to him. Michael wrote several articles for railway journals including a well-researched item on the GWR/BR Western Region ‘Castle’ locomotives named after World War 2 aircraft.

Michael became an early member of the Scale7 Group modelling the Great Eastern in the early 1950s. He had a wonderful Great Eastern Scale7 layout, ‘Monks Eleigh’, based on a planned but never built line in Suffolk.

In 2007 Michael established Masterpiece Models. From 2007 to 2016 he produced nearly 950 top quality 7mm:1ft scale British outline model locomotives. These models were rapidly acknowledged for setting entirely new standards in the ready-to-run market. They were, and still are, in great demand. To the end Michael continued to take a great interest in Masterpiece Models. We met up regularly for discussions on aviation and trains. He also had a great interest in political events in the UK and around the world.

Michael will be sorely missed by all his friends. We extend our condolences to Miriam, Melissa, Michele and Matthew and all the members of his family.

John Borkowski
29 October 2019

Update 8 October 2019

First I would like thank everyone who came to visit our stand at the Telford and Swindon shows. At Swindon on the Sunday we displayed for the first time Adrian’s double track Scale 7 diorama as shown on the website with Taunton Castle and also the LT weathered Pannier. We hope to have the diorama on display also at the Bristol Show in January. It's always a great pleasure to meet you when you come to the stand, whether it's just to look at our offerings or to discuss any matter of interest. We are always keen to hear your views on new models, even if it takes time for us to get them made!

I am sorry there has been such a long gap since the last news bulletin. Why has it taken so long? The answer is that we have been very (very) busy working virtually every day fitting out engines to meet specific requests from customers, delivering engines to the remoter parts of the UK, preparing for the two-day shows, constantly corresponding with the builders and visiting Korea, not mention traveling to a number of preserved railway workshops to check out and gather more information on engines that we are building. It all takes so much time, especially as the special requests are carried out by Colin Dowling which means I have to travel to Stowmarket.

49XX Halls and 6959 Modified Halls
We have worked extensively on the detail for the Halls and Modified Halls programme, discovering more complexities in the build as our research became deeper and deeper. There are four types of cab, (five if you include some engines modified when being converted back from oil burning to coal). Originally we had planned to offer only the 49XX Collett Halls, but we discovered many of you wanted 59XX and 69XX Collet Halls, so we widened the choice. We were then faced with the question of whether we should offer the Modified Halls as a separate, later programme? We soon realised that everyone had already waited a long time for the Collett Halls, so it made sense to offer the Modified Halls at the same time.

There is also the question of different oil pipe covers on the smokebox upper flanks and, of course, the selection of chimneys. On the Modified Halls we discovered that not all engines fitted with the tall ID chimneys kept them. Some reverted to Grange chimneys so that the chimney pattern changed quite often over the engines’ service lives. For the oil pipe covers the work we did earlier on the Granges has proved to be invaluable. Frequent changes of the pattern of oil covers occurred as boilers were swapped around. We have tried to get this right as far as we can for all the individual Collett original and Hawksworth Modified Halls.

While I was in Korea the builders showed me the castings for the mechanical lubricators on the late Modified Halls. The finish on the castings was simply exquisite. These late Modified Halls will be very special engines. There are a few Collett Hall's available in GWR and BR livery, as well as a few Modified Hall, all in BR livery.

28XX/38XX Programme
In late July I received a request from the builders for additional information on the footplate of the square-frame 28XX engines. This resulted in a visit to Swindon Steam Museum to take about 50 pictures of 2808 which is preserved in its late BR condition without outside steam pipes with the original square frames, but painted in GWR plain green. We uncovered a lot more detail on the complex relationship between the cylinder casings and the footplate drop frame section.

We also took the opportunity of providing detailed photographs of the riveting on the footplate and cab sides. The 28XX models with no outside steam pipes and square frames make an interesting variation of the 28XX series. In case anyone is interested, there are some engines still available in this configuration, both in plain GWR green and BR plain black.

28XXcylinder

Both the 28XX/38XX and Hall and Modified Hall engines are in production. The tenders are complete and the builders are now working on the locomotive bodies and chassis.

Class 52 Western
These models are now largely complete. As part of the process of ensuring the model are as accurate as they possibly can be, we decided to double check the exact shape of the cab front windows and roof overhang by taking tracings, measurements and angles from an actual locomotive. To do this Adrian and I went down to Williton in August where we were able to trace the windscreen and characteristic 'hood', as well as taking key measurements on D1010 Western Campaigner.

Measuring1010

We are pleased to confirm that the window shape on the model – which we had already revised with the builder – was correct, but some further changes were required on the hood. We had a wonderful day clambering over the front of the engine thanks to a marvellous purpose-designed access frame. We have passed all these details, photographs, measurements and drawings to the builder to correct the hoods. We are most grateful to the Diesel & Electric Traction Group for giving us privileged access to D1010.

Grange and Class 47XX
We have now sold out of Granges in GWR livery except for one engine in Scale 7 used as demonstrator. We still have a good choice of BR plain Black and BR lined green engines available with Churchward 3,500 gallon, Collett 3,500 gallon and Collett 4,000 gallon tenders. Very few Scale7 engines remain.

