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?

Sefton Focus Review of 2018

It’s always interesting to look back at a year just ending – lessons can always be learned from history (even very recent history) but that’s a piece of traditional advice many of our present-day politicians really seem to struggle with.

So let’s look back at the past 12 months via 12 Sefton Focus postings – each month has a link back to my original posting. It’s my personal take on 2018:-

January – A celebration of everything Hornby:-

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre Maghull – Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV this year.

Well, I had to start this review with the TV programme which put Maghull firmly on the map. I refer of course to the Town being a part of one of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys celebrating the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident – Toy maker Frank Hornby:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/18/maghull-hornby-as-seen-on-tv/

February – Pavement Politics:-

We Libs are known for our ‘pavement politics’ so it’s no surprise that in February I was going on about pot-holes! Sadly, as we shall see later, a pot-holed/poorly maintained road which I mentioned back in Feb’ ended up being a contributory factor to a cyclist’s death later in the year.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/02/26/the-state-of-our-road-surfaces-on-your-bike/

March – Youth and CAB make way for Police:-

The move of Maghull’s Police Station from Westway into Maghull Town Hall, facilitated by Labour-run Maghull Town Council, made my blood boil because a successful CAB help point (still not replaced when we were told it would be) and a unique youth facility (a Youth Coffee Bar run by local young people) were both lost to make way for the boys and girls in blue.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/03/24/maghull-cheering-on-the-new-police-station-no-remembering-what-we-lost-to-rehouse-the-police/

April – Oh for decent services on the Southport-Wigan-Manchester line:-

Departure board at Southport Station.

Railways have always been of great interest to me and I’ve been a member of OPSTA for many years now. Their campaigning to bring about a decent train service from Southport to Wigan and Manchester has been long-running and as I type it still is. This was the state of things back in April BEFORE the complete melt-down of the May timetable changes. Note – I think it fair to say that Merseytravel have now upped their game a little regarding services on this line but the reliability of it (It’s run by Northern Trains) is still very poor indeed.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/18/southport-loss-of-trains-to-manchester-airport-and-piccadilly-seems-merseytravel-has-form-here/

May – Did Merseytram burn Merseytravel’s fingers?:-

This promotional Merseytram bookmark is about all that Liverpool City Region has to show for its big tram ideas.

In May I mused about the lack of significant public transportation developments across the Liverpool City Region and pondered on whether the failed Merseytram project burnt Merrsytravel’s fingers too hard.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/25/merseytravel-did-merseytram-knock-the-stuffing-out-of-innovative-progressive-transport-planning-in-the-city-region/

June – Canal Breach in Melling:-

The Leeds Liverpool Canal breached in the Waddicar part of Melling during June, stopping the many pleasure boats that use the canal during the summer season. The canal was closed for quite a few weeks whilst repairs were undertaken by the canal and River Trust.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/13/melling-canal-breach-this-mornings-photos/

July – How accessible is the new Maghull North Station?:-

I penned this posting a few weeks after the new station was opened. The level accessible route into the station has now been provided although there’s still no dropped kerb for cyclists off School Lane.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/07/23/maghull-its-new-north-station-an-accessible-interchange/

August – The sad death of a local Councillor and cyclist:-

The August posting links directly back to the one I highlighted in February i.e. the fatal accident involving Melling Parish Councillor Alion Doyle who was cycling on one of the lanes in Aughton which I raised concerns about back then. A stretch of this lane, maybe a 100 yards or so, is still in terrible condition this December and I have raised this with Lancashire County Council. Such a sad loss of life. RIP Allison Doyle.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/08/20/aughton-fatal-accident-on-bold-lane/

September – The battle against fracking:-

Being an environmental campaigner the battle against Fracking is important to me as it is to many others. This month’s chosen posting is about Lydiate Parish Council gaining information from the volunteer campaigners against fracking. And yes, Lydiate PC did subsequently agree to put £500 to one side to help the volunteer Moss Alliance with their legal costs.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/09/27/lydiate-parish-council-gets-insight-into-fracking/

October – Building on high-grade agricultural land, which feeds us, is the politics of the madhouse:-

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Another environmental campaign that I feel passionately about. That governments and councils (of any political colour) can allow building on the highest grades of agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, is utterly mad to me – a subject I have blogged about many, many times…..

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/10/15/we-import-50-of-our-food-now-do-opposition-politicians-get-why-i-keep-banging-on-about-saving-high-grade-agricultural-land-from-development/

November – Ormskirk to Preston Line – The worst performing in the UK?:-

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound (when it’s not being replaced by a bus). The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

As the year dragged on for the poor long-suffering passengers of Northern Rail questions began to be asked about whether the line from Ormskirk to Preston could possibly be the worst performing in the UK. The question was taken up by BBC News with particular reference to a whole week without a single train running on the line. Performance can only improve in 2019, it just could not get any worse.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

December – The battle to try to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from Highways England’s plans for a new road:-

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

And to close 2018 a subject I have oft-blogged about, the campaign to try to stop Highway’s England building a new road to the Port of Liverpool through Rimrose Valley Country Park. There have been many angles which I have reported on but the bizarre tangle Sefton Council’s Tory Group have got themselves into takes a lot of beating.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/12/04/rimrose-valley-country-park-are-sefton-tories-backing-highways-england-plan-for-new-road-through-it/

Meadows Leisure Centre & Library – Frank Hornby Trust Displays

If you live in the Maghull area you will have seen the headlines in this week’s Aintree & Maghull Champion about the contraction of the Town’s library into a space only about one third the size of what it was when the new library was opened in 2010.

The demise, reductions and contractions of public libraries is sad in any circumstance and it is a matter I have blogged about on many occasions. However, this particular posting is more about the consequences of the major changes at Meadows Leisure Centre and Library. In particular the remodeling of the Centre/Library is having a significant impact on the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre which is based within the building.

The Heritage Centre is run by the Maghull based charitable trust – The Frank Hornby Trust – and it helps celebrate the life and works of Maghull’s most famous resident. On display in the Frank Hornby Room on the ground floor of the leisure centre has been a large museum quality display case with many Hornby related artifacts within it. Here’s a photo of it:-

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

But the Franky Hornby Room is being repurposed into offices for Sefton Council so our display cases are on the move. They are moving upstairs into part of what was the 2nd floor of Maghull Library and the move starts tomorrow Saturday 21st April when Trustees will be packing up the items ready for the display cases to be moved. This means that for a period of a few weeks, whilst the works are ongoing, there will be no access to the Hornby items.

The good news however, is that when the works are complete the display cases will be accessible whenever Maghull Library is open. This is a significant improvement on the present situation because the Frank Hornby Room has always been multi-use, so access to the displays has depended on other activities in the room.

Since Michael Portillo visited the Frank Hornby Room on one of his Great British Railway Journeys the Frank Hornby Trust has had many enquiries from folk across the UK who want to see the display of Hornby items:-

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre – Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV this year.

There’s much work to do over the next few weeks but the Trustees hope that following the move the displays will be back up and accessible for people to see towards the end of May this year. More publicity will follow.

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 – Frank Hornby Trust Open Day

To celebrate the fact that our Maghull based Trust made prime time TV on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys programme on Thursday evening last we are holding an Open Day at Meadows Leisure Centre from 11.30am to 5pm this Sunday 21st January.

Above you can see our display case with many Hornby historical items held within it. We will also have a large Hornby tinplate O gauge model railway up and running in the Hornby Room thanks to a very good friend of the Frank Hornby Trust. It’s the same layout that was seen on the TV programme.

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre

Meadows Leisure Centre is at the junction of the A59 (Northway) and Hall Lane in Maghull – access is off Hall Lane.

No charge and all are welcome to come have a look

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/