My review of 2020 – No Brexit, no COVID

I’ve been looking back at my blog postings throughout each month of 2020 and I’ve picked out the 12 most interesting from my perspective:-

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

January – Access to the Port of Liverpool & Sefton Council’s far, far too late Judicial Review application – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/01/21/access-to-port-of-liverpool-and-that-oddly-timed-judicial-review/

Cottages in Sefton Lane, Maghull (September 2012) – Sadly flooding here has a long history

February – Will building Maghull’s vast new urban extension lead to more flooding? – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/02/24/maghull-heavy-rain-reminds-us-of-the-potential-peril-of-building-on-agricultural-land-locally/

Sunny Southport Cricket

March – Watching County Championship cricket at Birkdale – so sad it’s seemingly a thing of the past – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/03/30/southport-when-patrick-the-fastest-bowler-in-the-world-bounced-into-town/

Liverpool Exchange Station in 1977

April – Looking back at a once great station – Liverpool Exchange – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/04/29/liverpool-exchange-station-long-gone-but-not-forgotten/

Jim Sharpe RIP

May – The sad passing of an old style community journalist of note – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/01/jim-sharpe-rip/

June – Policing has long been a political interest of mine and a big frustration when it fails to deliver – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/06/08/policing-when-it-goes-badly-wrong/

Meccano

July – Reading the history of Liverpool’s famous Meccano Factory – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/07/22/liverpool-factory-of-dreams/

August – Vehicles on pavements the curse of the selfish motorists – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/08/03/pavements-r-4-pedestrians/

Merseyside Maritime Museum

SeptemberLife on Board a new exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/18/life-on-board-exhibition-at-mersey-maritime-museum/

The present Sandy Lane Changing Rooms building – Lydiate

October – Banging the drum for football changing facilities in Lydiate – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/10/28/lydiate-progress-on-sporting-fitness-facilities/

Litter

November – Lydiate’s volunteer litter pickers – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/11/07/lydiate-and-its-volunteer-litter-pickers/

Meccano

December – A remarkable Meccano canal bridge – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/12/03/boltons-meccano-canal-bridge/

So that was 2020 trying hard not to mention Brexit or Covid. The items posted here are just a small selection of my many (far too many I hear you say) blogs about all kinds of things which have caught my attention during a very odd year indeed. Here’s hoping for a better 2021…..

Bolton’s Meccano Canal Bridge

Well this had completely passed me by and it was a photo displayed on Flickr yesterday which caught my eye and made me find out more. Here’s a couple of links to this marvellous project:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-22051441

www.northwestmeccano.co.uk/Giant%20Bridge.html

The pedestrian bridge is close to the Nob End/Prestolee flight of locks on the Manchester, Bury and Bolton Canal which is presently undergoing restoration.

As a Trustee of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust which runs the Frank Hornby Experience exhibition within the Town’s Meadows Leisure Centre I’ve been delighted to learn of this wonderful piece of scaled up Meccano artwork, if belatedly. Must get to see it.

My thanks to Barnsley Victor on Flickr for permission to use his photo which is at the head of this posting – www.flickr.com/photos/123594177@N08/50673950813

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.

Liverpool – The sad end of the Binns Road Meccano Factory

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/how-liverpools-meccano-workers-were-17323473

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.

Maghull – Frank Hornby Trust news

Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on BBC TV’s Great Railway Journeys.

Yesterday saw our trustees meet up at our Frank Hornby Experience exhibition space within Maghull’s Meadow’s Leisure Center for a day of work on our exhibits.*

We had a lot to do to sort through recent donations and start a cataloguing process for the charitable trust. We were also installing new exhibits, erecting some really nice new graphics and generally tidying things up.

It was great that Ray Clarkson came over from Bolton and Jim Gamble from Nottingham to assist us.

Last Monday we picked up all the items we had loaned to Knowsley Council for their Made on Merseyside exhibition at Kirkby Gallery, which we understand was a great success. The graphics we were erecting yesterday had been donated by Kirkby Gallery and had been created specifically for their exhibition. The Frank Hornby Trustees are very grateful to Kirkby Gallery for the donation of them at the end of their exhibition. This is how they look in Meadows Leisure Center:-

A few months ago, we were approached by Mark Ravenscroft whose Dad John had been a technical drawing expert at Hornby’s Binns Road factory in Liverpool. Mark donated to us a rather nice drawing his Dad had done in 1969 of a Range Rover car as part of the production process for a then new Dinky Toy’s new model of it. We’ve now had the drawing framed and mounted on the wall, together with a Dinky model of the car, within our exhibition area. Here’s a shot of it:-

As with any exhibition things are always changing due to new donations of Meccano, Dinky Toys and Hornby Railway items made to our Trust by local people and those further afield.

The exhibition is open for the same hours as those of Maghull Library.

* Frank Hornby lived most of his adult life in Maghull at two houses – The Hollies in Station Road and Quarry Brook in Hall Lane which is now the 6th Form building for Maricourt RC High School. Frank is buried in the graveyard of St. Andrew’s Church.

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