Phil’s Meccano History

My earliest memory of Meccano is on my 6th birthday, when I was given a Pocket Meccano set as a present from a neighbour who was more like an aunt to me.  I also bought another pocket Meccano set with some birthday money and with these two sets I constructed my own models, not making any that were pictured in the model plans.    

My interest grew in all things mechanical as my Dad was an agricultural engineer and we went on trips to vintage steam rallies, which usually had a Meccano display in the model tent.                                               

My next Christmas present was a set 4 in Blue, Yellow & Zinc.  Boxing Day was spent constructing models with Dad but being careful to choose models which didn't require bending strips and plates.  The first model we made was a set 3 Excavator substituting the bucket with a crane hook.

Over the years I added to the set with sets 4a & 5a and trips to Lawsons Store in Plymouth which sold parts in individual blister packs. My next Birthday/Christmas present was the Army Multikit but although I made most of the models in the instruction book, I didn’t like the preformed cab that could be assembled with only 2 pieces.

On a visit to my local Library in Kingsbridge amongst a pile of library books for sale was Bert Love's Model Building in Meccano for 30p. I snapped it up and wondered why the library was selling it - the library probably wanted to make room for Mills and Boon paperbacks. Through reading this book I learnt it was OK to use Meccano parts in unorthodox ways to achieve a desired result as the word 'unorthodox' appeared frequently throughout the text. I still have this book with the 'withdrawn from Devon library service' rubber stamp mark. The key paragraph for me is in page 85 "If the modeller is to use pre-formed Meccano parts then they must play the game and not mutilate parts to fit the ½ inch spacing with which he is confronted with and not be a slave to accurate scale".

This is why I have made some Play the Game Rules:

  1. Only refurbish parts to parts that existed when the Binns Road was in full production.
  2. Respray to near Binns Road colours.
  3. Only collect parts that have 'Meccano Made in England' on them.

Exceptions to the rules are non-Meccano parts like ash tray tyres, wire mesh to simulate radiator grills and to respray parts to enhance a model over all colour.

My Meccano collection has grown with Meccano acquired from toy fairs and gifted from friends. I enjoy restoring parts as this is the cheapest way of adding to my collection and gives the parts a new lease of life as they might otherwise have been thrown away.

Since joining SWMC, I have made a lot of likeminded friends and enjoy their company and support at meetings and exhibitions.