If a trip to the Henley show is the last day of Summer, then the run up to the quaintly-named village of Laughton-en-le-Morthern is surely the first day of autumn for Meccano modellers. The stylish residents of Henley-upon-Thames are usually to be found enjoying the delights of their elegant riverside residence if one has time away from “the Gathering” that draws Meccanomen (and women) from near and far.
Laughton-en-le-Morthen is a different experience. Now a small dormitory village lying to the south of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, it was once a stone-built mining hamlet, but now it is a thriving village with modern housing spreading out from the original medieval centre. Its roots are Norman, for this settlement was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, when it boasted a church, castle and a hall. For some of us though it is most importantly the venue for the two meetings a year of the Sheffield Meccano Guild. You won’t see stylish pedestrians strutting the latest fashions here – in fact the pavements usually look pretty deserted when I arrive around 9.15 on a Saturday morning, but even at that hour the village hall car park will be filling up, with Meccano modellers and dealers coming from all over the Midlands and North, and even down from Scotland.
What draws them year after year? A great combination of a good-sized hall with easy parking, great refreshments, excellent models and the promise of a bargain or two from the dealers and a regular club auction. (Few of us actually need any more parts, but you know – a good bargain is hard to resist!) Then there is the challenge of some fiendish construction competitions set by the fervid imagination of Club Secretary and Editor Rob Mitchell. His entiring efforts, coupled with those of the rest of the committee make this something special. Don’t take my word for it – ask the others who pack the hall each time, who order the magazine even when they can never come, or who continue to increase the club’s membership. Yes, even a drive up the M1 can be a thing of beauty when the the road is lined with with autumn gold and Laughton beckons.
There was even an extra pleasure for your writer this year, for every autumn the members vote for what they judge to be the best model on show, and this time (for the third time in nine years) they kindly gave me the award, this time for my Australian Kenworth truck and trailer. Thank you everyone! That was a real bonus on what was another excellent day.