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Meccano In My Childhood

meccano manualThe Meccano set No. 3 bought for my seventh birthday by my father an electrical engineer in the middle of June 1953 costing about 25/- (oops 1.25 in today's money), helped me to decide that I was going to become an engineer. My family were on holiday during the last fortnight of the month of my birthday at Brampton Junction Farm, then run by John Foster. On the morning of my birthday, a Monday I was presented with my Meccano set, but, before I was permitted to build any models my father took me to a tool shop in Carlisle.

"You're not going to use that poor excuse for a screwdriver that Meccano provide in their sets". He bought me my own screwdriver; I was allowed to select the colour of its handle, there being no blue one available I chose red.

The first model that I built at my father's suggestion, was the Garden Seat model 0.1 in the instruction manual. After my father had checked that I had read the instructions, built the seat correctly and that all the screws were tight, I was allowed to progress onto another model of my own choosing, so I chose the Motor Lorry model 1.4.
garden seat motor lorry meccano magazine cover My first Meccano models and my first issue of the Meccano Magazine.

Having completed one model in the manual and playing with it, I'd take it to pieces and move onto the next model in the manual. Now I was completely hooked on the Meccano construction kit and an avid reader of the Meccano Magazine. I decided to use my birthday and Christmas presents to build up the Meccano as shown in the table below, and that some of my pocket money would be spent on the monthly Meccano Magazine and extra Meccano parts.

Christmas followingSetBirthdaySet
7th Birthday3a making a set No.48thMagic Clockwork Motor
8th Birthday4a making a set No.59th5a making a set No.6
9th Birthday6a making a set No.710thNo.1 Clockwork Motor
10th Birthday7a making a set No.811thGears set
11th Birthdaymoney saved for 8a12th8a making a set No.9

When I was about 12 years old my mother was approached by someone on the housing estate that gave her some pre-war Meccano in a wooden box. "Our lad doesn't want this any more, your lad might be able to use it". After school I opened the wooden box and was presented with a world of Meccano in totally different colours from my childhood medium red and green. My father said "You're a lucky lad, that is a Set L." and that when he was a boy he would have given his eye teeth for such a set.

When I was sixteen I started my apprenticeship as an electrical fitter and armature winder with C. A. Parsons Ltd in Heaton, Newcastle. I lived on the other side of Newcastle some two bus journeys away, so I sold my beloved Meccano in order to buy a motor bike for my seventeenth birthday.

Meccano In My Retirement

Nearly sixty years later and now married to Sim (Simone pronounced "Seemon"), I returned to the construction kit that started my career. Acquiring the parts to make up a No. 6 Meccano set and a Mechanisms set, I started constructing various models and mechanisms.

After discovering the valuable Meccano resource at NZmeccano.com, I managed to obtain the instructions for the crane shown opposite, which appeared in the June 1953 issue of the Meccano Magazine. In true Meccano tradition I modified the model's steering replacing the cord with a rod and two rod and strip connectors, one of which can be seen in the photograph attached to the bush wheel at the bottom of the steering wheel rod.

Learning about the existence of the North East Meccano Society, I joined the society at their Meccano Magic weekend at Locomotion, Shildon. Later on that year, I was to exhibit a working model of Richard Trevithick's Wylam Locomotive as shown below at the N.E.M.S. Model Mania weekend at Shildon.

By the way the model of John Steele (1781-1818), Richard Trevithick's northern agent who is driving the locomotive; was made out of modeling clay by my wife, Simone.

On 22nd June 2013 I went to exhibit my models at the Haraby Community Centre, Carlisle, the 60th anniversary of my first Meccano set screwdriver (see above).