GAUGEMASTER – The History
Gaugemaster Controls and the Engine Shed were formed in 1975 and 1974 respectively as two separate businesses, The Engine Shed - a local model shop in Bognor Regis, and Gaugemaster - an electronic sub assembly business in Worthing.
The original Engine Shed store in Madeira Parade, Bognor Regis
In 1977 the first Gaugemaster Controller was produced, there being a demand for modern electronic controllers for the adult modeller which at that time was not being catered for. Between 1977 and 1982 both businesses became established, and after working together for a period, were joined together in the spring of 1982. During the early 1980s a Mail Order department was started in addition to the shop, and then in 1984 a second shop was purchased in Worthing.
After extensive renovation, the Worthing shop opened in November 1984. Between 1984 and 1987 the two retail shops both grew, together with an increase in mail order business, but most particularly the manufacturing of Gaugemaster controllers/transformers. Their distribution to the retail trade became established, and this made Gaugemaster the largest UK producer of model railway controllers and transformers.
Model GMC-D Twin Track Cased Controller, our best selling controller.
At the same time wholesale lines were added to complement our range of controllers. This growth made it necessary and desirable to find new larger premises, and so in the spring of 1988 we purchased the Station Goods Yard at Ford Railway Station near Arundel in West Sussex. After planning and other preparations, site clearance and building commenced in August 1988.
Gaugemaster House just after completion in March 1989
Our building was completed in March 1989 with the Grand Opening, which was attended by many of our suppliers, on 21st April 1989. The building is 11,000 square feet (nearly 1,000 square metres) and consists of a retail showroom, mail order department, packing area, warehousing, workshops andoffices. At this time, we closed all our other older premises. Building continued at Ford with a further 13 light industrial units being built on the site known as the Gaugemaster Industrial Estate.
The Engine Shed store at Gaugemaster House shortly after opening
Soon after this we expanded our distribution further, firstly with Preiser figures and then the Slot Car range SCX. The business continued to grow and further additions to our model railway wholesale ranges included names as famous as Marklin, Trix, Piko, Faller, Pola, Noch and Viessmann from the continent, as well as many established UK ranges. We also continued to add slot car ranges to our portfolio of products including Fly Car Model, but our biggest growth area was in Gaugemaster branded products with scenic products and model railway accessories proving popular, as they are to this day.
The GM194 Scenic Starter Pack
In 2005, we launched our digital control system Prodigy at one of our successful biennial Open Weekends, which regularly attract 4,000+ crowds. 2008 was the year where we unveiled Bahnhof Europa - our 90 square metre "Model Railway Boutique". This was opened in September by Dr Rene F Wilfer of PIKO and this store has already gained much praise for its elegant design and high-quality product presentation, said to be amongst the best in Europe.
Bahnhof Europa Scenic Diarama
2009 saw Atlas, Kato and NSR join the portfolio of ranges that we distribute to the UK trade and we have contributed to the visibility of these brands in the UK as a result.
In 2009 we bought the Kestrel Designs range and added these popular N Scale building kits to the Gaugemaster Scenics range, and the beginning of 2012 we gained sole UK distributorship of the famous Roco and Fleischmann brands, further increasing our pantheon of continental ranges.
In June 2015 we agreed to distribute Slot It, one of the finest slot car ranges in Europe, and also launched our Gaugemaster Highways range. In 2018, the Gaugemaster Collection was born – a range of exclusively commissioned RTR products in N, OO and O while 2019 saw us announce a partnership with legendary UK company Hornby - distributing their Airfix, Arnold, Electrotren, Humbrol, Jouef, Lima, Pocher and Rivarossi brands in the UK Increased distributorships and stockholding has led to Gaugemaster expanding into several other units on the Ford Station Yard estate, and while still being family-owned but with a dynamic team in place, we are looking forward to the future with optimism and enthusiasm.
However, it is important to recognise that none of this would have been possible without the support of our customers, who we value immensely, and we would like to thank you for such support and wish all of you, ongoing and happy modelling.
Staff Photo February 2019 - click image for a larger version.
Gaugemaster House 2019