‘Tri-ang Strong Toys’: Lines Brothers and British Motor Sport in the Inter-War Period
This article explores the confluence of British motor sport, toy car manufacture and leisure during the period from 1919 to 1939. Mass- production toy-making had been bound up with the manufacture of sporting and fancy goods from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. Motorised transport benefitted from many of the same practices and light engineering techniques honed in cycle manufacture. The fashionable Brooklands circuit was established before the First World War as a proving ground for aeronautical and motorised transport. However, as motor racing resumed during peacetime, especially at Brook- lands, a certain upper-class glamour attached to car ownership, whether for racing, leisure or pleasure. The most significant producer of a range of toy vehicles, Lines Brothers, began as family woodworking firm in the 1870s and could legitimately claim to be the largest toy multinational in the world by 1950. Its ‘Tri-ang’ brand of ‘strong toys’ were engineered using similar principles to the mass-produced automotive industry. By the 1930s the toy pedal car would become the ultimate child’s accessory, with models of racing marques and other leisure vehicles available at a range of price points. The vehicles allowed children to sit inside and pedal their way around, allowing a degree of freedom and exploration. Manufacturers therefore referenced the sport and leisure practices of adults in creating aspirational pedal cars for child consumers. This raises the question of the extent to which these objects socialised children into ‘adult’ worlds, not just of sport and leisure but also urban and suburban consumer culture and how this, in turn, affected notions of play.
Citation : Willimas, J. (2015) ‘Tri-ang Strong Toys’: Lines Brothers and British Motor Sport in the Inter-War Period. Sport in History, online first
Research Group : International Centre for Sports History and Culture
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities