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.
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’re 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?
I have not blogged about the Trust for a while now but it recently purchased an original postcard as depicted below:-
Whilst the used postcard is not in the best of condition it is a very significant shot of the part of Station Road in Maghull (in the 1920’s?) where Frank Hornby first lived (at The Hollies) and where English Heritage installed their Blue Plaque on 6th July 2000. The plaque had been requested by Maghull Town Council to celebrate the town’s most famous resident and it sparked a local historical plaque scheme promoted by the Town Council.
Hornby’s house, where he lived for 10 years, is the one with the bay window furthest away from you when viewing the postcard. The scene is looking down Station Road with the Great Mogul Pub and Maghull Railway Station being behind the photographer.
When he left the Hollies Hornby moved just a few yards down Station Road to Quarry Brook which is now a part of Maricourt High School.
Click on the postcard to enlarge it.
The Trust has a Facebook page at:-
It also has a significant display of Frank Hornby related memorabilia and products from his Liverpool Binns Road factory in Meadows Leisure Centre on KGV Park in Maghull. They are in the Frank Hornby Room which is immediately on your left as you enter the main doors of the Leisure Centre. The room is well used for various health, fitness and community activities so its best to check with the Leisure Centre before you set out to look at the display to see when it is free.
This shot was taken whilst cleaning of the display cases was taking place in 2016.