Neil Bedford – My Meccano History
My interest in Meccano goes back about as far as I can remember. My late Grandfather, Stan Bedford, was a real ‘Meccano Nut’ and so I was raised with Meccano at every Birthday and Christmas. My Grandfather took me to the first ever meeting of the South East London Meccano Club (SELMC) when I was about nine years old and that was it – I was seriously hooked!
Around that time my Grandfather retired (he had been a Civil Servant like myself) and he rewarded himself by ordering a brand new Set Ten from Hamleys of Regent Street. I still recall the day when he showed this to me – blimey! I now have that same Set Ten and think of my Grandfather every time I open the drawers. He was a very good ‘old school’ model maker who specialised in locomotives and clocks – neither of which I have ever managed to build well. He never quite understood electricity though and I remember him building some horrendously dangerous models powered by mains motors and my father (an Electrical Engineer) having to render them safe. Although Grandad lived well into his nineties, he never quite got around to growing up – something which I work very hard to emulate.
I was his ‘apprentice’ and together we would go to the big exhibition at Henley every year and I would marvel at the amazing models on show. I would come home disgusted by my own feeble efforts and full of inspiration to create better models. Through the SELMC I was lucky enough to know many of the great Meccanomen, including Eddie Oatley and Bert Love. At that time, ‘Mr Love’ was just a nice old boy who would often bring a few parts to meetings for me and it was only in more recent years that I came to understand that he was one of the greatest names ever to grace our hobby.
In those days my models would always be as large as I could possibly manage because, to my young mind, ‘bigger had to be better’. So lorries would pull huge trailers and cranes would have to use every last angle girder. My models rarely worked very well though and what impressed me most were those models which ran very quietly, without the sound of straining motors and grinding gears which always seemed to accompany my own creations!
This is me, aged about thirteen, with rather more hair than I have now and a typically ambitious model which stretched my collection to the very limit.
This is me aged around 15, with a remote controlled forklift truck. Behind me is my Grandfather, Stan.
I attended SELMC meetings well into my teens and then ceased building until I was around Thirty, after moving to Bristol and joining the SWMC. Fortunately I had kept all of my Meccano, realising that the lure of girls and cars and then the responsibilities of a young family and home of my own would be temporary distractions; whilst Meccano represented a hobby for life. These days, my collection is quite a large one, although still dwarfed by some of my Meccano pals.
My big treat every year, is to go to the National Meccano Exhibition at Skegness with a couple of close SWMC pals. Here I catch-up with Meccano friends from all over the World and enjoy a very relaxed few days by the sea. A few years back my model of a Routemaster bus was awarded fifth place which was a great thrill. I still don’t consider myself to be in the same league as ‘the big boys’ though (not by a long way) and this is one of the joys of our hobby – that you will never reach the top and will always see models which inspire you to greater heights.
If you want to see a few more of my models and to see some of the other hobbies which Meccano has to compete with in my life, then please have a look at my little website: