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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
This is the last of my postings regarding the quite excellent new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool which is presently inaccessible due to our health crisis of course.
Anything to do with Hornby and the products of his Binns Road factory interest me as a Trustee of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust so of course the section of the Liverpool on Wheels exhibition was always going to draw me to it. Here are my photos:-
Like the Museum of Liverpool the Frank Hornby Experience exhibition (within Meadows Leisure Centre) in his home town of Maghull is also presently closed but hopefully both will be accessible when we come out the other side of this dreadful health crisis. I’m guessing that the period the Liverpool on Wheels exhibition will be open could be extended? It’s presently due to close on 1st November………
My congratulations to Sharon Brown (Curator of Land Transport at NML) and her colleagues for an excellent exhibition.
Click on the photos to enlarge them
The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-
This fascinating story of the last days of the Meccano Factory is a significant part of the recent history of Liverpool.
The Frank Hornby Trust was set up a few years ago to celebrate the life, work and products of world famous toy maker Frank Hornby. He lived for most of his adult life in Maghull on Merseyside in two houses – The Hollies on Station Road and Quarry Brook which is now the 6th Form building of Maricourt High School. The first English Heritage Blue Plaque erected outside of London was placed on The Hollies at the request of Maghull Town Council, who then put a plaque of their own on Quarry Brook.
Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.
The Frank Hornby Experience is Maghull’s very own museum showing many Meccano factory products. It’s located within Meadows Leisure Centre on Hall Lane in Maghull and is accessible, free of charge, whenever Maghull Library is open. The Frank Hornby Experience is curated by trustees of the Frank Hornby Trust.
So whilst the loss of the Meccano factory was keenly felt back some 40 years ago the Frank Hornby Trust has done what it can to ensure that Maghull’s most famous resident and his products (and the products of his successor companies) are on display for present and indeed future generations to admire.
Many people living in retirement in Sefton, Liverpool, Knowsley etc. will have worked at this world famous toy factory. Indeed, many visitors to the Frank Hornby Experience displays within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Center tell us that they or a relative worked there and it’s always great to hear stories about working lives there.
Not so long ago, with the help of Keith Page, I purchased a Dinky Toy model of a green and white toy bus which was made at the Meccano Factory. Here’s the bus:-
Then my fellow Frank Hornby Trust trustee Les French pointed out that there’s a photo in Jim Gamble’s book ‘Frank Hornby Notes & Pictures’ of a lady spray painting the very type of bus I had purchased. I made contcat with Jim Gamble, who lives in Nottingham and is pretty much the greatest living expert on Meccano, and asked him if he had the original photo – he did! Here it is:-
The photo is from the 1950’s I might add and as Jim Gamble says in his book ‘Note the minimal amount of protection from paint or fume contamination’
The toy bus and the 1950’s photo are now displayed together in the Frank Hornby Heritage Center, which is located within Meadows Leisure Centre, Hall Lane, Maghull. The displays are open for the public to look at during the normal opening hours of Maghull Library.
Click on the photos to enlarge them
Note:- To my knowledge there were red and white toy buses made too but because the 1950’s shot is in black and white it could clearly be of buses being sprayed in other than green and white.
I’m always happy to promote local history events and this looks to be one to check out between the 23rd September and 16th November:-
Poster for Made on Merseyside Exhibition at Kirkby Gallery
Click on the poster to be able to read the text on it.
And here’s a map showing how to access Kirkby Gallery:-
The Frank Hornby Heritage Center, based in Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Center, is pleased to be lending some items to Kirkby Gallery as one part of this exhibition will cover the Binns Road Meccano Factory in Liverpool and its products.