2019 must go down in politics as a really sad year for anyone who describes themselves as a progressive. That the UK has become more isolationist and racist is regretfully a given but for me as a passionate internationalist our frankly bizarre decision to become at best semi-detached from our European neighbours both economically and politically is profoundly depressing. I’m reminded of the play ‘Brick up the Mersey Tunnel’ as 2019 could easily be the start of us, at least in the abstract, bricking up the Channel Tunnel.
Anyway here’s my year; some big issues, some matters close to my heart and some personal reflections:-
January – Elected Mayors – too many and too costly – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/01/20/metro-mayor-tax-another-call-on-your-pocket/
February – Why we have a housing crisis on our hands – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/20/council-housing-social-housing-housing-associations-whats-gone-wrong-and-why-we-have-a-housing-crisis-on-our-hands/
March – HS2 the Brexit of the railway world – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/16/being-anti-hs2-is-a-bit-like-brexit-its-all-about-the-rose-tinted-past/
April – Rotten Boroughs – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/04/23/local-elections-are-rotten-boroughs-creeping-back-into-out-creaking-democracy/
As an aside I still remember a remark made to me on the day that I became Leader of Sefton Council in 2004. It was in the form of a question to me along the lines of ‘what’s the most important thing for the Leader of Sefton Council to do? Answer – Keep the Council out of the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ page of Private Eye!
Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.
May – Time to celebrate in 2020 – 100 years of Hornby ‘O’ Gauge trains – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/05/27/maghull-2020-will-be-100-years-since-the-towns-most-famous-resident-brought-his-o-gauge-trains-to-the-market/
June – Still getting the local housing market wrong! – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/22/sefton-council-draft-strategic-housing-market-assessment-update-2019/
I realise that the link within the article no longer works
July – Co-option is not democratic, just stop it – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/14/melling-theres-a-price-to-pay-for-democracy-but-surely-its-better-than-co-option/
August – Air conditioning in shops and cafes an environmental disaster – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/26/supermarkets-cafes-shops-turn-down-or-even-better-turn-off-your-air-conditioning-shut-that-fridge-door/
September – A look back at New Heartlands in Bootle – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/09/04/bootle-newheartlands-pathfinder-housing-initiative-a-look-back/
October – The late great Isaac Hayes with Donald Byrd – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/10/25/isaac-hayes-the-master-jointly-cut-a-track-id-missed-back-in-1981/
November – Norman – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/11/06/norman/
December – Tactical voting (by progressives) did not work – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/12/16/why-peoples-vote-and-other-tackical-voting-orgs-sites-got-so-much-wrong/
So that, for me, was 2019 – a year when housing policy/practice remained far removed from the reality of our housing crisis, when the very real crisis of climate change took a back seat to the made up crisis of Brexit and when the crisis within progressive politics was exposed as much by our warped electoral system as by the lack of leadership from progressives. A year to forget unless of course you back the politics of the right and far right…….
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’re 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?
Wow what a day. On the back of the BBC plugging our small Frank Hornby Heritage Centre within Meadows Leisure Centre via an edition of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys (screened last Thursday) we held an open day and the world turned out to have a look at our display cases and a visiting Hornby tinplate O gauge modelrailway layout.
Here’s the model railway being set up on the previous day:-
The layout, as seen on TV with Michael Portillo wanting to take it home, was set up by a couple of good friend of the Frank Hornby Trust.
Here’s a shot of visitors (we think around 500 turned out to see the displays) enjoying the day:-
Thanks the Champion newspaper for giving our Trust such great publicity and the staff of Meadows Leisure Centre who were only too willing to assist us.
Well you will not be surprised, if you know me that is, that I went along to this show in the former church now exhibition/performance venue in Waterloo, Crosby.
There were all kinds of ‘boys toys’ both inside and outside the building. Model trains were of course the draw for me and I was pleased to spot a Hornby tinplate layout, which is always a delight to see.
Meccano was also well represented and this model of what is in real life a huge (now preserved) Union Pacific EMD DDA40X 6,600 hp diesel loco was the stand out item for me:-
There were some interesting model boats too. Not my scene really but you have to admire the workmanship that goes into them. This is a model of the Mersey Ferry Snowdrop in dazzle paint:-
An old Morris Traveller car look my eye outside as my old Dad had one in the 1960/70’s. Built like tanks they were with the wooden frames. Dad’s one probably saved his life when he was hit side on at speed at the A59-Northway/Hall Junction in Maghull in the days before it had traffic lights and red light jumping cameras.
As I have mentioned in previous postings about Christ Church, it is a beautiful place and well worth a visit just to see the architecture:-
Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
The photos of the Meccano diesel, Snowdrop ‘dazzle’ ferry and Morris Traveller are on my Flickr pages at:-