Offered at Miller & Miller (18% buyer’s premium) of New Hamburg, Ontario, the model based on a 1962 Vickers VC-10 BOAC jet plane was made by Walker’s Westway of London.
One of only two of these 7ft 4in long x 5ft 10in wide x 5ft 1in high overall (2.24 x 1.78 x 1.55m) models known, it sold on January 21 for Can$16,000 (£9600) against an estimate of Can$9000-12,000. The other, in not such good condition, was sold at a Californian auction some time ago for an unknown price.
The Vickers VC-10 achieved a record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a subsonic jet airliner of 5 hours and 1 minute. That record stood for 41 years until February 2020 when a British Airways Boeing 747 achieved 4 hours 56 minutes – up to then it had only ever been beaten for speed by the supersonic Concorde.
The VC-10 was in service from 1962-81 with airlines all over the world and continued to fly with the RAF until 2013 for a service history totalling 50 years. In fact, many Concorde flight crew actually earned the vast majority of their hours in the sky on the VC-10.
Miller & Miller said: “This beautiful model was shipped to a travel agency in eastern Ontario in 1963. In those days, the aircraft was the destination, but the folks lucky enough to afford a jet airliner ticket had to somehow be shown just how luxurious this brand-new aircraft really was in an era where few people owned TV sets.
“This was the very dawn of the Jet Age, and long before air travel was commonplace. People dressed up to fly and were served world-class meals by stewardesses in white gloves, on the finest of silverware. Thus, it became a standard airline industry marketing practice to woo customers by showing off cutaway models of their most exciting (and brand new) jets. Only the highest performing travel agencies were given the privilege of being ‘loaned’ these models.”
In November 1963 this model was stored away for safe-keeping in the attic of the travel agency by the owner but it seems BOAC forgot about it. The auction house says when the building was sold in December 2012 it was actually rediscovered by the same man who put it there.
Walk this Westway
Walker’s Westway has an interesting background. Active from 1942-57 as bespoke model aircraft maker to the aircraft/airline industries, it was started in East Acton by Ian Walker, a man famous in the motor-racing world in the 1950s-60s, particularly with Lotus.
It seems he acquired the Merit plastics company which made a range of plastic model kits of 1950s-60s racing cars. Walker’s Westway developed, possibly as a way of bankrolling the motor racing.
A wonderful British Pathé short film about the firm can be viewed at britishpathe.com/video/industrial-models.