THE SPACE MODELS STORY
In 1976 Simon Atkinson joined the West London firm of SPACE MODELS LTD in Feltham, Middlesex, as an apprentice Modelmaker.
The company had been in existence since 1964 and was recognized as one of the UK's two leading companies in the production of Aerospace, Industrial, Military and Film & TV models and miniatures - the other was MASTERMODELS.
The company directors were 'Wag' Evans, Brian Pugsley, Derek Ridley, Keith Baker, Keith Blackburn and originally, John Phillips. Key Model makers were Gary Dickens, David Seymour and Charlie Bryant (originally employed by Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Productions where he built models for THUNDERBIRDS, STINGRAY, CAPTAIN SCARLET & JOE 90)
The Workshop Manager from 1977 was Peter Robbins - formely of WESTWAY MODELS and builder of numerous miniatures and models for productions such as 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.
SPACE MODELS was bought out by OXON Technologies in 2006 but unfortunately went into receivership in 2009 after an illustrious run of over 45 years.
MASTERMODELS continues to flourish - their superb website hosting numerous photographs of iconic models for many of Gerry Andersons productions - http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/
SPACE MODELS screen credits inlcluded 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THUNDERBIRDS, SPACE 1999, JOE 90, CAPTAIN SCARLET, THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES, JAMES BOND movies, BLAKES 7 and numerous other TV shows and films.
This is the initial stage of what is proposed to become a detailed history and resource of this iconic company, it's origins and links to other companies and individuals and of course the major contribution made to British Film and TV model Effects. Please check back as the section expands.
All of the Space Models photographs currently featured are courtesy of Gary Dickens and David Seymour unless otherwise credited .All photographs are copyright and must not be copied or distributed with permission.
Thanks to Gary and David for background information and more recently to the late Brian Pugsley - Alan Bartlett kindly contacted me with information about his father, Haydn Bartlett - one of the three actual founders of Space Models..
Most recently thanks go to Caroline Pugsley who shared photographs from her late father's collection.
Many thanks to Andrew Barr of MasterModels for permission to use various photographs and information from their website.
In the beginning was....MASTERMODELS
Mastermodels has its roots back in the 1960’s when Laurie Barr started a parent company AGM Limited (Aeronautical and General Modelmakers Limited). Laurie started the company on the back of years of experience as a model maker and carpenter. He also had a passion for aeromodelling especially free flight and became National Champion in 1949 at the age of 22. With this in mind, he wanted to start a model making company but had limited funds. He saw an advertisement in the News Chronicle, calling for enterprising people who wanted to start their own business to appear on TV and offered £5000 to the winner. He appeared on the first show of “Get Ahead”, and won the first heat. He ended up coming second overall. This proved to be great publicity as he had a number of people writing to him wanting to form a business together. Laurie took an opportunity to become a 50/50 partner with Norman Fisher who had a highly successful pattern making business. With Norman providing the money to start up he left Laurie to create the new business and Mastermodels was born.
The company flourished and a number of modelmakers and artists were taken on as the business expanded - among them Brian Pugsley, Keith Baker, Derek Ridley, 'Wag' Evans and Keith Blackburn - several of the founders of SPACE MODELS.
Brian Pugsley (former Parachute Regiment - dropped at Suez) was taken on at Mastermodels due to his extensive experience in automotive spray finishing - it was within the company that he began a lifelong friendship with Aircraft and model enthusiast Keith Baker. At this time Mastermodels was based on Harrow (Greenhill Crescent)
Destined to become the Space Models Art Director from 1964, a young Derek Ridley holds the beautiful large scale model of STINGRAY from the Gerry Anderson TV Production. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Barr.
STINGRAY! Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Barr (MASTERMODELS)
Models under construction for the second THUNDERBIRDS movie - THUNDERBIRD 6. Note Century 21 modelmaker and mentor of Simon Atkinson; Charlie Bryant working on Thunderbird 2 on the extreme right. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Barr (MASTERMODELS)
1960 - the completed puppet-scale model of SUPERCAR for A.P Films. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Barr (MASTERMODELS)
1964 - SPACE MODELS begins....
Space Models original letterhead - Image courtesy of Alan Bartlett
Whilst working for 5 years with Laurie Barr at MASTERMODELS Brian Pugsley and Keith Baker discussed leaving and setting up their own modelmaking company with other modelmakers 'Wag' Evans, Derek Ridley and Keith Blackburn. During this period Keith Baker was offered Aerospace modelmaking work within another company and he left the group to pursue an independent career.
The proposed name for the new company was 'MODEL 4' but the group became aware that another company run by engineering modelmaker John Phillips was up for sale - SPACE MODELS.
