Meccano for the big boys

A giant “Meccano-style” footbridge in Greater Manchester was officially opened today – 6th April 2014, with various activities celebrating the event including an exhibition of models made by the North West Meccano Guild in a nearby marquee .

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The £90,000 steelwork 10:1 scale bridge was designed by artist Liam Curtin who described the project as “the fulfilment of a childhood dream”. The bridge has a span of 6.4m (21ft) and a height of 1.3m (4ft 3in), and it crosses the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal at Nob End in Little Lever, Bolt-on. Sorry – that should be Bolton, of course. But how much more appropriate could you be?

BBC News (Manchester) reported that Mr Curtin and members of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society built the bridge to replace a disused horse bridge – and then added a couple of “Meccano” picnic tables beside it to the same scale.

The Bolton News proudly proclaimed “On Saturday, Mayor of Bolton Guy Harkin will officially open the structure, while ballroom dancers and brass bands will feature at the grand opening of Bolton’s new worldwide tourist attraction!”  (

All this for the opening of a small bridge, at the end of a stony lane, which crosses a dry and derelict canal? Well, that is the nature of Meccano enthusiasts for you. and where else could you get to see steel construction elements that make grown men feel like small boys again? Enthusiasts from across the country, and even from as far away as New Zealand have already visited the new bridge, this writer among them. I wasn’t going to be able to make the official opening, but when I found that I was going to be in Manchester earlier in the week, I just had to make the detour and see it for myself.

It links Little Lever with Moses Gate Country Park and was built by volunteers on the site of an old horse bridge. Artist Liam Curtin, who designed the £90,000 bridge, said it was one of his proudest achievements and that it had won the backing of Meccano fans from around the world. “I knew we could put a bridge in using a crane so I thought ‘we’ll have to build it like Meccano’, but then I thought ‘why don’t we just make it out of Meccano?’ What I’m really pleased with is the volunteers from the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society and members of the public who’ve helped out. We couldn’t have done it on that budget without them. The Meccano fraternity has responded really well to it.”

Well done to them all!


About Philip Webb

Chairman of the International Society of Meccanomen
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