Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Around the corner ...

from my sister's new granny flat in the Sydney suburb of Annandale are lots of interesting places. Down the lane and right is Revolver, a cafe in a former corner store (photos from my sister's landlord's blog Me fail? I fly!):

Up the lane, right, and up the hill, are the Witches' Houses (including The Abbey, Oybin, Greba, Hockindon, Kenilworth and others):

And then, up the lane, right, and down the hill, is Trains Planes and Automobiles' Sydney store. Very luckily, I was in Sydney on the two days a week that it's open, so I was able to go in and browse. This is a lovely little shop, full of old wooden glass-fronted cases which display the said trains, cars and planes.

In one of the cases I found this lovely wooden station:

- a model representing Manchester station, which has a label identifying the maker as 'Scale HUGAR Model Buildings, HUGAR MODELS LTD. Epsom, Surrey.'

I hadn't heard of Hugar before, but found some information on the web: Hugar models were made by Hugh Gardner (apparently in his garden shed); Hugar was also known for his Britain’s farm and military items. The authors of the website which mentioned the Hugar farms planned a booklet on Hugar Models, and had found links between Hugar and other model railway makers including Basset Lowke.

(I have some Basset Lowke scale model posters - I intended to use some as pictures in the kids' bedroom of the Triang 52, but my attempt to frame them wasn't successful. I'll try again.)

I love the art deco style of this Hugar station. I also love how all the signs advertising tobacco have the possessive apostrophe s after Wills - they all read Wills's, with a small, superscript 's. I'm not sure yet how I will use it, as it's in the model railway scale OO (1:76). The platform is 2 feet long, and the entrance way onto the station is 2 1/8" high. Perhaps I will give it to some dolls house children to play with as a toy, or not worry too much about the scale and use it as a station with small dolls - or somehow put it in the distance so it looks the right scale!


  1. Your sister really is surrounded by treasures! The café looks very cozy and I really enjoyed the link to the Witches' Houses, fascinating buildings! I was especially intrigued by the central spire of the Kenilworth house and of course of the abbey! We live two minutes away from the ruin of an old church from the 14th century and our children have always loved to play in and around it.

    The railwaystation is wonderful, (you know how much I love the art deco style), and I think it's a great idea to put it at a distance to make it look the right scale. Mari and Bendik have thought of the same trick for wrong sized plastic animals. Since they were at a safari park this summer, they want to create something similar for Tomy and Annika :-)

    Love the posters too, especially the ones from Carlisle and Torquay, I hope you have better luck framing them the next time!

  2. its lovely and it doesn't matter how you use it, just having it is a joy.. annandale looks very interesting, i love old buildings. all too often they are demolished and replaced with something with no character.. :-)

  3. Pubdoll is right they are truly treasures. Christine makes a good point that we should treaure the old things around us before the disappear.
    Your are such a dectetive to find these unique toys and to tell us these charming facts about their makers befoe the information disappears too! Well done. CM

  4. I'm interested that you mention Bassett-Lowke engines, because I saw some recently at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh House at 78 Derngate in Northampton http://www.78derngate.org.uk/ which was owned by Bassett-Lowke who certainly had some interesting ideas about interior design (he didn't always do everything which Mackintosh suggested).

    The engines I saw were in some display cabinets in the house which is now a museum. The house is very Art deco modernist rather than the earlier, more familiar Art Nouveau CRM style and is the only CRM house outside of Scotland. Bassett-Lowke started his business in Northampton (he was a self-made man) and did very well, with the emphasis on craftsmanship, so he probably also used makers such as Hugar for some of his models.

  5. Thanks for sharing a bit of Australian history with us, Rebecca. Christine and CM are certainly right...how lucky to still have these wonderful old buildings that are so much a part of the history of your country. My dad was in Australia with the US Navy during WW2 and during my childhood he often talked about how impressed he was with the people and the land.
    I am looking forward to seeing what you will do with your lovely little station...

  6. Hi Helene, yes, the cafe is very cosy - it even has an open fire, though I didn't see it lit. The food is fantastic - I drank dark hot chocolate, mmmm, and had some of their wholemeal muffins - cherry, and banana and strawberry. Can't wait to go again!
    The Witches' Houses are harder to see from the street, as they have high sandstone walls at the front - but the spires, yes! From my sister's place, you can see the back of Kenilworth, in fact! The Abbey and one of the other houses have covered stairways going between different wings - oh, bliss. (Nothing like 14th century, of course! But for that kind of age in Australia we have to go to Aboriginal rock art and other sites.)
    The Carlisle poster is one I intend for the kids' room. I also love the sky and sea in the Ireland poster!

  7. Hi Christine, you're quite right, it is a joy just to have the station! I would like some of my dolls to enjoy it too, if I can work that out - so we'll see. I certainly didn't hesitate about buying it because of the scale!
    Indeed, we have many cases of buildings demolished and replaced with monstrosities in Australia - and two of these were demolished in the late 60s - thank goodness not all of them!

  8. Thanks, CM! I must give credit to google - put in my sister's address on google maps, ask what antique, vintage and secondhand shops are around, and get a little map of them! So much is easier with the internet. And of course I googled Hugar, to find the other sites with info. Hope I'll get to the other Trains, Planes and Automobiles shop before too long, too!

  9. Than you, Doll Mum, that is fascinating! I didn't know there was a CRM house in Northampton - I'd love to see it, if I ever get to Northamptonshire (have ancestors from King's Cliffe, so it's on my list...) It would be great to see both the house and the museum displays. Basset Lowke also made some dolls house furniture, though I haven't seen any - Wendy Gater, now Stephen, was planning an article about it, that's why I'd scanned my Basset Lowke posters. I'll try to get hold of those pamphlets mentioned in one of the websites I found, should be interesting.

  10. Thank you, Florine - these particular old buildings seem to be pretty well documented, but well known or not, I'm always fascinated by old buildings - like a former corner shop on the street my sister just moved from, which had the remains of purple colour on the side wall from where it previously had a Cadbury chocolate ad painted on - and the small factory-like building down another street, no sign of what it might have been ...
    I'm sure you've mentioned your father being in Australia before, but I'm not sure if I've asked where he was? Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, somewhere else?