The Guild was launched formally by Frank Hornby in Sept 1919 Meccano Magazine, following an essay competition, “How I would run a Meccano club”, earlier in the year.
It seems to have started in response to the spontaneous appearance of separate local Meccano clubs, one of which was in Bristol (see MM Dec 1918, Mar 1919 in Brislington). Many were in association with pre-existing clubs e.g. Scouts.
Note the date, just after the end of WW1, and the founding of the Boys Brigade 1883, Crusaders’ Union 1906, Boy Scouts 1910...
The stated aim was “to make every boy’s life brighter and happier, to foster clean-mindedness, truthfulness, ambition and initiative in boys, and to encourage boys in their studies and hobbies, especially knowledge of mechanical and engineering principles”. The unstated aim was to develop the customer base for Hornby's products. It was apparently unthinkable that girls would be interested...
Clubs were organised locally with support from Liverpool; later individuals could become members directly, and “lone” members could join a Correspondence Club (“pen-friends”) from Sep 1920.
Connection with the concept of mediaeval craft and merchant guilds was made (MM June 1920).
Bronze medallions were issued via the clubs for presentation of papers and for recruiting new members (Sep 1920) – solid gold for the best recruiter in the country!
Cash prizes (£250 – a lot in those days!) were offered for winners of model competitions from Sept 1920. Many of these models found their way into the standard set instructions.
Meccano Magazine (MM) was the “organ” of communication, and published a series “How to run a Meccano Club” from Feb 1924, and Guild Secretary reports up to 1935.
Affiliated clubs were established across the world – the catch phrase was “The sun never sets on the Meccano Guild” (c.f. the British Empire).
After the demise of Meccano Ltd in 1979, the Meccano Guild folded, but already existing adult Meccano modelling clubs (such as Midlands Meccano Guild 1968) took over. Ours was founded by Malcolm Hanson in 1984, and the International Society of Meccanomen in 1989 . These are still going strong, with a strong internet and local following.
Meccano is still sold, but we are not finding many keen young people...