BAYKO and the MECCANO Trade Fairs

You know what it's like when you have a brilliant idea that doesn't work out remotely like you originally envisaged‽ Yes, I know, we all do! Well, this particular web page proved to be exactly such a situation - frustratingly! Let me explain. The main forum for British toy manufacturers [including BAYKO's first manufacturer, Plimpton Engineering] to flaunt their wares to the British [and, of course, potential export] toy retailers and wholesalers was within a subdivision of the British Industries Fair [B.I.F.]…
Brian Salter reminded me that MECCANO Limited had kept a showroom permanently open, in London, at the corner of Bernard Street and Russell Square, not far from London Central Y.M.C.A. where I lived, briefly, in 1967/8 [too late was the cry!]…
Animation showing five of the  references to the MECCANO Trade Fairs
…Mr. MECCANO, in his infinite wisdom, decided, at least briefly, to plough a solitary furrow, and established his own [presumably MECCANO product range only] Trade Fairs, and that is what this page is intended to explore…
…and it's also where the problems alluded to [above] began to emerge.
I've already had several references to MECCANO Trade Fairs, elsewhere on this site for a while, but wanted to pull them together and be more comprehensive than that, so I headed for colleague sites on other MECCANO products, i.e. HORNBY, DINKY, and, of course, MECCANO itself…
TOY TRADER adver from December, 1961, showing the famous Buckingham Palace model
…nada, nichts, niente, nihil, nothing, rien, zero, zilch!
Thus the problems began! So, off to plan B! I made contact with several of the U.K.'s regional MECCANO guilds and clubs, some of which hold promise, and I'm hopeful of gleaning some useful information via that channel. A couple of people pointed me towards N.Z. MECCANO as being the most likely online source - but not for me, at least initially, the N.Z. might as well have stood for Nada Zilch - when I first tried to access their site, it had crashed [it may have been down for routine maintenance, I don't know, but the effect was the same] hence my somewhat jaundiced and frustrated opening to this page!
I'm very happy to admit that I'm more than a bit out of order here - NZ MECCANO is a truly magnificent website, and indeed has since worked absolutely flawlessly, but the above bit really reflects the overwhelming feeling of frustration and helplessness which prevailed, in me, at that time!!!
Page 576 of MECCANO Magazine's  January, 1964 issue, showing the MECCANO Trade Fair advert.
All the references to MECCANO Trade Fairs elsewhere on this site cover a comparatively short period - the early 1960s - which, of course, coincides with MECCANO's [then] new ownership of BAYKO - though it also reflects an era of planned expansion of MECCANO's product range [into plastic, etc.] so may have been indicative of a short-lived flickering of optimism for the company, which TRI-ANG soon snuffed out!!!
I have now, at long last, unearthed a copy of the January, 1964 'MECCANO Magazine', in which the advert [left] appeared on page 576. The actual advert is in the bottom right hand corner of the page, slide your mouse anywhere over the image to see it highlighted. Click anywhere on the image to see a larger version of the advert itself.
Finally, proof that the 1964 MECCANO Trade Fair existed!!!
Just one small caveat I'm afraid. Although all the preparation work for the 1964 MECCANO Trade Fair was done during the period when BAYKO was still a recognised mainstream MECCANO product, the Fair itself took place shortly after the TRI-ANG takeover, and the decision to cease all future BAYKO advertising, so it's perfectly possible that the worlds first, and finest, plastic construction toy was exiled at the last minute.
So, let's backtrack for a moment. As I said, there are references to MECCANO Trade Fairs to be found, six to be precise, elsewhere on the site, there are images [above left and right] all of which mention BAYKO, so let's look at them, in chronological publishing order : -

'Games and Toys' - Dec. 59
"…their trade exhibition at the Grosvenor Hotel…in February."
'Toy Trader' - Jan. 60
"…at the Meccano Trade Exhibition in February."
'Games and Toys' - Mar. 60
"…the first MECCANO Fair."
'Toy Trader' Advert - Dec. 61
"…the Meccano Trade Show at the Grosvenor Hotel, London!”
'MECCANO Magazine' - Mar. 62
"…held at the Grosvenor Hotel."
'Toy Trader' - Apr. 62
"…recent trade fair in London…"

