The two ultimate reference books on all things Bowman, written by expert extraordinaire Colin Laker, whom I’m proud to call a friend, and who is the source of quite a few bits and pieces on this website. Only available from Headleys of Ashford. £45 each, and worth every penny!

bowman_steam_toys Bowman Steam Toys and Pond Yachts - The Early Years by Colin Laker

An all colour fully illustrated standard work The first of two books on the subject written and researched by Colin Laker with help from the Bowman Jenkins family. 262 A4 pages stitched and bound with a laminated paper cover Over 380 photographs and illustrations
The work is an historic journey from the mid 1850's to the early 1930's about the family and products of one of the Nation's greatest toy manufacturers. On this journey, the reader is introduced to the bombing of mainland Britain during the First World War, the early days of the Royal Naval Air Service and the exploits of Capt. Bernard Arthur Smart DSO and Bar, the legendary Zeppelin hunter.
By 1918 and running parallel to the dangers faced by his cousin Bernard, a young Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins had expanded his toy making business and was making wooden toys in a S.E. London workshop under the name of 'The Woodcraft Patents Company'. He was later invited by the Board of Directors of Hobbies Limited in Dereham, Norfolk to manufacture toy steam engines and boats under the Hobbies label. He moved from Clapham to Dereham with his wife and daughter in the spring of 1923.
By late 1927, he had expanded his product range and his cousin Bernard Arthur Smart joined him in Dereham to become a fellow director of Bowman Models. His toy steam engines, boats and locomotives are world famous and now command high prices at auctions.
Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins was a very inventive man with several Patents to his name, not least with the world's first hydraulic powered toothbrush. Named the 'KAVOR' an example can be seen in the Science Museum, London. He was also responsible for the creation of the 'Jentique Furniture' name; a firm which over the years gave employment to hundreds of people in Dereham.



bowman_steam_toys2 Bowman Steam Toys and Pond Yachts - The Later Years by Colin Laker

An all colour fully illustrated standard work The second of two books on the subject written and researched by Colin Laker with help from the Bowman Jenkins family. 296 A4 pages stitched and bound with a laminated paper cover Over 385 photographs and illustrations
Book 2 continues the journey to the present day. The cigarette company gift schemes were of great importance to Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins and this is dealt with in the first chapter. The 1930‘s saw the decline of Bowman steam toy production and the rapid expansion of the Jentique furniture business under the umbrella of Jenkins Production Ltd. The venture ran into trouble with Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins losing the business in 1936 in unsatisfactory circumstances. The inception of ‘Metamec’ under the direction of Bernard Smart is noted.
Without Bowman Models manufacturing toy steam engines for Hobbies of Dereham, the door was left open for a Geoffrey Malins to offer his services and this saw the birth of the world famous make of Mamod steam engines. After recovering from a nervous breakdown, Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins became his old self again and went on to manufacture wooden fire screens and also small mobile toys made from Pyruma cement in Moorgate House, Dereham. The toys proved so successful that he was propelled into the super tax league.
Circumstances take us to the devastating consequences of the Baedeker air raids on Norwich during the Second World War and the effect it had on the Jenkins family. In later years Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins moved to Ridlington where for a brief time he became a chicken farmer. Losing their lustre, these soon made way for the famous Ridlington Racing Yacht venture. All 35 yacht classes hereto not documented are featured and this should prove a valuable resource for the vintage pond yacht enthusiast.
Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins died in 1959 with the business succeeded by his son Max who also introduced kites and windbreaks to the product range. Towards the end, the work includes a large Vignette section which gives first hand accounts from various Norfolk folk associated with the story and concludes with ‘In Celebration of Bowman’ followed by a collection of maps and aerial photographs.