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SiVoll's picture
SiVoll
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Binns Road closes the gates for the last time.

I often think of this, the factory in Binns Road is closed in 1979. I seem to remember Mike Richardson and some others managed to get into the factory and tried to retrieve items being dumped into skips.Anybody got any of these stories to share,any members part of that group trying to rescue items from the factory ? What was left in the factory ?
Such a shame nothing remains of the Meccano Factory :(

dinkycollect's picture
dinkycollect
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Hi Finja,

A book will be launched next week at Sandown park. It was writen by the late Mike Richardson and Michael Driver. I think that it will answer your question.

The Dinky Toys Encyclopaedia contains a full chapter about the Binns Road factory with many pictures.

SiVoll's picture
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Thank you DinkyCollect, sounds like I may have the answer soon?Can it be ordered via post and for how much ? I feel it may be one to put on the Christmas list. :)

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Binns Road might have closed in November 1979, but the place still attracts thousands of tourists who are drawn to this "holy" site. Well, that might not be exactly correct, but the place did attract one Dinky Toys enthusiast who travelled all the way from Australia to England, and then dragged his reluctant family to Binns Road. Here is that intrepid traveller, holding his 192 De Soto Fireflite that he brought back with him to its birthplace! The 192 is probably one of the very few Dinky Toys to have made the return trip to Liverpool. It is also definitely the world's most travelled Dinky Toy as since that first visit to Binns Road on 14 August 2005, it has accompanied its owner on travels to Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, The Philippines, and Singapore five times and a further three times back to the south of England - all as the owner's good luck charm!

In case you missed the De Soto!!

Fred7A
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So have you worked out how many miles that Dinky De Soto has "on the clock"? :)

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Yikes! I have just completed calculating the distance we have flown together with my little good luck charm 192 De Soto since 2005 and it works out to be 260,669kms or 161,972 miles, based on my flight log. Actually it is more likely a little further as we have come into Heathrow on five occasions with each involving a few circuits before landing.
:) Now I am afraid not to pack it each time we fly! :ohmy:
Well, that is its air miles travelled, but not included are the ground mileage! That is going to take a little longer to calculate as I never thought to record all our numerous tour coach's odometer reading at the start and the end of each tour! Then there was a four day Aegean cruise . . .!
But I am still afraid not to travel, including flying, motoring, sailing without that little Dinky Toy!!! One big LOL!! :)

starni999
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Hi Bruce,
You've made me ashamed of myself. I only live 150 miles or so away, and I've never been to Binns Rd.
Pilgrimage ahoy!
Chris Warr.

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A true Dinkymaniac should make a pilgrimage to Liverpool once in his lifetime indeed! Being also a Beatle maniac and a shipping history maniac, Liverpool has been my destination several times in the early 2000s.

Binns Road will be a disappointment if your expectations are too high, because it really takes some imagination and thorough map reading - or nowadays using GPS - in order to find the sacred place of the factory (which has completely vanished, even no memorial or whatsoever).

Nevertheless, I had a lot to do in the city centre, visiting the nice museums and doing some research in the Meccano Archives and in the William Brown Library.

I dug up quite some nice stuff relating to the factory, the site and Meccano/Dinky Toys history in general.

For a non-British citizen the Mersey Tunnel was an intriguing event too. I like these historical master pieces of technique and architecture very much.

A thrilling confrontation with the 1956 catalogue front cover!

And my search for the no. 255 Dinky Toys Mersey Tunnel Police Van brought me to some officers of the Mersey Tunnel Police, who were very helpful by sending me the documentation ands other photographic information I wanted to my home address afterwards. A contemporary Mersey Tunnel Police Van above.

On the basis of some of their information I immediately reconstructed some versions of the MTPV after returning home.

At an antiques market in the Liverpool St. George

Dinkinius's picture
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Jan
I loved the photo taken of the entrance into the Mersey Tunnel and comparing it with the June 1956 catalogue. Great stuff! I wish we had more time in Liverpool, but we were on our way to Carlisle and then Inverness and finally to meet a ferry at Scrabster going to The Orkneys. Next time.....if I can convince the better half that we really have to go back to Liverpool!
Kind regards
Bruce

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Continuing with what I posted earlier, here are some more pictures of what was in place beside Binns Road in 2005. Unfortunately, the favourite watering hole for many a Meccano employee, The Railway Hotel has changed its role and is now The Lyndan Guesthouse, but according to their website is still a family-run pub-inn.

The "Private Road" that provided the entrance to the Works Offices and the Administration block was located where the roundabout can be seen in the far distance.

