For a humble steam model company, Mamod has had to overcome some pretty difficult challenges since its establishment in the 1930s. From a world war to a World Cup to two recessions, the firm has persisted and still stands strong to this very day. In this three part series, we look back at the trials and tribulations Mamod has been through over the years.
We start at the very beginning as Mamod begins its life in a small corner of Birmingham.
Founded in 1934, Mamod first opened its doors in Birmingham's 'Gun Quarter' spearheaded by Geoffrey Malins. Mr Malins had built on his hobby of creating small toys in his garden shed and turned it into a business. It would be a few years, however, until people would know the company as Mamod.
In these early days, Mr Malins built turntables which were suitable for Meccano and other toys along with a brass propeller for model boats. All the products were sold through toy firm Hobbies thanks to a partnership between Mr Malins and Geoffrey Bowman. Together they produced the highly successful Bowman Range which ran until 1935.
A breakdown in the relationship saw Mr Malins branch out on his own allowing him to make what would be the Mamod brand his own. He did not rest on his laurels and in 1936 the SE1, 2, 3 and the twin cylinder SE4 stationary engines were launched, all donning the Hobbies badge. Despite the high volume being produced, Mr Malins was not happy.
He was recorded as saying in 1936: "I made 576 engines in that year. They were the worst I ever made as I had to begin at the beginning and find out everything.”
The split from Hobbies required Mr Malins to think differently and with new ideas came the need for a new name. Mamod may seem like an odd title but it is simple a combination of Malins Models, so in 1937 the Mamod brand was born.
With a new name came a slight departure from what Mamod had been originally producing. While still making engines for Hobbies it also had a range of signature models carrying the Mamod badge. One of the key engines to come out of this period was the legendary SE4, a model that is still sought after to this very day.
As Mamod continued to expand, things were about to change in a huge way as the onset of World War II edged ever closer.
In 1935, Italy had started its offensive and a year later had renounced its membership in the League of Nations and Europe prepared for war. Production of the SE continued but as the potential of these models was about to show, manufacturing would end as the company switched to the war effort.
With only a matter of years till the outbreak, Mr Malins moved away from working with Hobbies and concentrated on the development of his own engines. He believed there was more money to be made out of signature Mamod products.
However, by 1940 all production was ceased as war raged.