Martin Evans was one of the most influential people in model engineering. He was not just an editor and writer, he was designer of some of the most popular model locomotives of all time, and an authority on full size locomotives, especially those that ran on the eastern side of the country.

Coincidentally, 2016 sees the centenary of the birth of Martin Evans and the 50th anniversary of his appointment as editor of Model Engineer magazine and the beginning of its golden age.

Martin became interested in model railways initially, but happened across a copy of ME in 1939 and followed up with purchase of a set of drawings and castings for an LNER J39 designed by LBSC - who else? And a workshop was set up in the basement of his father’s house in North London.

War intervened and work on the loco was halted.

After leaving the Fleet Air Arm in 1949, and a few jobs including running his own model business, he spotted an ad in ME for a general assistant and, despite only being half of his current salary, applied and was successful. In those days, after the death of founder, Percival Marshall, ME still had its workshop, plenty of staff and what Martin described as a “relaxed atmosphere”.

His first task, given by John Neville Maskelyne, was to build a steam model 4-4-0 to one of his designs, write and photograph the build. That was quickly followed by Martin’s own Stanier 2-6-2, Jubilee design. And a steady stream over the following decades.

Promotion to Technical Editor came in 1962, after Edgar T. Westbury retired. Westbury was a great model engineer who kept ME going against all the odds during WW2. However, the early 60s was not a good time for ME. It was losing money. LBSC had been effectively sacked by the then editor and circulation dropped dramatically. The magazine stable was sold to Model Aeronautical Press. The entire (and it was large) ME staff were sacked, apart from Martin and draftsman Pedder. Everything (apart from the workshop) was moved out of London’s West End.

ME was now under the control of: D.J. Laidlaw-Dickson, Editorial Director; Vic Smeed, Managing Editor; Martin Evans, Editor; Edgar T.Westbury, Technical Consultant; W.J. (Bill) Hughes, Technical Consultant. The magazine became great again, including reinstatement of LBSC after he returned from the United States.

Martin left the editor’s chair in 1977, leaving a legacy of a magazine successful both in popularity and profitability. He continued designing models and writing until his death in 2003

Locomotive designs

0 Gauge

Royal Scot

Gauge 1

Green Arrow 2-6-2

Newbury 4-4-0 (with J. N. Maskelyne)

2½ in. gauge

Black Five, 4-6-0

Eagle, 4-4-0

Nigel Minor, 2-8-0 GNR 01

3½ in. gauge

Caribou, 0-8-0

Columbia, 4-8-4

Conway, 0-4-0

Euston, 2-8-0

Evening Star, 2-10-0 (completed the design started by LBSC)

Firefly GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2

Greene King, 4-6-0

Ivatt, 2-6-0

Jubilee, 2-6-4

Natal 4-6-2

Rob Roy, 0-6-0

William, 2-6-2

The Great Marquess, 2-6-0

Centenary 4-6-4

Simplex Minor 0-6-0

5 in. gauge

Ashford 2-6-0

Boxhill, 0-6-0

Enterprise, 2-6-2

Jinty, 0-6-0

Metro, 2-4-0

Nigel Gresley, 2-8-0

Royal Scot, 4-6-0

Princess of Wales, 4-2-2

Simplex, 0-6-0

Super Simplex, 0-6-0

Springbok 4-6-0

Stirling Single, 2-2-2

Stratford, 0-6-0

Super Claud, 4-4-0

Torquay Manor, 4-6-0

Waverley North, 4-4-2

GNR N1 0-6-2

Harringay 0-4-4

Adams T6

LMS 5XP Leander

Fury  4-6-0

Royal Engineer 4-6-0

Eastern Belle 4-6-0

Ivo Peters 2-8-0

Crewe Alexandra 0-8-0

Green Arrow 2-6-2

7¼ in. gauge

Singapore, 0-4-0 Saddle Tank

Dart, 0-4-2

Greene Queen, 4-6-0

Highlander, 4-6-0

Holmside, 0-6-0

Caledonia 0-6-0

Roedeer LNER B1


Martin Evans wrote many popular books for model engineers:

  1. Manual of model steam locomotive construction. Percival Marshall.

  2. Atlantic era: the British Atlantic locomotive. Percival Marshall, 

  3. Pacific steam: the British Pacific locomotive. Percival Marshall.

  4. Model locomotive valve gears. Percival Marshall.

  5. Inverness to Crewe: The British 4-6-0 locomotive. Model Aeronautical Press.

  6. Outdoor Model Railways. Model & Allied Publications.

  7. Rob Roy: how to build a simple 3 1/2 in. gauge 0-6-0 tank locomotive based on the dockyard engines of the old Caledonian Railway. Model and Allied Publications.

  8. Model locomotive construction. Model & Allied Publications.

  9. Model locomotive boilers: their design and construction. Rev ed: Model & Allied Publications.

  10. Caribou 0-8-0 Canadian switcher for 3 1/2in. gauge: (and Buffalo a 2-8-0  Consolidation). Model & Allied Publications, Argus Books.

  11. Simplex 0-6-0 freelance tank locomotive for 5in. gauge. Argus Books.

  12. Introducing model steam locomotive construction. K. Dickson.

  13. The model steam locomotive: a complete treatise on design and construction. Argus Books.

  14. Rob Roy and William: two 3 1/2in. gauge locomotives. Argus Books.

  15. Model locomotive and marine boilers. Argus Books.

  16. Evening Star (with LBSC)

  17. Simple Locomotive building ‘Tich’ (with LBSC)

Finally some pictures of Martin’s designs from the MEWS archive. Click on a picture to enlarge, or download for larger still. Or play slideshow.