How I started to mount Meccano Exhibitions in the late 1960s

As a lad before WW11 I was a very keen Meccano boy and amassed quite a large collection before wartime shortages caused Meccano to become unobtainable.  As I lived on a farm in the country I was sent to Melbourne in 1943 to continue my education and, of course, I ceased to use my Meccano.  Fortunately my parents just put it away and it remained with my parents until I took it to my own house in South Blackburn about 1965 as I thought my son might be interested.
He was not very interested but I was promptly re-infected with the “bug” and set about enlarging my collection.  In those days Meccano was not popular with the “modern child” and could be bought second hand very cheaply.  I ran a permanent “Wanted” advertisement in appropriate newspapers and these turned up lots of nice stuff which was added to my collection and kept in my Garage, which was specially built to house it.

 The Garage was fitted with 4 Windows, fully lined and had vinyl on the floor; needless to say the car never got to live in it.  I probably went a bit overboard in my collecting activities but enjoyed having such a large collection of parts and was able to build (and leave built up) the big and complex models that lack of parts (and no doubt skill) prevented my building as a boy.

Over time I converted two large wooden Drawing Office Plan Cabinets into fully compartmented drawers, one for each Meccano part and these made the storage of my “Meccano set” both simple and tidy and was well worth the effort involved.

Early in 1968 a reporter from the Nunawading Gazette, our local paper, heard that I had a garage full of Meccano and asked if he could come and interview me. Naturally I agreed and his visit, with a photographer, resulted in my photograph operating a Meccano Supermodel Level Luffing Crane (SML 37) appearing on the front page of the Gazette.

The publication of this photo resulted in my being invited to put on a display of Meccano Models at a forthcoming Hobbies Exhibition being held in a Car Showrooms in Whitehorse Road, Nunawading in September 1968.  I was happy to oblige and, with the help of two of my Meccano Modelling friends, Wal Maynard and David Sommerville, who loaned me a few models, we put on a very nice display for the two days of the exhibition.  As contemporary children (and to a lesser extent adults) were not used to seeing Exhibitions of large Meccano Models, it was very successful and created much interest.

Participation in this show resulted in invitations to mount some Exhibitions of Meccano Models at local School Fetes around the North East Suburbs which I quite enjoyed.  These activities also resulted in an invitation to exhibit at the Try Boys Society Monster Hobbies Exhibition held in a large Hall complex in South Yarra over the 3 day Queens Birthday Long weekend in June 1970.

This was one of the largest exhibitions I mounted, it included models loaned by both Wal Maynard and Keith Nicholls as well as all my own.  It was a lot of work but I thought well worth it and it was a great success.  Unfortunately, in those days I was not into colour photography so these images are all in black and white although there are some colour images of my models and exhibitions elsewhere on my Website.

I continued to mount these Exhibitions from time to time until I ceased my Meccano activities in 1980/81.  To the best of my belief there had not been a significant showing of Meccano Models for many years until I exhibited at Nunawading in 1968 and think that I may claim, with some justification, that my actions caused others to start to hold such exhibitions in more recent years.


More of my models and exhibitions from the 1970s

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