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British Toy Companies : Burnett Toys – Burnett Ltd.

December 5th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments



The short lived British toy company of Burnett Ltd. was founded by F. Burnett and E. Satchwell in 1914 and were based at 53a Aldersgate Street, London EC1. Burnett produced a variety of tinplate toys, various motor vehicles – cars, trucks and emergency vehicles as well as aircraft and locomotives. They were probably most famous for their ‘Ubilda’ series of tinplate construction kits.

They were a listed exhibitor at both the 1922 and 1929 British Industries Fairs held at the White City. In 1922 they were given as manufacturers of metal mechanical toys (such as Motor Cars, Lorries, Omnibuses), Metal Money Boxes in fancy designs, Decorated Metalware (Tea Trays, Firescreens) and occupied Stand No. F46. In 1929 Metal Toys (such as Cannons, Pistols), Constructional Toys (Ubilda Car, Aeroplane, Theatre), Toy Cash Boxes, Children’s Paint Boxes were added to the list, the company occupying Stand C24.

Interesting to note that at the Industries Fairs they were listed as ‘Manufacturers’ of toys whereas it is often quoted that they produced nothing themselves and subcontracted manufacturing to Barringer, Wallis and Manners Co. of Mansfield. ‘Barringers’, as they were known locally, were later to become the Metal Box Co. and certainly produced a variety of tin money boxes etc. in their own right.

The company ran into financial difficulties and in 1939 their tooling was acquired by the Chad Valley Co. (see my separate listing) who continued to produce many of the Burnett vehicles as well as the ‘Ubilda’ range of toys.

Other tenuous links to Barringer, Wallis and Manners and the Metal Box Co. was that in 1949 Burnett Ltd. was voluntarily wound up and amalgamated with the Metal Box Company. Also items like the Chad Valley ‘Carrs’ biscuit tin bus were in fact manufactured by Barringer, Wallis and Manners.

some examples of Burnett vehicles :


Scarce pre-war tinplate Royal Mail van. Van is predominantly red with black roof and wings. Clockwork in operation, fitted with permanent key, 15cm long.


Scarce pre-war, c1920, large scale tinplate bus. Clockwork in operation, fitted with a permanent key, motor driving rear wheels. Model came in two colourway finishes, example shown is the harder to find deep yellow version, alternative is the more common red colourway finish. In both cases cream finish to upper bodywork with black chassis and wings. ‘Lands End to John O’Groats’ to side destination boards. Burnett circular logo to both sides. Interior bench seating with steps to the rear for boarding purposes. Fitted with tinplate balloon type wheels. O/all length 36cm.


Another scarce Burnett model, this example dating to c1930 is of a tinplate, clockwork driven Military Ambulance. Predominantly grey bodywork colourway finish with green lower ‘plank’ effect. Black cab portion with grey radiator, black wings/running boards edged white. Ambulance roundals to the sides. Tinplate wheels with black hubs. Vehicle is fitted with a permanent key. Length 16cm.


                                                        SEDAN >

Pre war tinplate clockwork Sedan. Light blue bodywork finish and wings with cream detailing and cream roof. Fitted with balloon wheels and permanent key. Length 18cm. o/all.





Pre war tinplate Fordson Tipper Truck with clockwork drive mechanism. Cab and bodywork in light green colourway finish with black chassis and large grey radiator to front of cab. Simple lever tipping mechanism to body with hinged tailgate. Grey balloon wheels with light green hubs. Permanent key 18cm.


Burnett Open Tourer, blue bodywork finish with cream bonnet and detailing, large grey radiator. Black wings, running boards and rear hood. Fitted with maroon interior. Grey tin wheels with black hubs.



A scarce pre war example of a tinplate Express Delivery Van from Burnett. Grey bodywork finish with cream roof. Grey radiator to front, black wings and running boards. Grey tin wheels with black hubs. Clockwork drive motor fitted with permanent key. 16cm.


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  1. Philip Pertoldi
    January 22nd, 2014 at 17:38 | #1

    Interesting article on Burnett Toys and I am being offered by a reliable source a 1939 tin van at 11.5 inches long with name Express Road Transport in yellow and 2 tones of blue licence plate nbr 325534. The asking price is £650 delivered. Would you have a view on this as a value please. Many thanks

  2. dave
    January 25th, 2014 at 17:04 | #2

    Hi Phil, I think I know where you have seen this truck for sale and from your address I can well understand why it may be of some interest to you ! As to whether the £650 asking price is realistic …. ?
    Please bear in mind the opinion expressed is just my own personal opinion and I’m working with little info re condition of the model and its motor. To be honest I am reluctant to comment on what another site is asking for their toys as I have no idea on what price they bought it in at, their overheads etc. etc. However, what I will say is that the Burnett model vehicles are not a common item in themselves, the 16cm model vans would normally command a price of between £100 – £200 at auction depending on rarity and condition. I cannot recall seeing one of these larger ‘Road Transport’ box vans up for sale in the last couple of years and looking back through my past auction catalogues I am also unable to find it. From that I am assuming that this vehicle may well be a relatively hard to find Burnett model and as such may well demand a premium price. Please don’t loose sight of the fact that a dealer has to source his items, he does not have them given to him ! If he paid a high price at the end of the day his asking price will come down to what margin he is willing to work on. Don’t forget the general saying ‘Its worth what someone is willing to pay !’ applies. My advice is if you really want it .. contact the seller with an offer … the genuine dealer won’t be offended and you may be able to strike a deal that suits you both.
    May not really be an answer in terms of value but hope it helps, David.

