Frank Hornby (1863-1936) was one of the leading names in the toy train market. Famous as the inventor of Meccano, Hornby produced his first clockwork train in 1920. The early train sets consisted of a locomotive, a tender, an open wagon and lengths of track. The train was made of separate parts held together using Meccano nuts and bolts and was constructed in such a way that it could be dismantled.

The 1920s and 1930s saw Hornby making a large range of wagons, vans, goods vehicles and accessories. This was the golden age of trains for the toy industry, triggering a collecting craze which survives to this day. For almost twenty years Hornby trains were made in one size – Gauge 0. In 1938, due to the public demand for smaller train sets, Hornby introduced its 00 sets, called Dublo (as in Double O).

Hornby have been making electric trains since 1925. The Hogwarts Express was launched in 2001 following the success of the Harry Potter series of novels by J. K. Rowling. It is a model of the fictional, magical train that features in the books and films.