Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Howes of Oxford

Back in the good old days there was a business in the centre of the venerable city of Oxford. Yee Howes Olde Modele Shope, purveyors of the finest miniatures for the discerning gentle person was a must visit location if you were in town.

After a few years the business moved out to the nearby town of Kidlington. This made it handier for those who would be travelling by the new fangled horseless carriage as it was just off the M40 motorway and there was a very good pub en-route. The business changed and in the front room became home to model railways while the larger back portion sold radio controlled boats, cars and aeroplanes. In between there was a room for plastic kits and an attic for bargains.

Gradually mail-order became more important then punters walking through the door. The plastic kits were sold off while the RC section concentrated on the more profitable lines of ready to sail, drive or fly models.

Now there has been another move to an industrial unit a mile or so down the road. Parking is much easier at this new venue and it's not difficult to find - just over the railway line if you are heading towards Banbury from the town.

The different sides share a showroom and at first sight I wondered if the railways had diminished slightly. A bit more investigation makes me think this isn't the case although perhaps there isn't as much continental stuff as before.

The plastic kits are back as are a lot of model boat fittings. There are, I think, more kits on sale too. The ready to use stuff is still there too with much more interesting models on display. The next door unit houses the main mail-order business so they don't need to keep as many multiples of items in the shop, which makes the place look a little less tawdry. In fact some of the RTR ships are very impressive - a 5 foot long warship anybody ?

Normally I'd be a bit po-faced about all this but I really think the move is for the better. As a nautical modeller I like the range of Robbie fittings etc. on the wall. It's a struggle to find this stuff a lot of the time. The railway bits and pieces are good and the material selection including paints and glues excellent. Maybe those interested in trains will take a look and find some new items for the toolbox too !

Howes Website

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