  3. April 4th, 2015 at 15:49 | #3

    I operate a website for collectors of LSR models, toys etc. I’m trying to trace the manufacturer of a tin 1935 Bluebird LSR car. It is large at about 16 inches long and apparently came in both red and blue. The only reference I have found is that it was made by Burnett, but I haven’t been able to find any list of Burnett toys that include it. Any thoughts?

  4. dave
    April 6th, 2015 at 11:07 | #4

    Hi Carl,
    Identifying tinplate models from 1930’s as you will know is tricky at the best of times. Burnett and Chad Valley racers are very similar, throw in the likes of Wells & Brimtoy etc into the mix and without any logos etc to help it becomes even harder to identify the manufacurer of a specific model.
    Any chance of a picture to help with this one ? will send my e-mail address to you for this purpose.
    Cheers for now, David

  5. Alwin
    April 11th, 2015 at 13:24 | #5

    I found a blue luxury coach made by Burnett (poor condition unfortunately), do you know what year it was produced? Is it hard to find?
    Thanks in advance.

  6. dave
    April 14th, 2015 at 16:50 | #6

    Alwin, thanks for visiting the site and your question.
    Always difficult to precisely date Burnett toys especially with the Chad Valley connection. Best guess would be to give you a span of around 1920 – 1930. Burnett produced several ‘Coaches’, might be able to do a little better and a bit more precise if you can send in a photo.
    All the best, David.

  7. Kelty
    July 4th, 2017 at 21:42 | #7

    Hi , a little time ago I bought a cast model of a London trolley bus. The makers name is a little faint, but seems to read Burnett & Co. It is smaller than oo guage but bigger than “Matchbox”
    I,m given to believe this is very rare,Ive collected model London buses for many years and have never come across another like it. The wheels are cast metal ,and the overhead pickups were missing [ Ive replaced them] , Can you possibly tell me anything about this bus at all , many thanks Kelty

  8. dave
    July 5th, 2017 at 20:10 | #8

    Hi there Kelvin, I must say this one had me scratching my head for some time as, and no doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong, Burnett only produced tin-plate models rather than cast metal toys. I think that the trolley-bus you have was in fact produced by Taylor and Barrett.
    Taylor and Barrett produced two sizes of their cast metal trolley-bus both were 6-wheel vehicles and produced pre-war.

    The larger version in red/cream was slightly larger in scale than say the ‘Dinky’ toys double decker bus at c12cm. The smaller version in red/black being more of the ‘Matchbox’ size.
    The larger model had a driver-in and a loose conductor and had ‘TROLLEYBUS’ cast into the sides of the bus below its lower windows.
    Both models had paper advertising labels to the sides (usually replaced).
    Hopefully I have got this right …. the pics will confirm it, let me know.

  9. Kelvin Tyers
    October 21st, 2017 at 22:24 | #9

    Thank you for the info, you are correct , what I have is the smaller Taylor&Barrett,.
    I have just purchased another bus which has no makers marks at all.It is made of metal and is
    approx 1.38 scale .it has a side entrance and has a transfer on the sides which read Transport Services. On the front destination board it says Depot , it reminds me of the early Midland Red double deckers, but having no makers name I am at a loss , any ideas please

  10. dave
    October 26th, 2017 at 20:23 | #10

    Nice to hear from you again Kelvin, this query has me stumped for the minute though. I am assuming when you say side opening you mean a ‘back loader’ rather than the front side opening you more often than not find on a single deck coach/bus ? Depot on the front board tends to mean its a ‘Utility’ bus. Any chance of a pic ? without one I’m floundering for the moment but will keep trawling to see if I can plaice this model.
    Cheers for now, David.

    December 1st, 2017 at 14:25 | #11


  12. dave
    December 2nd, 2017 at 20:41 | #12

    Hi there J-P, a Burnett single deck bus is a pretty rare item in its own right, fitted with electric headlights is even harder to find. As far as I am concerned the yellow version is also a much harder to find model as the majority I have come across are the red ones. As usual, like all models it all comes down to condition, condition, condition. Motor needs to be in good, strong, working order and the bodywork needs to be rust free to get the premium price. To be honest I have not seen your particular version sold for quite some years now and don’t have any price listed in any of the publications I have to hand. Always difficult to give a value when one doesn’t have the item to examine. The standard bus without lights I have seen varying in price at auction anywhere from £100 up to £900 and those with lights around the £1000/£1100 range. Don’t forget these were prices reached some years ago and the marked has nose dived somewhat since then so your guess would be as good as mine as to todays value … would love to know what you picked it up for.

  13. Margaret Lewis
    May 9th, 2018 at 14:36 | #13

    I live in Perth, Western Australia and I have a full-size tin fireguard (not a toy) with hinged sides. It has the round logo of the Burnett Ltd featured on the back of the guard. It has a very attractive 1930’s coloured floral design on the front with a plain back.
    Can you give me some idea of its value? I am happy to supply photos.
    Regards Margaret

  14. dave
    May 11th, 2018 at 20:03 | #14

    Sorry Margaret but this one is totally outside my remit ! don’t know where I would even start as regards valuing such an item. Certainly Burnett were a listed exhibitor at the 1922 British Industries Fair where they were given as a manufacturer of various metal mechanical toys, money boxes and ‘Decorative Metal Ware (Tea Trays and Fire Screens)’. These particular metal wares are more likely to have been made for them by Barringer, Wallis and Manners. Now if you had asked me about a Burnett toy fireplace I probably could have been of some help but as your screen is, as you say, not a toy then I can be of no assistance, sorry.

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