Dinky Toys – Do you have any in your attic or loft?

If suburban Maghull, a dormitory town of Liverpool, is famous for anything it’s the fact that world famous toy maker Frank Hornby made it his home and there’s a small Hornby Heritage Center within the Town’s Meadows Leisure Center for folks to visit. It’s open whenever Maghull Library is open, so check the current times on the web and come and visit.

The Frank Hornby Trust, who set up the Heritage Center, have been fortunate to either purchase, have donated or be loaned many items in its display (Meccano, Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys etc.) but one area of our collection that could do with expanding is Dinky Toys. Do you have any in your loft or attic which you would be prepared to donate to the Trust for display in our collection?

The bus featured in this posting has just come into our collection:-

If you can help please email me at t3robertson@gmail.com

I am by the way a Trustee of the Frank Hornby Trust.

Maghull – 2020 will be 100 years since the Town’s most famous resident brought his ‘O’ Gauge trains to the market

I still have to pinch myself when I think that world famous toy manufacturer/inventor Frank Hornby lived for most of his adult life in Maghull on Merseyside, but live in this dormitory suburb of Liverpool he certainly did at two houses – The Hollies on Station Road and Quarry Brook off Hall Lane. Both houses still stand and whilst The Hollies is very much still a private residence (with the first ever English Heritage Blue Plaque on it outside of London) Quarry Brook is now the 6th Form Block of Maricourt High School.

Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.

So having rehearsed that bit of local history what about the upcoming anniversary? Hornby’s most famous products are Dinky Toys, Meccano and Hornby Trains. It’s the latter we looking at now as his first ‘O’ gauge trains appeared in 1920, so 2020 is a big year particularly for those who collect them. And it’s a worldwide hobby too as the transmission of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys TV programme has demonstrated. I’m talking about the one that was filmed in Maghull and related the story of how model railways became so popular as a consequence of people riding on real railways. As that TV programme gets shown around the world the Maghull based charity the Frank Hornby Trust gets queries quite literally from across the world. Only recently I had an email (I’m one of its Trustees) from Australia asking me what the opening times and days are for Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Center so the enquirer could see the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre displays within it on a visit from Down Under.

100 years of Hornby ‘O’ Gauge

And even more recently I had the pleasure of meeting an elderly lady called Noel from Ashton-In-Makerfield who called at the Heritage Center to donate some items of Hornby ‘O’ gauge tinplate which had belonged to her now deceased husband who wanted the items well looked after. The items date from the 1930’s and are in lovely condition, so of course we were delighted to accept them into our collection. The engine and carriage below are from that donation:-

I understand that members of the Hornby Collectors Association are in the process of organising a 100 years celebration event next year that it will likely be held on Merseyside, so once details are finalised I’ll return to this matter with more information.

Oh and by the way our small Hornby Heritage collection in Meadows Leisure Center is a little short of good condition Dinky Toys if there are any potential donors out there?

Merseyrail – A cab-ride from Liverpool Central to Ormskirk in 1990

A Merseyrail train passes the former Maghull Signal Box @1990. The last track plan, from the now demolished box, is now on display as part of the Frank Hornby Trust’s exhibition area within the Town’s Meadows Leisure Center – Copyright Noted HSG

Take a while to sit back to look at this video on You Tube, it’s surprising what has changed since 1990 just using Maghull Station as an example:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuqL1P8l6B4&feature=player_embedded

Maghull Station in 1991 looking south – the old semaphore signals are of course long gone – Copyright Noted HSG

At 17 minutes and 25 seconds on the video the train passes the former Maghull Signal Box (removed in 1994) and straight after the former Station Master’s House which was then falling into disuse and subsequently dereliction – see photos below – but it is rising from the ashes once again and being rebuilt as part of a new housing development on land behind the Liverpool bound platform.

