BAYKO and the B.I.F.
The British Industries Fair

The British Industries Fair [B.I.F.] was instigated in the early 1920s and, to put it simply, did exactly what it says on the tin…
1949 B.I.F. floor plan showing Berwick's stand
'Toy Trader'
- 1949 show plan - BAYKO stand in red.
…it was a showcase for the whole of U.K. manufacturing, not just the toy trade, to show off their wares to the trade, and usually took place at Olympia, in London, though other venues, such as Castle Bromwich, were used early on. People would attend from all over europe, and perhaps beyond, not just from the U.K.
The exhibition included a substantial section dedicated to toys and games which occupied an entire hall, the Empire Hall, on the 3rd floor.
Before the second world war, the exhibition was held in February each year, after the war the date was moved to May. Particularly for such as the toy industry, this must have resulted in a significant tightening of deadlines in the foreshortened run-up to Christmas.
There is comparatively little specific information available as to exactly what was put on display at any given show, however, it is not difficult to guess as to what was the focus of each year's, display. I wish I could add more detailed BAYKO related information, but at least I've started a record of Plimpton's attendance. My understanding is that, during their BAYKO period, MECCANO did not attend, preferring their own corporate show, annually, in London.
If there are any more B.I.F. attendances, I will complete the BAYKO B.I.F. section [next but one, below] as soon as I am able to finish the research. In the meantime…
Lots and Lots of LOTTS BRICKS - B.I.F., February, 1933
No, this isn't entirely a mental aberration on my part, and I do know it's LOTTS BRICKS not BAYKO. It's in roughly the right place chronologically if not logically! Regardless, when Chas Saunter [whose home in the top left hand corner of the French department of LOT-et-Garonne is just a handful of kilometres from where I actually used to live!] brought this eBay image [below, left], to my attention, I just had to have it, to add it to the site.
LOTTS BRICKS Stand, B.I.F., February 1933
The co-incidences continue, because, when I passed the image to Gary Birch, the erstwhile editor of the BAYKO Collectors Club magazine, 'BAYKO NEWS', he identified our would-be mountaineer as being Arthur LOTT, who, at the time in question, had relatively recently taken over the day to day running of the business which had been founded by his father, Ernest LOTT - i.e. LOTTS BRICKS.
Patented in 1917, production began, in sunny Watford [north of London] in 1918, around world war one's last knockings, though not, as urban myth would have it, in German firm, ANCHOR BLOCKS ex factory.
The image, apparently from  'The TIMES - Weekly Edition' [no, me neither] is printed on newsprint, handicapping the image quality a little. Nevertheless I find it extremely evocative, setting the scene, as it does, for BAYKO's tentative national launch the following year, and appearance at the B.I.F. the year after that.
Artists impression of SHELL-MEX House - now known as the SHELL Building
By Henry Rushbury
Vincent Brooks Day & Son Ltd.
The headline display model is the SHELL Building, [then SHELL-MEX House] the original of which [artist's impression, right, provided by Gary Birch] stands by Waterloo Station, in Watford's southern suburbs! The wide selection of smaller models, in the foreground, is more indicative of LOTTS BRICKS traditional modelling range.
The 'Supermodel' emphasis at major toy trade fairs clearly pre-dated [and perhaps helped drive?] BAYKO's early efforts, and continued, via MECCANO, up to today, in LEGO's excellent, popular offerings. Actually, LEGO really has taken use of such models to a new level.
To return to the LOTTS BRICKS photo for a moment, I think there are a couple of other interesting period details worth noting : -
 
The obligatory[?] hat!
 
 
Cyclist-like, the [near] Argyles, used to control the Oxford Bags!
 
As, finally, another co-incidence, a Durham University friend of mine, Dave Adams, worked in the SHELL Building for several thousand years, until he managed to wangle his early retirement around five years before me, even though we were born within a couple of days of each other! I can only presume Dave wanted to spend more time on his alLOTment - what, jealous - who, me‽
Sometimes the work of the humble archivist and researcher is nothing more than a LOTTery!!!
And that's your LOT!!!

