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Google doodle for Meccano man Frank Hornby

Liverpool's very own model citizen gets 150th 'birthday card' from the net

Published on May 15th 2013.

Google doodle for Meccano man Frank Hornby

A TORY MP for Everton. For Everton? 

Now there's something most people could not possibly get their heads around today. 

Nor the fact that 72 years after the good people of the city voted him in, this most rarified and extinct politicial beast would be celebrated by a Google doodle. 

And despite the fact that no fanfare has blazed here today on his 150th birthday, Liverpool has a lot to thank that Conservative MP for Everton for. His name: Frank Hornby.

Born on May 15, 1863, at 77 Copperas Hill, Liverpool, Frank Hornby was much more than a politician. He was a model citizen in every way.

Frank HornbyFrank Hornby: Buried in Maghull He invented Hornby model railwaysMeccano and Dinky Toys - and all of it without any training as an engineer or craftsman. 

After he registered the name Meccano in 1907, the brand grew and provided employment for thousands of Liverpool people for several generations. The kits made at the Binns Road plant were exported all over the world.

It made Hornby a millionaire and he was elected into Parliament in 1931.

Today the internet's biggest search engine is honouring Hornby with its own birthday card. 

Yet all is not lost locally. While the significant anniversary may have largely escaped the burghers of city of his birth, up in Maghull, where Hornby latterly lived and is buried, celebrations are alive and kicking.


This week sees more than a dozen birthday events: a display by Maghull Art Group, of Hornby related paintings, fairs, heritage walks, special Victorian-themed evenings and music hall events to commemorate the Meccano man. There is even a Frank Hornby challenge badge for schools.

It's all organised by St Andrews Church where Hornby is buried in the graveyard. 

Today's Google doodle features trains, tracks and other model railway bits and pieces. Modern technology's nod to the genius who started making toys for his children in 1899.

Hornby, who worked for a meat importer, would cut out pieces of metal to construct bridges and buildings. One day he realised that if he made interchangeable components, they could be used to make a variety of objects. His employer became his business partner and the ultimate toy story was born.

It made Hornby al millionaire and he was elected to parliament in 1931, later developing Dinky cars and railway sets which have become some of the most prized collectors' toys in the world.

Hornby died in 1936, two years before his company began selling Hornby Dublo model railways. 

*Maghull Hornby Festival, May 15-May 19. Full diary of events here and Facebook page here.

*Maghull Art Group Frank Hornby Exhibition, Deyes Lane High School, Fri/Sat May 18/19

Hornby houses and a blue plaque

Frank Hornby's House
Frank Hornby lived in Maghull at 'The Hollies' on Station Road, which was the first building outside London to be awarded a blue plaque. 

He and his family then moved to a much larger house in Maghull, known as 'Quarry Brook' whichwas his last residence befhe died in 1936 and is now the Convent of Mercy in Hall Lane. This building now forms part of Maricourt High School.

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