On the 47XX we still have a few BR plain black and some (not many) BR lined green engines. There remains a good choice of GWR plain green engines. All the lined black BR engines have now gone. We have a few engines left in Scale7.

57XX and 8750 Panniers
There is a good choice of 57XX and 8750 locomotives, both in GWR green and GWR black, as well as a few BR engines. All the original LT engines have gone, but the demand for these has been such that we are planning a further run up to 12 additional LT engines, all in O gauge. There are very few BR top feed engines left and no GWR riveted tank 57XX models remain. We can offer some 57XX engines in GWR green in early configuration. One customer has asked us to make a special 67XX dock shunter. When it is ready we will try to post some pictures. Scale 7 engines are now very scarce. We still have to deliver a number of engines including two S7 LT engines to Italy and the USA.

45XX Prairies
Only a few engines are now left – mainly Type 3 flat tanks (with extended buffer beams and no outside steam pipes) in GWR plain green in O gauge, and Type 5 sloping tanks in BR lined green. All type 1 and 2 engines have gone or are sold awaiting conversion. We have one type 4 and also one example of my favourite engine – 4507 in BR lined green in Scale 7. Someone must have this iconic old fashioned engine that should have been saved from the breakers.

70XX Castles
We still have a good choice of single chimney engines, but double chimney engines are down to the last few. There is only one GWR livery one single chimney engine left. We can still offer Clun Castle, Great Western and Gloucester Castle. If you would like a particular engine please contact us with your request.

50XX Castles
We have one BR lined green engine in weathered form and 3 pristine GWR Castles, all pre-owned.
Available engines are:
5018 St Mawes Castle Collett 4000 gallon tender GWR Green
5034 Corfe Castle Collet 4000 gallon tender GWR green
5038 Morlais Castle Collett 4000 gallon tender GWR green
5047 Earl of Dartmouth Collett 4000 gallon tender BR lined green weathered by Martin Welch. This is a superb example of a weathered engine.

70XXX Britannia
We have just taken delivery of pre-owned 70010 Owen Glendower in early BR Lion-over-Wheel livery in 'as new' condition; it has had little running and is superb. The customer is a reluctant seller, due to space. This is a lovely locomotive but despite its interesting name is an Eastern Region engine. If you want a Britannia this is really one worth considering. The Lion-over-wheel engines were much better executed than the totem versions.

Duchess: LMS Red Streamliner 6242 City of Glasgow
Again, our customer has decided to sell due to lack of space. This is a double chimney red (Crimson Lake) streamlined Princess Coronation (Duchess) locomotive, little used and in excellent condition. This a rare chance to acquire a double chimney streamliner (not many were made by us). The original engine, after removal of the streamlined casing, was involved in the horrendous Harrow rail crash and was subsequently repaired, having the front footplate changed from the utility open to the curved drop frame. I saw it in BR lined green livery with the curved drop frame as a small boy in 1958 at Crewe Shed while passing on an express from Euston to Liverpool Lime Street hauled by Rebuilt Patriot, E Tootal Broadhurst. If you would like a streamlined Duchess in pristine form please consider buying this locomotive. Also it looks much better with the double chimney.

73XXX Standard Class 5
This project has been held up by the delay on the Class 52 Western. We have asked the builder to produce a sample of the Caprotti engine.

Rebuilt Royal Scot/Rebuilt Patriot/Rebuilt Jubilee and British Legion
We have received the drawings and sent them to the builder. The new Wild Swan Book on the Royal Scots has come out just at the right time. I would like to acknowledge and to thank David Hunt, one of the authors of the Wild Swan Book, for his wonderful help with the drawings. We need to decide how best to work this programme. Bob Meanley has also very kindly drawn up detailed schedules of the differences in the various classes. We are most grateful to Bob and David for all their encouragement and help with this project.

John Borkowski
8 October 2019

Update 15 June 2019

ModelRailReview0719

“You buy a model like this because you want the very best”

So says Richard Foster, editor of Model Rail magazine who has reviewed our 70XX ‘Castles’ in the July issue (No. 262).

Thanks to our chief engineer Bob Meanley and the builders – especially Mr Kwon – we think they really capture the look of the real engine. Now we have an independent review from an eminent modeller who is clearly impressed. Richard subjected two locomotives to Model Rail’s critical scrutiny – original condition single chimney 7023 Denbigh Castle in finescale 0 gauge, and double chimney 7007 Great Western in Scale7 fitted with Superwheels.

His assessment? “These aren’t model locomotives; they’re scaled-down replicas of the real thing.” He goes on to describe the performance: “These models aren’t just for mantlepieces – they’re designed to work. The motor is what Dave Lowery describes as “the most powerful around.” Denbigh Castle performed superbly on Dave’s layout, handling heavy trains of brass rolling stock with ease.”

The Model Rail photographer has taken some terrific pictures to go with the review, so I do urge you to pick up a copy. As well as the review, the issue is packed with interesting features on models of all scales, plus plenty of helpful ‘how-to’ advice.

