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 Brian Pugsley - Alan Bartlett kindly contacted me with information about his father, Haydn Bartlett - one of the three actual founders of Space Models..
Many thanks to Andrew Barr of MasterModels for permission to use various photographs and information from their website.
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)
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.
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!
Click on pages to enlarge
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.
BLAKES 7 - the London prison ship built by Simon Atkinson. Photograph courtesy of Mat Irvine
BLAKES 7 - The Liberator
Model built by David Seymour, Gary Dickens, John Phillips & Simon Atkinson. Photograph courtesy of Mat Irvine.
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.
Managing Director Brian Pugsley and Art Director Derek Ridley in the main Office.
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.
1:100 scale Concorde model in primer being checked for blemishes. In the background 1:200 Concorde's are prepared for application of Decals.
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 show's
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.
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 - Construction images.
Sikorsky CH-54 'Skycrane'
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