Meccano – An introduction & a visit too if you wish

The Frank Hornby Heritage Centre within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre.

As a Trustee of the Maghull based charitable group the Frank Hornby Trust I found the introductory video – linked below – from Sharon Brown (National Museums Liverpool’s Land Transport Curator) very useful.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bmwqnENVdA

As a 60+ year old I can of course remember Meccano, Dinky Toys & Hornby Railways very well but younger folk may not, so the video may help connect younger generations with a huge piece of both Liverpool’s history and the toys of previous generations of their own family too.

Another view of the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre.

The Frank Hornby Heritage Centre, which is within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre, is presently open to visit each Tuesday and Friday (10am to 4pm) but only with a previously made booking. This is of course due to Covid 19 restrictions. If you want to visit please e-mail t3robertson@gmail.com so that a visiting slot can be arranged.

Frank Hornby lived for most of his aldult life in Maghull on Merseyside. His 1st house (The Hollies) in Station Road has an English Heritage Blue Plaque on it and his 2nd house (Quarry Brook) which is now the 6th Form block of Maricourt High School a Maghull Town Council plaque.

Maghull (NORTH) – What do you know about Maghull?

Branch Line Society charter train at the new Maghull North Station 08 12 19

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiedVGK9H_8&t=331s

Because I’m a railway enthusiast I came across the video (linked above) on You Tube. In brief, the folk on the video pride themselves on having visited every railway station in the country and with Maghull North being a new station they had to tick it off their list by going to it. The Maghull part of the video starts at around 4 minutes into it and it lasts for about 4.5 minutes. But who is the Maghull ‘special guest’?

Well it’s a bit humour, local history and railways so go on have a look at it………

This was the first every train to stop at Merseyrail’s new Maghull North Station – 5.58am on 18th June 2018.

Maghull – Limited reopening of Frank Hornby Heritage Centre

The Frank Hornby Heritage Centre (FHHC) exhibition is to reopen on Friday 31st July by appointment only. It will then be open each Tuesday and Friday – 10am to 4pm – until further notice. The opening days/hours mirror those of Maghull Library with which it is co-located within Meadows Leisure Centre.

Visits to it are by appointment only

To book a visiting time please e-mail – caractorgraphics@yahoo.co.uk – and say which Tuesday or Friday you wish to visit and suggest the best time for you. Please do not visit without gaining an agreed date/time slot as entry to the exhibition is being strictly controlled. Track and trace information will be recorded for each person visiting the Leisure Centre.

Please also note that access to the FHHC will NOT be via the main Leisure Centre doors but via the blue door on the right in the photo below, which will also be the access to Maghull Library.

The trustees of the Frank Hornby Trust, which curates the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre, are delighted to be able to welcome back public access to our exhibition.

Liverpool – Factory of Dreams

Factory of Dreams – A history of Meccano Ltd – by Kenneth D. Brown is a book which was published in 2007

As a Trustee of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust (Hornby lived in Maghull for much of his adult life) I had been meaning to read this book for some time and lockdown gave me the perfect opportunity. The book runs to 230 pages of quite detailed information about the highs and lows of the company from start (1901) to finish (1979) and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about Hornby Railways, Dinky Toys, Meccano and indeed other products of the vast former Binns Road toy factory in Liverpool.

Many of the photographs displayed in the book are from my good friend and fellow Frank Hornby Trust Trustee Jim Gamble who has penned his own book – Frank Hornby Notes & Pictures the cover of which is displayed below (held by me) with Jim in Meadows Leisure Centre, Maghull.

For those of you reading this who don’t know, we have a permanent exhibition in Maghull celebrating the life, works & products of Frank Hornby. It’s called the Frank Hornby Experience and it’s a bespoke part of Meadows Leisure Centre which is run by Sefton Borough Council who are valued partners of the Frank Hornby Trust. Of course access to the exhibition has been curtailed during the pandemic lockdown but we hope to be able to reopen it soon and will publicise how it can be accessed.

Returning to the book which is the subject of this posting, what I liked about it is the very obvious attention to detail by the author who clearly put great effort into understanding how Meccano Ltd was run and indeed run down.

I suppose the sad part of the story is in many ways the most relevant, how the company went into decline over a long period of time. I certainly get the impression that it’s last 20 years were, with the benefit of hindsight, leading to just one outcome – closure. Indeed, when I got my Meccano set around 1966 the end of it being a Hornby family-controlled company had already happened (in 1964) and it was being run by Lines Brothers prior to Airfix taking over in 1971 with the end coming just 8 years later.

Despite the end being so sad the book is in fact a very good read indeed.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – That old Station Master’s House is living once again

My good friend Les French (Chairman of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust) has a story that goes along the lines of Hornby used the buildings at Maghull Station as the basis for his tinplate model buildings. And you know Les could well be right as we know that Frank lived literally yards away* from Maghull Station and that he used the train regularly if not daily.

So bearing that in mind the slow decline of the old Station Master’s house in Melling Lane adjacent to the level crossing over recent years has been very unfortunate. Here’s how it looked in 2006:-

This shot of the former Station Master’s House was taken in June 2006.

But whilst this historic local building looked to be down and out it has survived to be given a new lease of life and it looks like this today:-

It’s nice to see it being given a second chance even in a modernised form.

* Hornby lived firstly at ‘The Hollies’ on Station Road and then latter at ‘Quarry Brook’ in Hall Lane (still close to the station). Both still stand ‘The Hollies’ as a private house and ‘Quarry Brook’ as the 6th Form Block of Maricourt RC High School.

Hornby’s first house ‘The Hollies’ is in this postcard photo.

Maghull – Frank Hornby wins Borough of Culture local poll

MySefton has the article on its website – see link below:-

mysefton.co.uk/2020/01/27/hornbys-in-the-driving-seat-for-the-sefton-stories-project/

Quote from MYSefton website – ‘Frank Hornby has steamed ahead, reinvented himself and engineered top spot in the Sefton Stories Project launched as part of Sefton’s Borough of Culture year!

The inventor from Maghull, topped the list of 10 stories synonymous with Sefton, by claiming 28% of the total vote.’

A great piece of model Meccano engineering

Obviously the Trustees (I’m one of them) of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust who run the Frank Hornby Experience exhibition within the Town’s Meadows Leisure Centre and Library are delighted by the result of the poll of local people. Maghull, as demonstrated previously by one of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys TV programmes being filmed in the Town, is becoming well known for having a world famous toy maker as it’s most famous former resident.