The Saturday following the August Bank Holiday has been observed for years in the world of Meccano by a pilgrimage of the faithful to Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Coast down Remenham Hill, cross the Thames on the old humped bridge that still bears a sign telling drivers of steam-powered vehicles to take care, see the Town Hall in the distance before you, and sigh.
For decades this was the venue, courtesy of Geoff Wright of MW Models, of the greatest Meccano Show on earth, spread over two days and several floors. Pay your entrance fee, climb the marble stairs to the great hall, and breathe in. The smell of scores of E20R motors in full cry was as evocative as that first smell of the salt air on your annual trip to the seaside. The air was full of the sound of small electric motors, chatting gears and conversation between those for whom Meccano was more than a hobby – it was a way of life. This was our annual convention, a rally for people from all over the country and beyond. It was our chance to show off our latest creations, to meet up with old friends, and to seek that elusive bargain in the glorious jumble sale of parts that took place in the back room of Geoff’s shop.
But all good things must end, and eventually that show finished with Geoff’s retirement – but the tradition lives on. The Henley Society of Meccano Engineers (the first club I ever joined) still stage an annual show on the Saturday of that same weekend, known as “the Gathering”, and hold it now in the splendid surroundings of the United Reformed Church on the Reading Road in Henley. Just one day, now, and not quite the scale of the old days, but still a great display with modellers still travelling from far and wide to take part. Geoff may have retired, but other dealers have taken his place, so bargain-hunting is still an important part of the day’s activities.
And in the midst of it all is the AGM of the International Society of Meccanomen, with yours truly in the chair. this time the members were delighted to welcome our new Editor, Nigel Lynn, who has done great things with our magazine – now in full colour! And a number were very interested to hear of ongoing plans to release the back catalogue of IM’s Model Building Technology tips as a CD program. Take out a sub to ISM and you will get to read about that and more, and to see a full set of photos of the event this year.
In the mean time here are a few more images to whet your appetite!