Last edited 26 Jan 2021


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Meccano is a toy for children of all ages that allows them to construct models and mechanical devices. A Meccano set usually comprises reusable, perforated metal or plastic strips, plates, axles and wheels which can be bolted together in various configurations.

The Meccano system was created in 1898 by Frank Hornby who originally called the toy ‘Mechanics Made Easy’. It is thought the name Meccano derives from ‘make and know’.

Originally manufactured in Liverpool, Hornby later set up manufacturing centres in France, Spain and Argentina. The Meccano brand was acquired in 2013 by Spin Master, a Canadian toy maker.

Despite its age, Meccano is still highly regarded as a toy that can foster creative thinking and manual dexterity, and can be an indicator of a child’s future interest in architecture, construction and engineering. It is believed that Nicholas Grimshaw's early interest in design and construction became apparent, in part, through his love of making models out of Meccano.

In 2009, James May, the then Top Gear presenter, along with student engineers, used Meccano to build a bridge spanning the 40-foot wide canal at the Pier Head in Liverpool. The bridge used 100,000 pieces of Meccano and took more than 1,000 people-hours to build.

In 2015, Engineering students from Queen's University Belfast created a 100-foot footbridge across Belfast's Clarendon Dock made from Meccano. The bridge was part of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Northern Ireland’s “This is Civil Engineering” campaign, which highlighted innovative projects that improve the quality of life in local communities.

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