Maghull Station Master’s House in July 2006

Maghull Station Master’s House May 2019

It is said that world famous toy maker Frank Hornby who lived in two separate houses in the Town, both close to Maghull Station (The Hollies & Quarry Brook), may have used Maghull’s station buildings as inspiration for his model buildings as he regularly took the train from his local station.

With thanks to Mike Penn for the lead to this posting

Sefton Focus Review of 2018

It’s always interesting to look back at a year just ending – lessons can always be learned from history (even very recent history) but that’s a piece of traditional advice many of our present-day politicians really seem to struggle with.

So let’s look back at the past 12 months via 12 Sefton Focus postings – each month has a link back to my original posting. It’s my personal take on 2018:-

January – A celebration of everything Hornby:-

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre Maghull – Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV this year.

Well, I had to start this review with the TV programme which put Maghull firmly on the map. I refer of course to the Town being a part of one of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys celebrating the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident – Toy maker Frank Hornby:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/18/maghull-hornby-as-seen-on-tv/

February – Pavement Politics:-

We Libs are known for our ‘pavement politics’ so it’s no surprise that in February I was going on about pot-holes! Sadly, as we shall see later, a pot-holed/poorly maintained road which I mentioned back in Feb’ ended up being a contributory factor to a cyclist’s death later in the year.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/02/26/the-state-of-our-road-surfaces-on-your-bike/

March – Youth and CAB make way for Police:-

The move of Maghull’s Police Station from Westway into Maghull Town Hall, facilitated by Labour-run Maghull Town Council, made my blood boil because a successful CAB help point (still not replaced when we were told it would be) and a unique youth facility (a Youth Coffee Bar run by local young people) were both lost to make way for the boys and girls in blue.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/03/24/maghull-cheering-on-the-new-police-station-no-remembering-what-we-lost-to-rehouse-the-police/

April – Oh for decent services on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line:-

Departure board at Southport Station.

Railways have always been of great interest to me and I’ve been a member of OPSTA for many years now. Their campaigning to bring about a decent train service from Southport to Wigan and Manchester has been long-running and as I type it still is. This was the state of things back in April BEFORE the complete melt-down of the May timetable changes. Note – I think it fair to say that Merseytravel have now upped their game a little regarding services on this line but the reliability of it (It’s run by Northern Trains) is still very poor indeed.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/18/southport-loss-of-trains-to-manchester-airport-and-piccadilly-seems-merseytravel-has-form-here/

May – Did Merseytram burn Merseytravel’s fingers?:-

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.

In May I mused about the lack of significant public transportation developments across the Liverpool City Region and pondered on whether the failed Merseytram project burnt Merrsytravel’s fingers too hard.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/25/merseytravel-did-merseytram-knock-the-stuffing-out-of-innovative-progressive-transport-planning-in-the-city-region/

June – Canal Breach in Melling:-

The Leeds Liverpool Canal breached in the Waddicar part of Melling during June, stopping the many pleasure boats that use the canal during the summer season. The canal was closed for quite a few weeks whilst repairs were undertaken by the canal and River Trust.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/13/melling-canal-breach-this-mornings-photos/

July – How accessible is the new Maghull North Station?:-

I penned this posting a few weeks after the new station was opened. The level accessible route into the station has now been provided although there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists off School Lane.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/07/23/maghull-its-new-north-station-an-accessible-interchange/

August – The sad death of a local Councillor and cyclist:-

The August posting links directly back to the one I highlighted in February i.e. the fatal accident involving Melling Parish Councillor Alion Doyle who was cycling on one of the lanes in Aughton which I raised concerns about back then. A stretch of this lane, maybe a 100 yards or so, is still in terrible condition this December and I have raised this with Lancashire County Council. Such a sad loss of life. RIP Allison Doyle.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/08/20/aughton-fatal-accident-on-bold-lane/

September – The battle against fracking:-

Being an environmental campaigner the battle against Fracking is important to me as it is to many others. This month’s chosen posting is about Lydiate Parish Council gaining information from the volunteer campaigners against fracking. And yes, Lydiate PC did subsequently agree to put £500 to one side to help the volunteer Moss Alliance with their legal costs.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/27/lydiate-parish-council-gets-insight-into-fracking/

October – Building on high-grade agricultural land, which feeds us, is the politics of the madhouse:-

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Another environmental campaign that I feel passionately about. That governments and councils (of any political colour) can allow building on the highest grades of agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, is utterly mad to me – a subject I have blogged about many, many times…..

