www.bowmancircle.co.uk - THE BOWMAN CIRCLE









Two Bowman books have been researched and written in co-operation with relatives of Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins, by Colin Laker, past editor of the 'Bowman News' and 'S.T.E.A.M'  journals. The result of six years work, they are part biographical and  include every product made under Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins direction and also the items designed and manufactured at Ridlington by his son Max Bowman Jenkins. The wartime and early Dereham days of GBJ's cousin and fellow director Captain Bernard Arthur Smart D.S.O and Bar are covered as is the two men's association with "Jentique" furniture.

'Bowman Steam Toys And Pond Yachts' Book 1 and Book 2 published in 2009, were initially marketed by Headley Brothers Limited, The Invicta Press, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8HH. They are full colour standard works, printed on A4 size 135gsm silk paper, and stitched and bound inside a flexible laminated cover. 

 To conserve the books, they are best stored flat in a dry room environment.

Book 1 is 262 pages long while 'Book 2' has 296 pages. 

Book 1 ISBN 978-0-900443-16-9
Book 2 ISBN 978-0-900443-17-6





  An all colour 223 page fully illustrated A4 size hardback book

 Over 390 photographs and illustrations


The work is very much about a lad who grew up in the cosy terraced streets of the Bradford district of Manchester. Here from a young age, he was immersed in the sight, sound and smells of heavy industry from the likes of Armstrong Whitworth, Beyer Peacock, English Steel, GEC, Mather & Platt and Crossley Brothers. His childhood was interrupted by the War years, and images of the devastation caused by the bombing raids are included.


Very much part of Ron’s formative years was Belle Vue Manchester; with its amusement park, boxing and wrestling venues, dance halls, gardens, greyhound stadium, restaurants, speedway stadium, zoo and much more. During his teens, Ron took up playing the saxophone and played in local dance bands both before and after his spell in the RAF as a Flight Mechanic.

Although becoming a highly trained pattern maker while working for Crossley Brothers, Ron developed a skill and passion for photography and film making. After leaving Crossley’s, he worked for a time at Francis Shaw of Manchester as a photographer & film maker then the National Film Agency of Manchester as chief cameraman and editor, and finally B&S Massey Ltd of Openshaw as their reprographics manager.

Although photography was and is Ron’s passion, he is probably best known for the wonderful model steam boats he manufactured. Whilst trading as “Modeen Marine Steam Models”, his boats and steam engines delighted highly satisfied customers all over the world.

Historic and nostalgic photographs of Manchester are included and hopefully, there is much to interest the toy steam and model boat enthusiast. Reference is made to Mamod, Stuart Models, Chart Steam Models, Mersey Model Co. Ltd, Perico Models, A Thierens & Sons, Lesro Models and MSS with some of the information being previously unpublished.  Now in his 80’s, Ron is still active in Manchester and can sometimes be heard presenting jazz music on local radio or seen locally giving talks on photography.   

ISBN: 978-0-900443-25-1          

Initially marketed by Headley's of Ashford, the book is now out of print but can be purchased direct from the author for £20.00 (UK) including p&p.

For further details, please contact colinlaker@btinternet.com




Some visitors to this site may have seen references to "Bowman Models Ltd" of Luton who were trading from around late 1945 until their collapse in 1949. They were in no way associated with Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins or his Dereham employees and their products should not be seen as an extension to the  Derham built range. The models are collectable in their own right and are best celebrated as items from "Piece Parts and Assemblies Ltd. After Mr F. J. Bryant rejoined the firm following service in the RAF, the design and quality of their products improved considerably.


 The Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins built "Hobbies" and "Hobbies-Bowman" craft were built and assembled by GBJ's own staff. Unfortunately some commentators have perpetuated the myth that his staff only assembled the engines while Hobbies machined the hulls. This is completely untrue. All machining of the hulls was undertaken by GBJ's skilled wood machinists. This is verified by GBJ's son Paul, who remembers seeing the work taking place first hand. Hobbies role was to provide workshop facilities and a plentiful supply of seasoned timber. In fact it was the machining of wood which was the firm's forté, spanning the early pre 1920 years to the late 1960's.

There has also been some published 'Bowman' data which is not completely sound. The innacuracies seem to clone themselves and spread like a virus on the internet, in magazines and various publications. Unfortunately they end up treated as fact. Dates and products have at times become muddled to the point that the information is meaningless. Perhaps it would help visitors to this site if we refer to GBJ as Mr Geoffrey Jenkins and put much less emphasis on Bowman and more on Jenkins. Below is a 'chronological sequence' of Jenkins business names:


Mr Jenkins initially made simple wooden toys

Mr Jenkins formed The Woodcraft Patents Co

 Mr Jenkins commences making items for Hobbies Dereham Ltd (from 1922)*

Mr Jenkins is associated with Worboys and Smart

Mr Jenkins formed Bowman Models

Mr Jenkins formed Jenkins Productions Ltd

Mr & Mrs Jenkins created the name Jentique

Mr Jenkins formed Bowman Dereham NFK

Mr Jenkins formed Bowman Jenkins


On his father's death Max continued trading with the Bowman Jenkins name until 1982

NOTE - The trading name 'Bowman Models' was not created until 1926. However, the first Bowman badged item (E101 stationary engine) did not appear until the autumn of 1927.The first Bowman locomotives were exhibited at the British Industries Fair held at the White City between February 20th - 2nd March 1928 and sales commenced some time later during that year. Regarding Hobbies and their Jenkins built boats, the Hobbies-Bowman name did not appear until the spring of 1930. Prior to this, they were marketed as a Hobbies product. So as not to confuse at this stage, the locations of GBJ's premises from 1917-59 have not been included, nor have those after his untimely death. 

  *These were initially built at GBJ's S.W. London works.




'Bowman Models' stationary steam engines and locomotives were sold when new in either wooden or cardboard boxes. At this stage it would be wrong to attribute dates to when these were used or not used. The carboard ones however were introduced much earlier than many enthusists thought. Unfortunately some collectors have been encouraged to swap particular models between different boxes to get things right. Often this may serve to do just the opposite. If a model turns up in a wooden or cardboard box, one would be advised to leave well alone. We are only custodians of the models in our care for future generations. It would be a pity to eventually hand on our models in a muddled state. The same is also true regarding the practice of instruction and label swapping.

Another practice which has unfortunately happened concerns GBJ's locomotives. Some collectors were informed that GBJ made changes to his locomotives as an economy measure, due to the prevailing economic situation of the 1930's. This is not true. GBJ's attitude was always one of continual improvement, together with  giving his customers the best possible deal whatever the economic climate. In fact during this period, he packaged some of his other products in velvet lined cases resplendent with gold leaf logos. The problem which exists is that some collectors thought that the connecting rods of the locos were of smooth profile in later engines as an economy measure and of fluted profile in earlier versions. Consequently there has been much connecting rod swapping to get things right. Unfortunately this action was not based on fact and was the wrong way round.The problem has been further compounded with a spate of box swapping. The smooth connecting rods were the earlier version as for the locomotive demonstrated at the 1928 British Industries Fair and the improved fluted ones the latter. There were other reasons why this occurred but the explanations are too involved for this web page.   


1929 catalogue entry  showing smooth connecting rods


 1930 catalogue entry showing improved fluted connecting rods


 265 Tank loco with improved fluted connecting rods

Note the felt oil pad to rear of piston.These were fitted to the 234, 265 and 300 locos.


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