Did you ever go to London’s Science Museum as a child? One of the best bits was being able to turn handles, press buttons and make things happen! Sadly many Meccano shows are characterised by signs saying “Do Not Touch!”, but not at the Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester. This has been the first on my calendar for the last four years, and its organisers, Wendy and Rob Miller, always make sure that there are plenty of hands-on experiences with loads of child-friendly bits to play with.
This year we were housed not in the vast old shed of yore (dark, atmospheric, full of mysterious old machines, and generally Very Cold, but in a brand new wedding reception style marquee which was bright and warm. Thank you! Even on a very wet afternoon in January there were loads of visitors, and the majority of adults brought small children with them. Greg and I spent a happy afternoon curating one of the largest collections of models on show there and introducing them to (among lots of eye candy) cars they could play with, pulley systems they could operate, and a Trebuchet that lobbed plastic balls across the hall. They loved it! We said to one dad about his enthusiastic 3-year old daughter
– “It looks as though she might become a mechanical engineer!” “I certainly hope so!” he replied. “Why – what do you you do?” “I’m a mechanical engineer!”
Who knows what any of them will become – but remember the testimony of so many of us for whom things mechanical became a life-long passion – it began when we were first allowed to push buttons, turn handles, and make things happen all by ourselves.