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?

Maghull – It was the Frank Hornby Trust Open Day yesterday – What a day!

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.

Boys Toys – At Old Christ Church Waterloo

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.

Dave Howel's Hornby O Gauge tin plate layout r

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:-

Meccano Union Pacific Diesel Loco

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:-

Model of Dazzel painted Mersey Ferry - Snowdrop r

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.

Morris Traveller r

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:-

Christ Church (1) r

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:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/