In November 1973, Les Horton bought his son, Rob, a suitcase full of second hand clockwork Hornby trains for his birthday. For Les, this marked the re-awakening of his childhood passion for all things Hornby and so he began collecting asdad much as he could of pre-war Hornby 0 gauge trains. Many of the examples he bought from jumble sales at prices that would cause a gold rush these days. Many were very tatty and required extensive restoration to bring them up to scratch., Austhentic looking transfers were required to put the finishing touches to these newly restored models but, due to a lack of available supply, Les took it upon himself to learn the screen printing process and set about printing the transfers he required for his needs. word soon got out about his newly developed skills and so he began supplying transfers to members of the recently formed HRCA (Hornby Railway Collectors Association). In these early days he laboriously printed his transfers one at a time using very primitive equipment. The equipment he used was very primitive, and the lack of step and repeat equipment meant that each transfer was printed one at a time, regardless of small they were. However, the results were superb and caused much interest amongst collectors of Hornby trains, so much so that he began to expand upon his small business by offering a bespoke transfer printing service to fellow collectors and model makers. In 1990, as demand grew, Rob was introduced to the business part time with the responsibility of producing all the newly required artwork to extend Les’s Hornby transfer range, and to keep up with the ever increasing demand for commissioned transfers. This same year, Les decided to take early retirment from his full time job and concentrate on the new business. And so Wessex Transfers was born.
BobIn 1991, Les and Rob acquired their first computer, inkjet printer and a copy of the latest graphic design software, CorelDraw. Although it was early days for this type of set up, the equipment soon became invaluable as it enabled fresh artwork to be drawn and step and repeated, enabling transfers to be printed in a much more efficient manner. By 1993 Les was struggling to keep up with demand for his transfers, and so rob joined the business as a full time partner.
For the next five years they continued to broaden their range of replica Hornby Transfers and also introduced a range of spare parts including reproduction fishplates, brass control knobs, coach destination boards, t in printed No. “0” style van sides and complete, ready to run “Horton Series” model railway vans and wagons, all of which proved to be in great demand. Interest in their commissioned water slide transfers continued to grow until in late 1997 the business was split, with rob taking on the commissioned work and Les continuing with the Hornby side of the business. the arrsngement wasn’t to last long though as Les sadly passed away in March 1998.
In mid 1998 rob purchased a model shop (Railway Mart) in Southbourne, Bournemouth UK, and continued to print th the custome bespoke transfers and the reproduction Hornby transfers in the back area of the shop. the tooling and machinery required to produce the Hornby spare parts and ready to run ans and wagons was gradually sold off enabling rob to focus entirely on printing transfers while his wife looked after the retail side of the shop.
In January 2002 the shop was sold and the printing business moved to a large workshop in the back garden. Then, in 2007, ob and his family moved to Tasmania, Australia taking the printing business with them. Some very difficult times ensued and Rob and his wife separated in late 2009. Sadly rob’s wife passed away in April 2011 leaving two young children, who Rob now cares for full time.
During 2013, Rob invested in new te of the art digital printing and laser engraving/cutting equipment and set about the re-introduction of the Horton Series range of tin-plate rolling stock. The transfer printing business has also taken a new lease of life with the aquisition of new digital printing equipment to compliment his existing screen printing and Alps decal printing services.
Copyright Wessex Transfers 2014