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/15/we-import-50-of-our-food-now-do-opposition-politicians-get-why-i-keep-banging-on-about-saving-high-grade-agricultural-land-from-development/

November – Ormskirk to Preston Line – The worst performing in the UK?:-

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

As the year dragged on for the poor long-suffering passengers of Northern Rail questions began to be asked about whether the line from Ormskirk to Preston could possibly be the worst performing in the UK. The question was taken up by BBC News with particular reference to a whole week without a single train running on the line. Performance can only improve in 2019, it just could not get any worse.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

December – The battle to try to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from Highways England’s plans for a new road:-

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

And to close 2018 a subject I have oft-blogged about, the campaign to try to stop Highway’s England building a new road to the Port of Liverpool through Rimrose Valley Country Park. There have been many angles which I have reported on but the bizarre tangle Sefton Council’s Tory Group have got themselves into takes a lot of beating.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/04/rimrose-valley-country-park-are-sefton-tories-backing-highways-england-plan-for-new-road-through-it/

Maghull Station – Rebuilding the Station Master’s House

After many years of decline, it looks like work has now started to rebuild Maghull Station’s Station Masters House as part of the redevelopment and house building project behind the Liverpool bound platform. Here’s a photo I took on Remembrance Day on my way into Liverpool:-

It’s said (by no lesser person than Les French Chairman of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust) that the railway buildings of Maghull Station were a probable inspiration for Maghull’s world-famous toy maker Frank Hornby who lived just yards away from the station and who caught the train to work there regularly. On that basis, the derelict Station Master’s house has sadly been an unfortunate stain on the Town’s character in recent years.

Here’s hoping for a more positive future for a historic railway building………

Maghull – Frank Hornby Heritage Center is back up and running

Below is a press release from Les French Chairman of the Frank Hornby Trust who manage the Frank Hornby Heritage Center in Maghull’s Meadows Library and Leisure Center:-

‘We are absolutely delighted to announce that the FRANK HORNBY HERITAGE CENTRE is now BACK OPEN FOR VISITS following the completion of the move from the ground floor of Meadows Leisure Centre to our very own dedicated space above the library.

This means that as of NOW, our Heritage Centre, which is the only one in the world solely dedicated to Frank Hornby, his life and his products, is available to everyone during Maghull Library hours.

It is totally FREE to enter during weekdays between 10am and 5pm and Saturdays between 10am and 2pm, just follow the signs from the front entrance.

We hope that we will now be able to hold more events like the open day following the BBC2 programme ‘Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo’ which gave the Heritage Centre and our Town some tremendous publicity.

Some of our trustees have managed to get the display up and running, and whilst there is still some work to do and spaces to fill, despite having more to look at that before, we have plans to further expand the displays.’

‘It is hoped to have an official opening when we are ship-shape and Bristol fashion, so keep in touch via facebook and we’ll keep you updated.

Massive thanks to Mike Woodruff, Meadows Centre Manager, and Sefton Council for the concept, care and realisation of the project which will be a massive boost to our work in commemorating the home town of the World’s Greatest Toymaker, and of course the Trustees of the Frank Hornby Charitable Trust for giving their time and expertise so freely’

‘p.s. If anyone out there has anything associated with Meccano, Hornby, Hornby Dublo or Dinky then please consider lending or giving it to us so that we can share it with everyone. We would particularly love anything that has a family or works connection, he is our most famous ever resident!’

Note:- The lead photo was used by the Champion Newspaper in its article on this matter dated 27th June 2018.