G & R Wrenn
G & R Wrenn was a toy company specialising in the manufacture of model railways. It was founded in 1950 by George & Richard Wrenn. Its early product line was trackwork for OO scale model railway equipment. In 1960 G & R Wrenn branched out into electric car racing toys similar to Scalextric but smaller scale and capable of racing three cars at a time. Other products included battery-operated boats.
The mid 1960s were a bad time for the model trade and several companies collapsed. Lines Bros Ltd (operating as Tri-ang) bought up the Hornby Dublo line after the collapse of the Meccano Ltd empire and a year later bought a controlling share in G & R Wrenn. Wrenn were given the old Hornby Dublo moulds and continued to produce these models under the Wrenn name as well as acting as the distributor for the remaining unsold Dublo stocks. Around the same time the Wrenn car racing system—which competed with Lines Bros.-owned Scalextric—disappeared. Speculation has always been rife as to whether a deal was cut involving the Dublo moulds and the disappearance of the Wrenn racing system; but no details of any such arrangement have ever emerged in surviving records from the time. In 1968 Wrenn took on the same role with TT as it had with Dublo, and the 'Wrenn Table Top' name was used to sell off the remaining stocks of the abandoned Tri-ang 'TT' 3 mm scale models.
In 1971 the Lines Bros Ltd group collapsed into receivership. Wrenn bought itself free from the receiver and traded under the name 'Wrenn Railways' for some time thereafter, primarily selling mostly die-cast products from the former 'Hornby Dublo' line. Although they obtained rights to many of the Horby Dublo models, they did not acquire the Hornby brandname. Lines Bros had obtained this name as a result of buying up Hornby Dublo and used it as part of the name 'Tri-ang Hornby'. The Hornby name was subsequently sold to Rovex Ltd.
In 1992 G & R Wrenn finally closed down. Although they traded from 1972 to 1992 and kept a huge following they did little new manufacture beyond new liveries and numbering for the models they made. This was not to be the end however. Even as the closedown took place, Dapol was busy purchasing the remaining materials. Unfortunately, many of these materials—including many Wrenn company records—were later destroyed in a fire at Dapol and are lost forever.
Dapol made little use of the Wrenn material, selling a few wagons and reusing some of the designs in N gauge. In 2001 Dapol sold the name and most of the original tools and equipment to three collectors who have since released a small number of collectable items. Some other moulds which had been modified and improved by Dapol for the wagons manufactured at the Dapol plant remained in Dapol hands and have been used to make commemorative special releases for the Wrenn collectors club.