We still have a few 70XX ‘Castles’ available, including Nos. 5098 and 5099. Call us for details, but remember: when they’re gone, they’re gone, so don’t leave I too long if you want the best 7mm ‘Castle’!

Doncaster Show
First a big thank you to all who visited our stand at the Doncaster Show. I hope that none of you were put off because we were very busy at some times. At least you had a chance to look at a non-GWR MM locomotive – the Standard Class 5 first sample model. We are now also working on the LMS/BR 7P Rebuilt 4-6-0s and we hope to get these started as soon as the ‘Halls’ and 28XXs are completed.

LT Panniers
We have now sold all our LT Panniers including the Scale7 one I had hoped to keep for my own layout. The demand for these models has significantly exceeded all our expectations, so we are considering making a small batch of additional engines. If you would like an LT engine please do contact us soon as we expect them to go quickly.

Despatch of Locomotives to Non-UK Customers
We have now set up the export courier account for despatch of models to non-UK customers. So we are gradually working the models into finished condition and will contact you individually as soon as they are ready.

John Borkowski
15 June 2019.

Update 28 May 2019

Doncaster Show

Just to let you all know that we will be coming to the Doncaster Show on Saturday (June 1). We will have the Standard Class 5 first sample model and a selection of our other existing models for display and purchase. Also we will deliver models to those of you who have made a special request to collect your models. We look forward to seeing you all and discussing your interests and any related railway topics.

Diorama

7036Occasionally in life you get a really nice surprise. Yesterday my colleague Adrian Knowles sent me some photographs of a diorama he has been working on quietly in the background and has now completed. I knew he was working on something, but I thought it would emerge sometime in 2020 not in May 2019. When I saw the photographs I was amazed and it really is superb, so I thought we would share it with you. Yes, it is in built in Scaleseven, our preferred gauge, but it really sets off the locomotives especially the weathered red LT Pannier and the 'Castle' fitted with ultra-fine milled Superwheels.

The realism of the Castle wheels is simply staggering set against the beautifully ballasted track and the brickwork arches.

80871a

The pannier looks perfect shuffling around in front of some arched brickwork emerging from the darkness of the tunnel. All that is missing is the steam, smoke and smell of burning coal, otherwise it is all there.

80841

This wonderful piece of work by Adrian really shows S7 at its best. Well done Adrian I could never have achieved this with my limited layout building skills in 100 years!

John Borkowski
28 May 2019

Update 9 May 2019

70XX 'Castles'
We still have a good choice of BR engines especially single chimney versions and a few GWR locomotives. There are one or two double chimney engines also available mainly in O gauge finescale. We have some interesting names still available.

45XX/4575s
On the 45XX flat tank engines we have a few engines left as shown on the website. We are out of Type 2 locomotives and we have one Type 1 available in Scale 7. We have a good choice of Type 3 engines still available in GWR, but only one black BR version left. Our last 4507 in BR lined green has now been sold. On Type 4s we have one GWR and one BR green engine left. For Type 5s (sloping tank) most of the remaining engines are Scale 7. We have a LIMITED possibility of wheel swops O gauge for S7 and vice-versa, but this is not a simple task as it requires both Colin and I to carry out the changes.

Pannier 57XX and 8750
Colin and I continue to work on the Pannier programme preparing individual locomotives for customers. As Colin is Suffolk and has just moved house with lots of house jobs to do, it is taking a little longer than we expected to get all the engines ready. Also it is a long way from Reigate, so visit journeys need careful planning.

In terms of availability we are down to our last two LT panniers, but there is a good choice of GWR and BR 57XXs early cab engines still available. On 8750s (late cab engines) we are very short of BR top feed versions but still have plenty of GWR green and black engines available.

'Grange' and 47XX
We have sold out of lined black BR Granges but still have a few BR plain black engines. There is a good choice of BR Lined green and a few GWR plain green engines left.

On 47XX there are a number of GWR plain green and BR lined green engines with Collett 4000 gallon tenders still available. There are a few black engines also available for the BR period.

49XX and 6959 'Halls'
The build of these engines is well underway. There are a few engines both Collett and Hawksworth still available. If you want to choose your engine name number and livery (not shown on the website list) please contact us as soon as possible otherwise it will be too late. We will be requesting payments for these engines shortly.

28XX/38XX
This build is programmed for the same time as the 49XX/6969 programme and is well underway. Payments for these engines will also be requested shortly.

Class 52 'Western' Diesel Hydraulic
This model is now in full production with the final changes now being incorporated in the build.

Pre-owned
We have two 50XX Castles (one BR and one GWR) and two GWR Kings available all in O gauge. We also have a brand new unused Britannia 70006 Robert Burns available in O gauge. Please contact us if you are interested in any of these models.

Export orders
Due to concerns on the way couriers treat our parcels we have had to take special steps to prepare the packaging of our models for shipment abroad. This has required a lot of individual work by me. We are now underway with the preparation of the additional packaging so we hope to get the models sent off over the next few weeks.

Reading Show
We will be at the Reading Show on Saturday 11 May, so do come along to our stand to have a chat and look at our models. We will have the Standard Class 5 preproduction prototype on the stand for you to see. I look forward to seeing you all there.

John Borkowski/09 May 2019.