Frank Hornby

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The Man Who Invented Meccano & Hornby Trains

A Man who's observation lead to Meccano, Hornby Railways who became a multi millionare from making Toys.

  • Born at Copperas Hill, Liverpool May 15th 1863.
  • Invented Meccano whilst Working as a Clark at Elliots.
  • Went on to form Meccano Limited and build a Multi National Business which included Hornby Trains. Went on to serve as an MP. ...


Frank Hornby had been making metal models for his two sons in his garden shed. However he realized that if he used strips perforated with holes at a set distance and a system of standard size clips or bolts to make up a model then that model could be taken apart and used in another model. Hornby eventually settled on strips of 3 sizes, 2.5, 5.5 and 12.5 inches long with a hole every half inch. 8 Gauge wire served as Axle Rods followed by clips, angle brackets and wheels.

Early Nickel and Brass Meccano 1901-1926

Frank Hornby produces his first construction sets as Mechanics Made Easy 1901- 1907

Meccano Ltd is born with its factory in Binns Road during The Nickel Meccano Period 1907- 1926

Meccano gains Colour 1926-1939

The first use of colour Burgundy & Dark Green 1926-1934

New Colours and a Change in Sets Blue & Gold 1934-1939

Red and Green Meccano 1945-1963

Meccano faces Post War Shortages and Shortages due to the Korean War which is known as the, Black Period' Buy Go on to produce Sets during the Red and Green era 1945-63

Meccano Gains New Owners 1963 - 1980

The Hornby Family is forced to sell to Triang after poor preformance in the early 1960's. Triang goes bust in the early 1970's and is Sold to Airfix, During the Zinc and Yellow Period

Hornby railways

Frank Hornby started manufactering Hornby O Gauge Railways in 1920

This was followed shortly after Frank Hornby's death by Hornby Dublo in 1938

dinky cars

Nearly as famous as Hornby is Dinky Cars first manufactured a little before Frank Hornby's Death in 1936

An Extensive range was manufactured at Binns road until its closure in 1980

Photo Gallery

A few photos of Products made by Meccano Ltd over the years



Meccano Pump

Meccano LMS Loco

Meccano Snowplough

Small Meccano Crane

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