Frank Roberts (model maker)

Frank Roberts (1882–1963) was a New Zealand pioneer in building model trains. His models were extremely accurate and reflected the history of the New Zealand railways.

Roberts spent his early career working for New Zealand Railways Department as a cleaner, fireman and driver before becoming a partner in an electrical firm with his brother Jack. In 1903 Roberts built his first model which was of the "Wa" class steam locomotive using a scale of 1:19. Over the next 50 years he was to develop a garden railway at his home in Epsom, Auckland. His meticulously accurate working models of examples of the locomotives and rolling stock found on New Zealand railways became a local attraction. The popularity of this layout led to Robert's being commissioned in 1938 by the Railways Department to build and operate a working model train layout for the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition.

Robert's work for the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition (1940) showed him at the peak of his expertise. The New Zealand Railways Department section of the exhibition was extremely popular.

Roberts sold his models to the Railways Department in 1950 and was employed by them to maintain them as working models. In 1993, just prior to privatisation, New Zealand Rail Limited gifted the collection to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

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