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Thread: Hornby Trains and Meccano

  1. #1
    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Default Hornby Trains and Meccano

    Frank Hornby (15 May 1863 – 21 September 1936) was an English inventor, businessman and politician. He was a visionary in toy development and manufacture and produced three of the most popular lines of toys in the twentieth century: Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys. He also founded the British toy company Meccano Ltd in 1908.

    Hornby was born on 15 May 1863 in Liverpool.

    In September 1907, Hornby registered his famous "Meccano" trade mark and used this name on all new sets. In order to raise more capital to invest in a larger factory and plant, a company had to be created. This lead to the formation of Meccano Ltd on 30 May 1908. Elliot had decided not to join the new company, leaving Hornby as the sole proprietor. The Meccano factory was relocated to West Derby Road in Liverpool, and in 1910 the famous "MECCANO" logo was commissioned. Meccano Ltd's turnover for the 1910 financial year was 12,000 pounds.

    Meccano was exported to many countries and in 1912, Hornby and his son, Roland, formed Meccano (France) Ltd in Paris to manufacture Meccano. An office was also opened in Berlin, Germany and Märklin began to manufacture Meccano under licence. Hornby also started importing clockwork motors from Märklin.

    In order to keep pace with demand, a new factory was built in Binns Road, Liverpool. By September 1914 the Binns Road Factory was in full production and became the company headquarters for over 60 years.

    By the 1930s, Hornby had become a millionaire. He owned a mansion and was chauffeured to Binns Road every day by limousine. Hornby died of a chronic heart condition complicated by diabetes in Liverpool on 21 September 1936. His elder son Roland took over as Chairman of Meccano Ltd.

    Hornby's legacy lives on today with thousands of enthusiasts all over the world still building Meccano models and running Hornby Train sets.

    Source: Wikipedia

    Images courtesy of Liverpool City Library and the Records Office and show production of Hornby train sets. The workers are almost entirely women with men seeming to be in supervisory/overseeing roles.
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  2. #2


    And to think that some shoddy 'health superstore' thing stands on the site of the factory. Meccano was brilliant, as were the toy trains, and far better than modern toys.

    Lines Bros (owners of Tri-ang Railways) bought out Hornby Railways, although the Hornby name was kept. Tri-ang already had the factory at Margate, which is where the Hornby trainsets were produced after the takeover, but now it's all gone to China. I think the Margate factory has been retained for warehousing/admin/etc.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Paul D's Avatar
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    Meccano was used to develop icons such as the Bletchley Park Enigma Machine,the London Eye,Issigonis's Mini and Nobel Chemist Sir harry Kroto used meccano to work out the shape of the Carbon 60 Molecule and says that the decline in popularity of Meccano has been "a disaster for the education of our young engineers and scientists.

  4. #4


    Quite true. As a kid my dad bought me a massive box of old green and red Meccano at an autojumble - £6, a complete bargain! I had hours of fun! And he photocopied me some of his old instruction books. Some of the models on the front covers were fantastic, like the big crane. I remember trying to build a three-speed gearbox as a small child - surely that's more educational than some stupid games console?

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Senior Member Norm NZ's Avatar
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    Default Hornby Trains!

    I still have a 4-6-2 Hornby loco ("Barnstable") that I bought for my 'one year old son' way back in 1957!! Yes! he's 50 this year!! but I still keep the loco!! as a fond memory of times gone bye!

  7. #7


    They're worth upwards of £100 - nice little nest egg! I've got boxes of later Tri-ang and Hornby stuff at my parents' house - hopefully one day I'll have a kid and then I'll have a good excuse to dig it all out!

  8. #8


    Both my Mum and Dad worked at Mecanno.I had all the Thunderbirds toys.Wish I still did to be honest.

  9. #9
    Guest theninesisters's Avatar


    My late pop used to work at Meccano and we've still got loads of stuff associated with the place. Wouldn't sell any of it for a big clock though, sentimental reasons and the like. Us kids got some amazing pre production toys and just went about smashing them up as you do - they'd be worth a mint on e-bay now

  10. #10


    Aye,I wish I still had me Tonka trucks as well.

  11. #11
    Guest theninesisters's Avatar


    Quote Originally Posted by stan View Post
    Aye,I wish I still had me Tonka trucks as well.
    Painted yellow I seem to remember ;o) I'll dig out a picture of one!!

  12. #12
    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Sep 2005


    My mum worked in the Meccano.

  13. #13


    sad story

    an old guy i know, used to work for oldham brothers demolition in crown street, they demolished meccanno, and he had to smash up all the tools and jigs and everything,

    he took a load of railway stuff that was going to be thrown out, and went and sold them to norman hatton of hattons


  14. #14
    Guest MariaC's Avatar


    Ive got an original meccanno set still in the box an hasent even been opened. My uncle give it to me years ago but Ive been told to hang onto it, 'cos it might be an antique some day.

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by mike delamar View Post
    an old guy i know, used to work for oldham brothers demolition in crown street, they demolished meccanno, and he had to smash up all the tools and jigs and everything
    It's a shame when that happens. So often lots of interesting and historical stuff is binned.

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