So, to summarise these, the first MECCANO Trade Fair took place from February 19th, 1960 [to ?] at London's Grosvenor Hotel [adjacent to Victoria Station]. They certainly continued in 1962, and, again, in 1964, all at the same venue.
As an interesting [?] aside, as a manager with Kelloggs, over the years I attended a couple of award ceremony dinners in the Grosvenor Hotel - I wonder if that was the self same space in which the MECCANO Trade Fairs took place‽ My memory suggests that what I remember as a subterranean venue was the right sort of size.
PECO advert in MECCANO Magazine, page 162, March, 1960
One area for further investigation that I'm aware of is 'MECCANO Magazine' [though, tempered with the knowledge that it was targeted at children of all ages, not the broader toy trade] - and I have copies of them all throughout the main MECCANO BAYKO era - but I can't find the damned things!!! If anybody out there, clearly more administratively competent than your penitent webmaster, can help push past that particular frontier [Donald Trump wouldn't allow me to say wall!] then I'd be extremely grateful…
Well, I give up! I've now skimmed through the relevant copies of 'MECCANO Magazine' from the period [not all, I should add, just the ones I could find] and I could find no further reference to MECCANO Trade Fairs, beyond the ones already covered, indeed, there didn't seem to be a forum in which such articles would naturally fit.
That alone would be frustrating enough, but the March, 1960 edition of 'MECCANO Magazine' contains an advert for 'RAILWAY MODELLER', [right] promising, albeit in the model railway arena, precisely this service - if only!!!
Let's stand back from the frustration a minute - I apologise for all the escaping steam! What do we actually know?

These MECCANO Trade Fairs certainly took place in 1960, 1962 and 1964, but I know little of 1965 and beyond.
We just can't be absolutely certain about 1961 I'm afraid, it seems possible, but, I suspect, unlikely, given that we know MECCANO attended the B.I.F. that year.
The above information seems to be pointing to an intended 'alternating years' strategy. [I can't help but wonder if this says something about Mr MECCANO's attitude to innovation - given the breadth of his product range, surely there should always have been several things with the wow factor that he wanted to really show off, EVERY YEAR‽ The curse of the bean counters‽]
MECCANO was run separately from TRI-ANG itself, so further separate MECCANO Trade Fairs remain a possibility.
BAYKO models of Buckingham Palace and Montreal's Sun Life Assurance H.Q. Building were built for the 1961 B.I.F. Fair, but may well have been reused in 1962
The venue for the confirmed dates was London's Grosvenor Hotel, near to both Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace - the latter being one of the two MECCANO era BAYKO Supermodels remember.
We could reasonably have expected some form of glossy marketing prospectus or catalogue to have been produced for each Trade Fair - sadly I've no knowledge of any having survived.

As part of several [gratefully received] attempts to help me in my quest for MECCANO Trade Fair information, a number of people have recommended that I investigate two particular publications on MECCANO Limited's history : -

Factory of Dreams
Kenneth D. Brown
Crucible Books
ISBN 978-1-905472-08-6
The MECCANO System
Bert Love & Jim Gamble
New Cavendish Books
ISBN 0-904568-36-9

Much respected [rightly] as these publications are, neither extols the virtues of Trade Fairs in general to any great extent, let alone makes any reference at all to MECCANO Trade Fairs. I'm beginning to think that Sod [as in Sod's Law] was a manic optimist compared with me on this subject!!!
Well, that's it I'm afraid. I find it amazing that a company of MECCANO's standing would have been quite so clandestine in what you would automatically assume to have been a publicity-addicted environment…
…I'm also confused by the unawareness of these Trade Fairs in the wider MECCANO, HORNBY, DINKY and BAYKO communities!
If you've any more information on BAYKO at the MECCANO Trade Fairs, the Fairs themselves, or the prospectus(es) / catalogue(s) printed for any of or all of them, then I really would love to hear from you…
H  E  L  P  ! ! !
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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