BAYKO's B.I.F. Diary
1935
Plimpton made their debut at the B.I.F., represented by Berwick's Toys, and would have had sets #1 to #5, the conversion sets #1A to 4A and the 3 Ornamental Additions Sets on display. It is pretty certain that this is the fair at which the famous Skyscraper and Model Village models made their appearance. Perhaps Berwick's contacts help secure the write-up which appeared in 'Games and Toys' in April that year…
1936
Berwick's again represented BAYKO and I would assume that the star attraction this year would have been the recently launched “De-Luxe” #6 set.
1937
Berwick's again represented Plimpton at the fair. This time it's not easy to see what the focus of the display would have been, unless they had pre-production samples of the true red and white sets which emerged later in the year.
1938
This was the last time that BAYKO was to be represented by Berwick's Toys. It is likely that this was quite a lively display showing the special 20s series sets and the new parts they introduced. It is also possible that there were pre-production samples of the true red and white sets #6 and #5A available.
1948
Plimpton flew solo for the first time at this fair, almost certainly focusing on the recently extended range, now sets #0 to #3, possibly with the promise of more to come. It was to be another 12 months before the post-war austerity brakes came off.
1949
This is, I think, the most significant post-war moment for Plimpton. Before this there had been no real advertising in 'Games and Toys', 'Toy Trader' or 'MECCANO Magazine'. All three started a run of adverts from this date, clearly synchronised with the B.I.F. date in May.
The display would have included sets #0 to #3, the recently expanded range of new and re-introduced parts and possibly a hint of things to come.
1951
As far as I know this was the last B.I.F. which BAYKO attended for 5 years. The display would have heralded conversion set #3X, launched later the same year, and possibly the set #4 launched early the following year. The display also included the original models of The Block of Flats and The Country Club, featured in the manuals associated with those sets…
1956?
The query over the date comes from the wording of an article in 'British Toys', the September, 1956 issue, which refers to a model of the Empire State Building “shown at the last B.I.F.”, so Plimpton must have attended around this date…
1960s
After the takeover, BAYKO marketing became Mr. MECCANO's responsibility. He decided to 'fly solo' in 1960, 1962 and, very probably, 1964, by holding his own Trade Fairs, with the B.I.F. playing host in the intervening years.
The first two of these Trade Fairs [and probably the third] took place at London's Grosvenor Hotel…

BAYKO at B.I.F. - 1948

BAYKO Price List with B.I.F. 1948 sticker
Advertising leaflet for B.I.F. 1948
Shown courtesy of Peter Crook.
This is definite evidence that BAYKO was on display at the 1948 B.I.F. - on stand N 37 to be precise.
As you can see from the image [left, above] the B.I.F. sticker [right, above] was actually stuck onto a standard parts and sets price list of the day, strongly suggesting that Plimpton were pleased of their association with this prestige event.

There were various published references to BAYKO's attendance at the B.I.F. before the war.
These are all taken from 'Toy Trader': -

Part of the listing of the B.I.F. participants

1935, February - Page 30 - B.I.F. Listing

Berwick & Co.
Stand no. K.7
 
Latest production, the “Bayko” constructional toy, an entirely new idea in constructional toys made of bakelite. Also wooden toys, dolls' houses, dressers, etc., and drapery stores, sewing and work-boxes, dolls' cots and embroidery sets.

1935, February - Page 30 - B.I.F. Preview

Berwick's B.I.F. preview script
BERWICK & CO.
…In view of the number of constructional toys now on the market, one might well imagine that the field was adequately covered. We suggest, however, that in “Bayko,” which is the name of the new line which will be shown on this stand, buyers will appreciate, not only the new features and the attractive appearance of the model, but also the fact that it is the first toy of this kind to be produced from bakelite material.
The “Bayko” Sets were introduced shortly before Christmas and were shown in a few of the larger stores, where they met with an instantaneous success.
Amongst the points which will appeal to the thousands who are the ultimate judges of what is suitable in toys is the hygienic nature of the “Bayko Sets”. They are clean and easy to handle and are quite easily sterilised by placing in boiling water.
The “Bayko Sets” retail from 7s. 6d. up to 30s., and a wonderful variety of realistic models may be constructed. With each set is included a book of instructions, and buyers looking for a really attractive new line should not fail to see this display.
In addition to the “Bayko” Toys, Messrs…

Berwick's B.I.F. review

1935, March - Page 30 - B.I.F. Review

Berwick & Co.
 

The outstanding feature of this display was the “Bayko” constructional toy. As the name indicates, this new arrival on the market is constructed of a bakelite composition. It is almost indestructible, and also is washable - features of great importance to mothers. “Bayko” swept the board when it made its appearance in the last few months of 1934. Now it has been on parade - on a world parade - and the prospects for tremendously increased sales are assured.

 
The review then went on to consider the other products which Berwick & Co. were displaying.

1937, February - Page 70 - B.I.F. Listing

Part of the listing of the B.I.F. participants
Berwick's Toy Co., Ltd.
Stand No. J.1270
 
Manufacturer of “Bayko” constructional toys, drapery stores, sewing boxes.
 
Short and sweet!

Berwick's B.I.F. review

1938, February - Page 70 - B.I.F. Listing

Berwick's Toy Co., Ltd.
Stand No. K.1869
 
“Bayko” constructional toys, sewing boxes and drapery stores.
 
Shorter and sweeter?

1938, February - Page 108 - B.I.F. Preview

Berwick's B.I.F. preview script
BERWICK'S TOY CO., LTD.
 
The well-known and popular constructional toy, “Bayko”, will be prominently featured on Stand No. K1869. Many other lines will also be seen and will include chemical and electrical sets, play suits, pets' stores and toy shops. carded outfits and many kinds of football games will complete an interesting exhibit.

If you've any more info. on BAYKO at the B.I.F., I'd love to hear from you…
 
Below here are links to related info : -
 
Click on any of the links below for related information.
   


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