By Roger Backhouse

This books tell how, in the first quarter of the 20th century, James Charles Crebbin was probably the best known amateur model engineer in Britain. His locomotive Cosmo Bonsor became famous worldwide and he was widely respected for his knowledge of locomotive design and operation in the UK and abroad. He knew engineers like George Jackson Churchward, Sir William Stanier, Sir Nigel Gresley, Karl Golsdorf and Edouard Sauvage, exchanging ideas with them and many others.

Jim Crebbin's friendships with Percival Marshall, editor of Model Engineer magazine, and with W.J. Bassett-Lowke helped him reach a wider circle of engineers and model builders.

Although he had no formal engineering training he became a skilled locomotive builder with a good understanding of steam engine design. His other interests included model boats, boating, music and extensive foreign travel.

This was not easily achieved. An anonymous writer in Model Engineer wrote that "Mr Crebbin has passed through some of the deep waters of life". For one who worked most of his life in that model of stability, the Bank of England, Jim Crebbin suffered severe setbacks that could have ended his engineering hobby.

Jim Crebbin was well acquainted with the latest developments in steam locomotive design, and sought to apply new ideas to model locomotives. In this he introduced innovative approaches doing much to improve miniature locomotive designs at a time when model engineering was emerging as an established hobby.

Throughout his life he travelled extensively in Europe, reaching Africa, the Caribbean and South America. His contributions to model engineering and model boating societies were many and varied. Later, he encouraged young people to take up engineering and model making. His life was remarkable - and so were his locomotives, all carefully described in this book.

The book is 80 pages and priced £14, available from the SMEE

Also available at the Railway Museum shop.