BAYKO in 'Best of British' Magazine
December 2019

The 'Best of British' magazine is a glossy, monthly, coffee table publication which carried articles on a wide range of subjects, both past and present, which would hopefully resonate with the British public…
…so naturally they couldn't help but include another article involving BAYKO!!!
This particular article appeared towards the rear of the December, 2019 issue of the 'Best of British' magazine. The magazine also came with a free, historic toy themed calendar - which is, sadly, BAYKO-free.
In this case the article highlights BAYKO, but also talks about building toys in general.
The article, together with the other construction toy references, comprises two full pages, uniquely printed with red borders, and was written by Glenys Adams. It is well illustrated with four different images, all BAYKO-related. Based largely on personal memories, it is a good read, though with one or two factual issues.
There are two other 'Best of British' articles which reference the world's first and finest plastic construction toy…

Page 54 of the December 2019 issue od Best of British magazine
Page 55 of the December 2019 issue od Best of British magazine
Page 54
Page 55

The captions [below] where they exist, are quoted directly from the article, the full text of which reads as follows : -
BUILD IT WITH BAYKO
Glenys Adams remembers constructive childhood days.
Visiting a museum recently, I looked at an exhibit, an area set up like an ordinary room, and wondered why it was on display? Brown wooded mantlepiece with beige tiles, a brass fender, and a practical three-piece suite in tough rust-coloured fabric. A gate leg table laid for tea. Toys on a multi-coloured rug.
House model from the December, 2019 issue of Best of British Magazine
Then I realised that this was a room from my childhood, a room when the Queen had only just begun her reign. At long last, my past had become an historical exhibit.
What of the toys? Along with the jigsaw and the rag doll, a fine red-and-white house, half-built on steel pins, and a green base, took me back to my childhood. This was Bayko, which few of my friends seem to have heard of. Our cherished Bayko set was passed on by our neighbour 60 years ago, when he had outgrown it. It was still in its dark blue cardboard box.
We young Architects, my sister and I, had a choice of red or white brick effect tiles, flat or bowed windows and a choice of roof styles and sizes. Chimneys and doors, pillars and porticos, all supported by little steel rods of various lengths led to endless variations. The detailed building instructions were largely ignore.
On closer inspection of the red boxes and dog-eared booklets, I see that we have a combination of components from Sets 1,2 and 3, stored in a box labelled 2x Conversion Set. These were produced between 1946 and 1848, as Britain began to wake from years of rationing and could turn away from war-related production to the manufacture of goods for the home, and toys.
Over recent years, the Bayko set has mainly sat undisturbed in a cupboard, bit its occasional outings have seen young and not so young nephews create their dream home, or at least a recognisable des res in red, white and green.
Primary school children and their parents have looked in wonder at this beloved relic, from long before the digital age. (Batteries not included. Tools required: fingers as well as thumbs).
Model display from the December, 2019 issue of Best of British magazine
A Bayko house and garden, complimented by Dinky cars, pavements and post box.
Originally called Bayko Light Construction Sets, there name is taken from Bakelite, a sturdy, early synthetic plastic developed by Leo Baekeland in New York and patented in 1909. Its heat resistant properties and electrical non-conductivity made it an ideal material for use in many products. In our homes it was most familiar to me for its use in electrical plugs, telephone castings and kitchen utensils. I can still remember the acrid smell when a pan handle got too close to the gas flame.
Bayko was the invention of engineer Charles Plimpton who patented it in 1933. By 1938 he had named it Bayko Building Sets. Theses were produced on a small scale by Plimpton Engineering, a company set up in the heart of the commercial docklands of Liverpool, across the river from where we grew up un the Wirral.
"This much loved Bayko set will never run out of batteries or need a broadband connection."
Originally created in creams and browns, following a break in production over the war years, by 1947 the red, white and green pieces became the standard.

Display of BAYKO parts
All the parts you could need.

Various sized sets were produced, and could cost up to 30s, which would have been a big chunk out of a postwar wage. Sets of additional components were also available, hence our box, with its very utilitarian label. Not for us the bright image of a completed house almost as big as the boy and girl creating it, as shown on other boxes and posters of the era.
I was particularly fascinated by the corner tiles which have a slot to cover the edge of the adjoining tile. Each regular tile measures ¾ins square, with half tiles to fit over the green windows and doors. The rods, in lengths up to five tiles high, attach the tiles to the 5 x 3½ins green bases which can be joined with small brackets and screws using the tiny screwdrivers.
After the death of Charles Plimpton, his widow Audrey continued the business but, in 1959, production passed to Meccano through which Bayko had been marketed for many years. Production was to continue with numerous modifications and colour changes until 1967, but the red, white and green remains the recognisable colour scheme.
By this time my sister and I were more interested in other things that Liverpool produced: the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers to name but two, but the blue box stayed tucked away in the family home, and many decades later I am its careful creator.
What will happen to this much loved Bayko set? Well, it will never run out of batteries or need a broadband connection. Its source of power will continue to be the imagination of young architects as they carefully unpack the tiles and rods, the connectors and screwdrivers, the doors and windows and the decorative features. A new building will rise on the scaffolding of steel rods, to be topped off by one of the beautifully modelled, red tiled roofs.
What of the future? Will present day toys stand the test of time? Will the multitude of digital gizmos be treasured and still useable 60 years from now? Maybe future generations will drool over them on the Antiques Roadshow?
 
Glenys's article then concluded [below] with a brief summary of some of BAYKO's contemporaries/rivals, which was, somewhat incongruously, headed by a photo [below, right] of BAYKO's inventor, Charles Bird Plimpton!
REMEMBER THESE? - SOME OTHER BUILDING TOYS

Black and white photo of BAYKO inventor C.B. Plimpton
Bayko inventor Charles Plimpton in relaxed mode.

LOTTS BRICKS: With German toys like Anchor Bricks banned, EA Lott devised their own brick in 1918. Lott's Bricks also had a cardboard roof, and, of course, instructions. Queen Mary bought a set at a British Industries Fair in 1918. The sets included Modern and Tudor. They were the last bricks made of composition, and were superseded by Minibrix, Bayko and Logo, ceasing production in the 1960s.
BRICKPLAYER: Spear's Brickplayer lasted from 1938 to the 1960s. Miniature bricks were cemented together using a water-based cement which could be soaked off for rebuilding.
KIDDICRAFT SELF-LOCKING BUILDING BRICK: Kiddicraft was an early Lego-like system od plastic bricks designed by Harry Page around 1945. Locked by studs, they has slots for windows and doors and were marketed from 1947. Lego's inventors definitely knew of (perhaps copied) this brick and though they later bought the rights to Kiddicraft, they apparently paid a sum in compensation when their version took off.
MINIBRIX: Minibrix were made by the Premo Rubber Company from 1935 - 1976. Not unlike Kiddicraft, Minibrix were interlocking rubber bricks (which tended to harden and shrink) with moulded studs in brown, white, and multicoloured. The cardboard roofs were green, and the windows were celluloid. Later sets had a rubber building base also of rubber. Special Tudor sets even offered tiles.
Well, as they say, "that's your lot!" Despite minor criticisms, it's nice to see the world's first, and finest, plastic construction toy still up there.
 
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