The original company was founded by Haydn Bartlett, along with John Phillips and Harry Beesley. The original workshop was above a cycle shop at 50 High St, Hounslow. The name Space Models was
derived from the different types of models that they produced :
S stood for ships, P for prototype/pattern, A for aircraft, C: Cars. E for engineering. Haydn Bartlett later left Space Models and started making models under his own name. Amongst many models he made the "Antoinette" for "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying machines"
Haydn had started working for Vic Woodason at WAM (Woodason Aircraft Models)) after he left the navy in 1946, John Phillips and Tony Datkiewicz (who later started Skyland Models) also worked there as well. After leaving Woodason in the mid 50s and working at MASH models for a while he started working under his own name. During that time, one of the models he made was for Ealing Studio's "The Ship That Died Of Shame" along with various other commissions. In 1966 he moved to Beer in Devon, again working under his own name. It was while living in Beer that he met his future business partner Major Haynes and they formed Precision Model Engineers in the late 60s.
Although the former Mastermodels group were not in a position to buy Space Models outright from John Phillips, ultimately an arrangement was reached and the company passed to the '4' with Phillips joining them later as a consultant.
The '4' were all directors of the new company but each had specific roles. Perhaps most importantly:
Brian Pugsley : a qualified pilot who had developed close working relationships with contacts at all of the major aircraft companies in the UK and was a popular figure with an innate ability to generate working leads from almost any meeting. He had close ties with Gerry Anderson and through him Derek Meddings, ties which would ultimately lead to Space Models association with many iconic TV and film productions as Meddings moved on from Anderson's Century 21 Productions and became THE film miniatures guru. Pugsley's unique contact base lead ultimately to the aerospace modelmaking 'prize' the contract to produce models for the Boeing company in Seattle USA.
Derek Ridley became the Art Director for Space Models - as the company developed closer and closer relationships with the major Aerospace compaines and airlines he was often employed working as a consultant on the development of airline liveries for which full coloured artworks and model samples would be produced. Space models also had it's own in house transfer (decal) manufacturing facility which was often used for short runs and special jobs ( such as the Moonbase Alpha decals for the Eagle Transporters of Gerry Anderson's SPACE 1999) Ridley was also a master of weathering models, a skill which he applied to film and TV models.
'Wag' Evans was a master modelmaker and had an extensive history within the profession and had been employed by the Defence Department during World War 2 in the production of aircraft recognition models for use by the RAF aircrew and ground gunners. All of the models were hand made in wood giving Evans a unique knowledge of aircraft production in miniature. He was, along with Keith Blackburn, Space Models hands-on modelmaker and pattern maker who went on to set up SM's Andover facility as the company expanded in the 1970's. Click HERE for Simon Archer's interview with Wag Evans
In 1977 former WESTWAY MODELS employee Peter Robbins was employed by Brian Pugsley as Modelmaking Workshop Manager, a position he held until he retired in the early 1980's.
Space Models employed a lengthy list of modelmakers during its existence and was the launch pad for many careers in professional modelmaking.
Charlie Bryant (Formely Century 21)
Simon Atkinson.....and many more!
The following pages are from Space Models publicity booklet produced in 1978. (Simon Atkinson collection)
Click on pages to enlarge
Cover photograph featuring (at the top bench Left to right ) Terry Simmonds, David Seymour, John Phillips, Simon Atkinson, Gary Dickens, Tony Caspell , Paul Seymour and Terry Greco.
Page 1 : Directors Brian Pugsley and 'Wag' Evans pictured with the Tiger Moth featured in the movie THUNDERBIRD 6
Page 2 - Art Director Derek Ridley featured.
Seen in the picture are Terry Simmonds, David Seymour, Charlie Bryant, John Phillips, Simon Atkinson, Gary Dickens, Tony Caspell , Paul Seymour and Terry Greco.
Many iconic models and miniatures for TV and Film were produced at Space Models including two different scale versions of the Space 1999 Eagle Transporter -the one shown here being 44" in length, a smaller 22" version was also built - one of several miniatures built by the company for Gerry Anderson Productions during the 1960's & 70's (reproduced from large format negative portrait shot taken at the factory )
The Eagle Transporter models were built by 'Wag Evans' Gary Dickens, David Seymour and John Phillips.
This model ( Eagle 1 ) is now owned by model maker David Sisson and his fascinating account of the extensive restoration of the model can be seen here: http://davidsissonmodels.co.uk/eagle1.htm
BLAKES 7 - The Liberator
Model built by David Seymour, Gary Dickens, John Phillips & Simon Atkinson. Photograph courtesy of Mat Irvine.
Polaroid photographs taken by Derek Ridley of the London and Liberator prior to collection by the BBC (Photographs courtesy of Caroline Pugsley from the Brian Pugsley archive)
Details for the miniature of the Liparus tanker exterior and the entire interior set for the James Bond Film THE SPY WHO LOVED ME constructed at Space Models.
Other movie miniatures included THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.
Space Models brochure from the 1990's - on the cover (left to right - Keith Blackburn, Keith Baker, 'Wag'Evans, Derek Ridley) Brochure courtesy of Caroline Pugsley from the Brian Pugsley collection
Space Models brochure from the 1990's - Centre spread with Brian Pugsley pictured ( Brochure courtesy of Caroline Pugsley from the Brian Pugsley collection.)