Bruce (150)
August 2014

dinkyfan's picture
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Jan & Bruce--
Great photos and info on our beloved Binns Rd. area and what is left of it. So sad that someone did not take the time to document the area better before it was demolished. Did Mike and Sue Richardson make any attempt to document the site via photos when they visited and found some relics there? And Jan, great job you did showing the catalog and then the photo of the tunnel entrance...so nice and Dinky did capture it well on the cover.
Terry

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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At work assembling the 281 "Pathe News" Camera Car at Binns Road, April 1967. The model was released in June, so work was in full steam two months before building up sufficient stock to be distributed to the Meccano agents as well as being shipped around the world. Note the presence of several quite attractive young ladies!

dinkycollect's picture
dinkycollect
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When the factory closed, John 12 years old son of a Meccano worker wrote this poem.

starni999
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Thanks Jacques!
I wonder how much is known about the very end? I've heard all sorts of stories, and know that relations between workers and management were very poor indeed. The late '70's in Britain were rife with industrial action sadly.
I've heard stories of Airfix bringing in new machines, but because they would have required less labour to run them, and therefore redundancies, that they were never used and strike action resulted.
What do we know about the workers occupying the factory in the sit in?
It's easy to look back now and think more should have been documented, but if the closure of Austin Rover in Birmingham a few years ago is anything to go by access to the works would have been difficult, and quite dangerous as feelings were indeed running high, and lots of people were out of work.
Chris Warr.

Dinkinius's picture
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Packaging Room, Meccano, Binns Road, Liverpool, April 1967

Cartons of Dinky Toys awaiting despatch to various overseas destinations. Note the cartons destined for Paris, Dallas/Houston, Melbourne and Sydney.

dinkycollect's picture
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Bruce,

These are great pictures, do you have many more ? Where do they come from ? Are they publishable ?

Dinkinius's picture
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Chris
So you live 150 miles from Liverpool and have never been to Binns Road? Shame, shame! You will have to plan on a holiday to that vibrant city, and if possible take with you any photographs you can find showing the exterior of the factory beside Binns Road, and see if you can match the same spot today. I have now set your homework for your next holiday! :laugh:
Bruce (150)

starni999
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Hi Bruce,
It's even worse than that mate, I trade at the Chester Toyfair, and from there it's 41mins to Binns Rd according to good old Google maps. I've even got Dinky's with me in the van.
Rest assured I'm on it next time!
CW.

starni999
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Hi Bruce,
It's even worse than that mate, I trade at the Chester Toyfair, and from there it's 41mins to Binns Rd according to good old Google maps. I've even got Dinky's with me in the van.
Rest assured I'm on it next time!
CW.

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Further to my previous posts, after Binns Road, my family and I went in search of where the Beatles actually performed for the first time that started them on the road of fame. Not the Cavern, but the Casbah Coffee Club that was located in the basement of the Beatle's first drummer. Pete Best. Mrs Best had encouraged her son and had created the coffee club, but in 2005 we had no idea of the house number. Well we eventually found Haymans Green and drove up and down the street expecting to see a plaque or some recognition of the significance of this location, but nothing. Thanks to modern Google I now know it to have been 8 Haymans Green. While searching for this street, we were continually hampered with the quaint way the British "signpost" their roads, lanes, streets, etc; on a wall, house, hidden by bushes, trees or in many instances, simply non-existent! By the way, those were the days without Navman, Garmin, Tom Tom. I downloaded directions from the AA and printed them out before leaving Australia. My eldest daughter then acted as our navigator, reading these directions and checking with the little map I had also downloaded, but still we were at the mercy of non-existent or carefully hidden street signs!

Chris - so there will hopefully be more Dinky Toys returning to their birthplace in the not-too-distant future? Good one - so hope your visit is the start of a stampede! I might have to bring more of the little fellows with me to match the numbers you take along!! :laugh:

Bruce (150)
24 August 2014

Dinkinius's picture
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dinkycollect wrote:

An application form for the DTCA Dinky Toys Club of America was printed under the hanging box of the 1979 cost reduced US re-issue of the G.M.C. Brinks truck.

I use the words hanging box so that this type of packing can not be mistaken for the Visi-Pac, both of them are often called window boxes which is confusing.

As for the closure of the factory, the foreing agents were certainly not aware of the bad state in which the company was. In 1970, consultants were called in to improve the profitability. Their proposals were rejected at every level from the management down to the workers and mainly the six unions who were running the shops.

The decision to close the factory may have been taken as late as the day before the closing. On November 30th the manager of Airfix turned up at the factory and simply said : we close down to-night.

The unions organised a sitting which lasted until March 1980 but this did not help and the factory was demolished soon after.

If you want to read the whole story, this is the book that you need, available on Amazon and probably on order at your local book shop.

