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MBBCs Meccano Bridge

Frank Hornby was born in Liverpool in 1863 and although he had no formal engineering experience he invented Meccano in 1901.  He also developed and manufactured a number of other model kits and toys, including in 1909, the Hornby System of Mechanical Demonstration an educational set, in 1927, clockwork lithographed tinplate O scale trains, in 1934, Dinky Toys, die-cast miniature model cars and trucks, and in 1938, Hornby Dublo model railway system, this was however introduced after his death.  His  legacy lives on today through the international company of Hornby Hobbies.

Many of you will have seen in shop windows and exhibitions the large working models made to demonstrate and promote the Meccano products. 


For comparison of what is to follow:


You might now be asking what has Meccano got to do with the Manchester Bury and Bolton Canal, well here is the answer.

I bet Frank Hornby didn't envisage a bridge like this.

A bridge that looks like it is made from a giant Meccano set was given the go ahead by Bolton Council's planning committee. The designer of the ironwork bridge, public artist Liam Curtin, explained that the main reason for creating a Meccano bridge is so people in the community can help build it too. We have taken a bit of the canal which has been neglected for years and will hopefully create something beautiful for the community.  The Meccano pieces will be 10 times the size of the toy set, and a local steel fabricator will be used to make the beams, nuts and bolts in the same style - but 10 times thicker and 1,000 times heavier.

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society  is carrying out improvements on the Nob End section of the canal and there are plans to turn it into a picnic area, with the bridge as its focal point. Members hope it will be part of their long-term aspirations to create a visitor centre and reopen the waterway.

To quote the Chairman of the society "We began work on preparing the abutments for the new Meccano-style bridge on 20th October 2012. Work proceeded smoothly, clearing the vegetation, and then the brickies came on site to rebuild the south abutment. The scaffolders came on site several times, raising the scaffold in stages. We then dug out inside both abutments and filled in with several tons of cement on each side. Then the brickies continued to build the four wing walls, leaving space to get the bridge in place. The big day was 8th December when we started to build the Meccano bridge itself; it took exactly the four days we had anticipated, but then we had to wait for warmer weather to lower the bridge onto its supports, which happened on 15th December. So the bridge itself is complete. We still have to build the wings walls up to the bridge, to put in setts to form approach paths, and to build and install the picnic tables (also in Meccano-style). The Grand Opening is expected in March – watch out for details!"

Further pictures of the construction can be found } HERE {

All construction photographs are with the kind permission of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canals Society, WEBSITE } HERE {


Meccano Bridge & Picnic Area, Nob End, Little Lever, Bolton