Binns Road

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index


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Binns Road factory, publicity image from 1927

Binns Road factory, publicity image from 1927 [image info]

For many people, the name Binns Road was, and still is, synonymous with the products of Frank Hornby's company. The mythological status of Binns Road is helped by the fact that the factory didn't exist before Hornby designed it and had it built, and was demolished a little while after the company was taken over. As a result, Binns Road, constantly name-checked on the back covers of Meccano catalogues and booklets, became a sort of shorthand in customers' minds for a strange magical place where all these products originated.

Meccanoland

Hornby and Meccano Ltd. didn't discourage this mythologising of Binns Road - one can make comparisons with the fictional factory in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", an apparent world to itself, run by a benevolent inventor, churning out goodies for children. Some of the Meccano Ltd. promotional literature would also reference some of their fantasy stories based in dreamland territory of Meccanoland, a fantastical place where Meccano figures worked on Meccano Problems and had Jolly Good Fun. Meccanoland was also an escapist realm where children and their parents could play together, and where you were never too old to play with Meccano, and so people never really got old.

It was difficult to avoid conflating the mythical land of Meccanoland with the Binns Road factory, and many long-time Meccano fans either made the pilgrimage to Binns Road if they were in the area, or wished that they had.

Of course, the reality of working in the Meccano Ltd. factory would have been somewhat more mundane, and employees and locals were probably slightly perplexed by the constant trickle of starry-eyed visitors swooning over what was, in reality, an industrial metal-fabrication plant.

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