Kirkby – ‘Made on Merseyside’ Exhibition

This fascinating exhibition opens at Kirkby Gallery on Monday 23rd September and runs until 16th November. I blogged about it back in August and here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/05/kirkby-made-on-merseyside-exhibition/

As I mentioned in my original piece the Frank Hornby Heritage Center, which is based within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre, has loaned some items to the Hornby/Meccano part of the Made on Merseyside Exhibition. Indeed, this is the first time we have loaned out items to another exhibition.

The preview opening was yesterday evening and I went along to have a look taking my Merseyside Maritime Museum Assistant Curator daughter with me. We were genuinely impressed with what had been done with the Hornby/Meccano items loaned to Knowsley Council and of the wider exhibition which covers a number of historic and more modern day companies operating in Knowsley Borough and across Merseyside. Here’s a few photos of some of the other displays:-

These photos cover less than half of what’s included in the exhibition I might add.

One of its the aims is to teach local school children about the things that were once made locally and in some cases still are so bookings are available for school visits. All in all a great piece of work by Tina Ball of Knowsley Council and her volunteers.

And to close this posting another Binns Road, Liverpool Meccano factory product photo:-

Yes, it really is my old Meccano set which I donated to the Frank Hornby Trust a few years back. To find it on display at a public exhibition was a strange feeling when all I wanted to do was get into the case and start making something.

If you can get along to this great local exhibition to learn more about what was ‘Made on Merseyside’ then I hope that, like me, you’ll think it was time well spent.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

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 – 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.

Maghull – Hornby – Portillo – Watch the Maghull/Hornby edition on You Tube

Getting off the train from Liverpool

In case you missed the January screening of the BBC TV programme Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo, which visited Maghull because it was the home of world famous toy manufacturer Frank Hornby, here’s a link to it on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHv-kkL4rqsMy apologies as the link to the video has been removed due to a copyright issue it seems.

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre

Following the programme being broadcast the Frank Hornby Trust held an open day at Meadows Leisure Centre and Library in Maghull on 21st January and it was a great success with around 500 visitors on the day. The visiting Hornby tinplate ‘O’ Gauge railway layout (the same one as seen in the TV programme) was very popular with young and old.

FRANK HORNBY ROOM AT MEADOWS LEISURE CENTRE

Since then the Trust, on which Les French (as seen in the TV programme) and I are 2 of the trustees, has been getting enquiries about when our display cases are available for viewing. Presently there’s no easy answer because the Frank Hornby Room at the Leisure Centre is multi-use so it has a wide range of bookings for activities. On that basis we recommend that anyone wanting to see the display of Hornby related artifacts (Meccano, Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys etc.) contacts the Leisure Centre first to find out when viewing will be possible.

However, this situation should soon change as our display cases are to be moved within the Leisure Centre and following this they should be accessible whenever Maghull Library is open. The move is likely to take place within the next 2 to 3 months and we will ensure that when all is in place again that the opening hours/days are made well known.

THE ATKINSON – SOUTHPORT HAS A GOOD HORNBY DISPLAY

By the way The Atkinson in Southport has a decent display of Hornby items too if you are out that way. Sadly The Museum of Liverpool is far more limited in its displays of Hornby products.

Maghull – Hornby as seen on TV

Well the programme has finally been aired and a new star has appeared on the BBC. I refer of course to the screening tonight of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys and the guest star appearance in it by Les French, long time Maghull resident and Chairman of the Frank Hornby Trust.

Getting off the train from Liverpool

As a trustee of the Frank Hornby Trust I had been aware of the filming for the past 3 months, indeed back in October of last year I met with the BBC production team as they planned their work, taking them around the places in Maghull that Frank Hornby was associated with. Fellow trustee Les was on holiday when that first phase happened but all went well and a couple of weeks later the filming took place.

For probably less than 10 minutes on Maghull in the screened programme many hours were put in on the two visits to the Town, the first one being without Michael Portillo. I would guess 6 to 7 hours were spent in Maghull over the two visits.

It was fascinating to see how a TV programme like this is filmed and I took some photo’s during the work of the BBC team. However, they asked for any publicity about the filming to be left until after the Radio Times had run the programme in the appropriate edition. Apart from some obvious spotting of Michael Portillo on Maghull Station which led to the sightings being referenced on Facebook we kept to our undertaking not to publish anything.

So that’s how it happened and didn’t Les do well, seems that a place on the stage is meant for him. Here are some of the many photo’s I took:-

Leaving the Station

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre

Michael & Les playing trains

Two chaps talking about model railways

With thanks to the BBC, Merseyrail, the owners of Frank Hornby’s former house on Station Road, the staff at Meadows Leisure Centre and to Michael Portillo who is as engaging in conversation as he comfortable in his presentation role.

The second photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

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

Frank Hornby – Maghull’s most famous resident

hornby-room-29-11-16-2

Anyone who has owned a Dinky Toy, Meccano set or a Hornby Trains model will have been playing with something that takes it’s heritage from the late Frank Hornby.

rsz_hornby_11_12_2

He is probably the best known toy maker in the world and he lived for much of his life in Maghull at two houses on Station Road and later at what is now the sixth form block of Maricourt High School.

This photo shows an image of Frank Hornby as part of the logo for the Heritage Centre that the Frank Hornby Trust has created within Meadows Leisure Centre, Maghull

This photo shows an image of Frank Hornby as part of the logo for the Heritage Centre that the Frank Hornby Trust has created within Meadows Leisure Centre, Maghull

There are actually very few photos of Hornby about. The one below is a photo of a framed photo of him which is on the wall in Kensington House Sports & Leisure Club. This club is in Maghull’s Station Road, yards away from both of Hornby’s homes indeed the club (formerly known as Maghull Conservative Club) is just about slap bang in the middle and Hornby was a contributor to its construction.

frank-hornby

Maghull is also home to the Frank Hornby Trust which has a permanent exhibition to the life and works of Hornby in Meadows Leisure Centre, appropriately in the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre Room. Here’s a shot of that exhibition:-

There are a lot of Meccano, Hornby Trains and other items on display and every one has to be carefully cleaned now and again.

There are a lot of Meccano, Hornby Trains and other items on display and every one has to be carefully cleaned now and again.

So next time anyone says something along the lines of ‘who on earth famous has ever lived in Maghull’ you know the answer.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them