"

Jacques

Your above Post on Meccano's Dinky Toys Club Thread brought to mind an article I wrote 15 years ago. The following is the article from my DINKY NEWS Issue 10 September 2000 that covers the demise of the company from another perspective. Apart from the staff being notified on 30 November 1979, but a memo went out to all of Meccano's clients advising that Meccano Limited would cease manufacturing as of 30 November 1979. That memo, signed by Ray McNiece, Managing Director, was dated 30 November 1979. I will include a copy of this memo on this Thread later.

Regards

Bruce (150)
#606
8 June 2015

dinkycollect's picture
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Bruce,

Thank you for duplicating my post to this thread. I was not aware of it's existance.

Thank you also for posting your very interesting article which complements Kenneth Brown's excellent book which is well worth the

Dinkinius's picture
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Jacques

It was very fortunate and timely that Kenneth Brown, seven years after his article had appeared in the British journal, Economic History Review, he enlarged on it and wrote that fascinating account of the "FACTORY OF DREAMS", the story of Meccano Limited. (I presume it was just a typo when you wrote "Worse" instead of "Worth"!!)

I highly recommend this book to all who are collectors of Dinky Toys.

With Meccano being a large part of the industrial and personal history of Liverpool, it is most unusual that nothing has been done by the civic authorities in that city to mark the location of this world-famous factory. There must have been literally thousands of people, mainly women, who worked at Meccano at some stage in their lives. During our visit to Binns Road, I had to "guestimate" exactly where the factory stood. There was no problem with The Railway Hotel, as this famous Meccano watering hole was still there although under a different guise.

Kind regards

Bruce (150)
#619
11 June 2015

dinkyfan's picture
dinkyfan
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Bruce--
First, thanks for sharing your earlier article on the demise of Meccano. I had purchased Brown's book a few years ago, and your observations that were summwrized tie in very nicely with his.
It is hard not to be melancholy whenever I read about this sad time; such an inglorius end to a beloved and well known firm, that had for so long been the leader in the diecast toy field. I second your thought that any serious Dinky collector should read his book. Besides the sad end, there is much more to learn about Frank Hornby and the company.
It also reminds of a very similar, sad ending, at almost the same time, for another well known company, and a contemporary of Hornby and Meccano......A.C. Gilbert Co., makers of the American Erector Set and American Flyer Trains. I had, and still have, several childhood American Flyer train sets, and at an early age took an interest in them second only to my Dinky's. Much the same kind of management and market problems befell Gilbert in the early to mid 1960's, with A.C. Gilbert himself still running the company as a very old man, until he finally turned it over to his son way too late. In a matter of a very few years, two old, well known toy companies bit the dust. By the way, I learned recently that the Gilbert Co. had, for a short time, become the U.S. distributor for Meccano, after their long association with H.Hudson ended around 1960 or so. I also wonder how that termination happened.....did Dobson see the handwriting on the wall and simply get early, or was Meccano ready for a change?
Regards,
Terry

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Terry

Thank you for your words, especially on A.C.Gilbert & Company. I am not sure why Meccano changed distributors, but A.C.Gilbert and Co must have only held the distributorship for a very short time as the last distributor was AVA, unless ACG became known as AVA. In 1965, the distributor was Tri-ang so I presume this was when H Hudson Dobson relinquished their association with Meccano, no doubt due to the take-over by Tri-Ang in 1964. I must read TGBoD again in case anything I have just written requires extracting my foot out of my mouth!

Kind regards

Bruce (150)
#623
11 June 2015

starni999
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Hi all,
Great posts Bruce, truly a sad time for British industry. It is easy to forget now just how clearly the battle lines were drawn between Unions and Management in the 70's. British industry tore itself apart during this period, and many great companies were lost.
I can't imagine the left wing Liverpool council putting up a plaque to the "Arch scabs" at Meccano, but maybe one commemorating the sit in after closure would be more likely?
Chris Warr.

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Greetings All!

Thanks Chris for responding so nicely to my post. Most appreciated. One would hope that the sentiments that prevailed while the company was in existence would have by now dissipated somewhat and that clearer heads would prevail!

Further to my previous post dated 8 June 2015, wherein I mentioned that I would be posting a copy of the letter signed by Ray McNiece, Managing Director, Meccano Ltd dated 30 November 1979 that went out to all of Meccano's clients advising that Meccano Limited would cease manufacturing as of 30 November 1979. Herewith is a copy of a copy of the letter in question, extracted from my DINKY NEWS dated March 1999, hence the poor quality of the image.

I am also including a copy of the entire page from Dinky News that included my thoughts at the time.

Kind regards

Bruce (150)
#628
12 June 2015

dinkycollect's picture
dinkycollect
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More about A.C. Gilbert, Hudson Dobson, AVA and other Meccano agents on :

Meccano inc.

http://dtcawebsite.org/dinky-forum/2-dtca-forum/6117-meccano-inc#6118