Models at the terminus
Forward Models (Birmingham) Limited has announced that it is closing
down. The announcement was made following the retirement of the
founder, Derek Perry, due to ill health and prices rises which
affected the sale of new models.
The company was set up by in 2011 by Derek who wanted to make a few
models of the buses he remembered growing up in Birmingham in the
1950s and 1960s. He approached a model maker in Wales, Autodromo, who
agreed to prepare prototype models. Through them he was introduced to
Godfrey Crompton who had contacts in the Chinese die-cast model
Instead of the expected handful of models, Derek went on to produce
over 4,000 buses.
Our first model. A Birmingham tin front numbered NGS-01.
These first models were all Birmingham 'Standards' as produced
from 1947 including 'tin fronts' and Crossley radiators. They were
well-received, being the first mass-produced models of the unique
buses built for England's second city. Further models were produced
in WMPTE livery and later in Edinburgh, Hull and Newcastle colours.
The models were notable for their well-researched and accurate
Plans were made to modify the tooling to enable the production of
'tin fronts' from other operators. This style of bus, developed since
the late 1940s and incorporating new lightweight bodies, had become
the epitome of bus design in Britain during the 'glory days' of the
British bus. By the middle of the 1960s, engines had been moved to
the back, the entrance to the front and capacity increased. But that
is another story.
Designs were prepared for buses from Manchester and Glasgow, to be
followed by Belfast, Coventry, Rotherham, Cardiff and other cities.
The order was to be sent to the factory in China at the end of June
2016, coinciding with the result of the referendum which had agreed
that Britain should leave the EU. There was no inkling of the
devastating effect this would have.
There was an immediate and regrettable reaction on the international
money markets due to the referendum. The value of the pound dropped
massively. The cost of the new models immediately shot up by a third
This was disastrous. The order was cancelled until the price
improved. Unfortunately, it did not. With a large investment already
made, smaller numbers were eventually ordered.
The models were delivered in early 2018 but at a selling price that
was 50% higher than the previous models. Inevitably, they did not
sell well enough in a market that was already in turmoil with the
loss of EFE and other manufacturers. Forward Models embarked on a
renewed marketing campaign using social media and other new methods.
Derek Perry, the founder of Forward Models, in pensive mood.
However, Derek was not well. He was diagnosed with a tumour of the
colon and during the latter half of 2018 he was subjected to repeated
chemotherapy sessions. This made it impossible to continue the tasks
of administering the company and marketing the new models. It was
with great regret that Derek decided to wind up the company in early
This process is not formally complete. Derek has stocks of models
which he is trying to sell. The factory in China holds the tooling
owned by Forward Models although it may itself be closed down soon.
However, the company has no other financial assets and trading is
suspended. Derek says: 'My plans for the future are sadly ended. It
is with much regret that I am simply unable to continue as Forward
Models. I can, at least, say that I am proud of the models I was able
to produce and I thank everyone who has supported this enterprise'.
Those who know Derek may be pleased to know that in June 2019 he had
an operation to remove the tumour which appears to be successful. He
considers himself cured and is looking forward to recovering fully.
He will continue selling second hand models and some Forward Models buses and may yet be seen at
future bus fairs.