Large scale HOTOL model photographed outside Space Models premises on Pier Road on the North Feltham Trading Estate. The company's original logo is seen here.
'Wag' Evans building the Master model for a SEPECAT Jaguar Aircraft. From these parts a spray-metal injection mould was produced into which self-skinning PU foam was injected. The models were then mass produced and finished in the Feltham factory. Images of this process to follow.
Space Models Managing Director Brian Pugsley pictured in the 1970's in the 1st floor model finishing area. Here the semi mass produced models had their decals applied. (Photograph courtesy of Caroline Pugsley from the Brian Pugsley collection)
John Phillips, one of the three original founders of Space Models , poses with a cutaway Boeing 707 in Sabena Arlines Livery. These models were a combination of moulded acylic and fibreglass construction.
Managing Director Brian Pugsley and Art Director Derek Ridley in the main Office.
Derek Ridley working on a Cyprus Airways BAC 111 model. Space models were often involved in the design of airline liveries - this model was probably a prototype.
Model maker Dave Blackhurst making the master model for a Boeing 707 model. The masters were usually made from Lime wood - a close grained wood providing a fine finish. Note the aluminium inserts for the engines which were used in the injection moulding process when a recess was required such as an intake or Engine exhaust. From This master an alloy spray -metal process was used to create an injection moulding tool.
A Polyurethene moulding of the component parts for a 1:100 scale Canadair Challenger model being removed from the injection moulding block . The parts, once cleaned up and sandblasted, would be assembled using Holts Cataloy (Resin and powder mix). Then primed, filled until completed with a top coat of cellulose paint to suit the livery of the chosen airline.
Aircraft production on a grand scale - 1:100 scale Gulf Air Tri-Stars, BA Concorde's and Boeing 747's in the 1st floor model finishing area.
1:100 scale Concorde model in primer being checked for blemishes. In the background 1:200 Concorde's are prepared for application of Decals.
Wynn and Pat are pictured.
Window and door details are applied with transfers (decals) onto a 1:100 scale British Airways Boeing 747 (1977)
Brian Pugsley unmasking the nose section of a BAC 111 model following painting. At this time SPACE MODELS was operating from Isleworth near London.
A larger scale BAC 111 is prepared for another coat of paint at the Isleworth facility - the model has transparent areas on the fuselage with interior detail, the masked areas protecting the clear acrylic sections while spraying is underway. The joint line visible behind the nose section is where the model splits - the interior detail is built onto a florr which slides into the fuselage.
Space Models had a presence at various aerospace events including Farnborough and Paris Air shows
over many decades where models of civil and military aircraft, produced for a variety of manufacturers, were displayed including this 1:20 scale Concorde with full interior detail at the 1977 Paris Air Show.
Brian Pugsley at the Farnborough Air Show during the 1980's (photograph courtesy of Caroline Pugsley from the Brian Pugsley collection)
Discussing the master model for a Being 747 model are (Left to Right) Keith Blackburn, Derek Ridley, 'Wag' Evans and Keith Baker
1:12 Scale Concorde
Jetstream 31 Models in a variety of scales and levels of detail.
1:20 Scale Hercules C130H transport.
50th Scale and 100
Super-detailed 1:5 scale model of Hawker 800 for the Japanese Defence Force. Construction pictures of this stunning model below. Gary Dickens is pictured working on the model.
1:20 Scale A400M Transport Aircraft with cutaway detailing.
The A400M Modelmaking team
Lufthansa Airbus A380
1: 20 Scale RAF Rescue Seaking Helicopter
1:5 scale Eurocopter NH90 with full interior Detail.
1:5 scale Eurocopter NH90
1:5 Scale Eurocopter NH90 - Maritime Variant
1:10 Scale SH 2G Super Seasprite Helicopter
1:10 Scale SH 2G Super Seasprite Helicopter - Construction images.
Sikorsky CH-54 'Skycrane'
Sikorsky CH-54 'Skycrane' (2)
1: 10 scale BK117 Helicopter
1:20 Scale Harrier GR7A under construction - Jelotong and Lime wood fuselage and wings, Brass detailing to underwing stores. Model by Gary Dickens.
A recently unearthed video courtesy of Gary Dickens showing a complete Harrier build from a basic block of timber through to the fully finished model - late 1990's.
1:50th scale Harrier variants.
1:5 scale SAAB Gripen
1:10 scale Typhoon Eurofighter
1:5 Scale Hawk - Canadian Air Force
1:5 SEPECAT Jaguar Aircraft
Thanks to Gary Dickens for this look back to a Space Models staff excursion to the Farnborough Airshow in 1988 - the first part of which shows the huge number of models which Space Models produced for various aerospace trade stands. Video is Copyright (c) Gary Dickens 2020
The Space Models Story is updated as new content is unearthed - please check back later.................
For those visitors with an interest in
2001: A Space Odyssey
look out for a unique Limited Edition Fine Art Print Collection by Simon Atkinson now available via this website.