1907 - 1926 NICKEL PERIOD

 

By 1907 Mechanics made easy was going from success to success, Elliott Hornby found new premises at Duke Street Liverpool. the James Street premises were just one room where kits where packed. At Duke Street Elliott Hornby hired a one room factory that was large enough to start manufacturing most of the parts in a building with several of these rooms. However as demand grew they needed more room and by 1909 they had leased all the building. The business bought several new machines and took on a number of staff.

duke st

10 Duke Street in modern times.

At this point however a new name was coined. Mechanics Made Easy had served Frank Hornby well but was a bit of a mouthful. The name was shortened to one word 'Meccano.' At a similar time the partnership Elliott Hornby was dissolved and replaced by a new company Meccano Ltd. Frank Hornby has a number of new backers, David Hugh Elliott who had been effectively a sleeping partner for some time retired from the venture whilst all the assets of Elliott Hornby were transferred to the new company.

set 5

Early 'Meccano' Set

Within 2 years Meccano Ltd had moved to the old carriage works in West Derby Road, a larger premises which allowed more parts to be made in house, by this time Meccano was not only selling across Britain but across the world and becoming a very recognizable brand. It had gone from a crude kit to the standard bearer which others where judged by protected by patents world wide. Frank Hornby as managing director of a flourishing company was drawing a comfortable salary.

west derby road

West Derby Road

By 1914 Meccano Ltd was again looking for new premises as the business had outgrown the West Derby Road site. However this time finances allowed the building of a new factory from scratch a site was found in the Old Swan district of Liverpool at Binns Road. An address that would be associated with Meccano for the next 65 years.

 

The Mechanics Made Easy sets where all identified by letters, by the time the Meccano name came into being there where 6 sets and 35 different parts, mostly made up of strips, axle rods, and wheels either pulleys or gears. One colour dominated nickel silver. Early in the Meccano period the sets where changed from letters to numbers with set one being the smallest, set 6 the largest. By 1911 the first flanged plates had been added. By 1913 the number of parts had grown to 50 and parts had been given numbers for easier identification.

 

With World War 1 raging little changed in the Meccano range until 1922, Meccano was sold throughout the war with shortages only affecting the company in 1918. In 1922 the number parts where doubled with the introduction of different lengths of strips, angle girders and axle rods. Washers were introduced that year as was flat plates, couplings, triangular plates, screwed rods, curved strips, braced girders, flat girders, trunions and a host of special parts. This was to coincide with the introduction of a new largest set Number 7 housed in a large wooden box.

Nickel Set 5

Nickel Set 5

From the outset meccano was about movement., Models where meant to have working parts, so it was that in 1912 that this movement could now be motorized be means of 2 new clockwork motors No1 and No 2. Battery operated motors where added in 1916 whilst electric motors where added in 1925. Over the years Meccano have made various other sets apart from the main range. In 1912 they introduced the Royal Meccano set to coincide with the coronation this set was later incorporated into the main range as set 0. In 1920 inventors Outfit B and the first Electrical Outfit where introduced. By 1925 the Meccano range had grown up to over 100 parts, 8 sets and several motors. There was just one thing missing Colour, most of the parts where Nickel Silver however all that was about to change.

MAIN EVENTS OF THIS PERIOD

  • 1907 Elliott-Hornby opened their first factory at Duke Street
  • 1907 Meccano name coined
  • 1909 Larger Factory opened at West Derby Road, Strips and Girders made in Nickel Steel
  • 1910 Numbered Sets 1-6 Replaces Lettered Sets
  • 1912 Clockwork Motors Introduced
  • 1914 Binns Road Factory Opened
  • 1923 Large Set 7 Introduced
  • 1925 First Electric Motors