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World’s final devoted Meccano manufacturing facility to shut in France | Manufacturing sector

World’s final devoted Meccano manufacturing facility to shut in France | Manufacturing sector

2023-04-09 05:14:39

It’s the kids’s toy, invented in Britain, that impressed a ardour for engineering, science and know-how in generations of kids – and their dad and mom.

Meccano constructing units stuffed with reusable perforated steel – and later plastic – strips, plates, nuts, bolts, winches, wires, wheels and even motors have been used to assemble fashions and mechanical units for greater than 120 years.

Now the final devoted Meccano manufacturing facility on the planet is being closed and dismantled. The Canadian firm that owns Meccano has mentioned the plant at Calais will shut initially of 2024, placing 51 folks out of labor. It blamed the hovering price of uncooked supplies and “an absence of competitiveness” for the closure.

A rare early box of Meccano at auction at Christie’s
A uncommon early field of Meccano at public sale at Christie’s. {Photograph}: /Rex Options

Spin Grasp, which purchased the model in 2013, mentioned Meccano toys would proceed to be produced by its “community of companions in Europe, Asia and Latin America”.

“We now have no different selection than to envisage the tip of business exercise on the Calais manufacturing facility,” Spin Grasp mentioned in a press release, including that the manufacturing facility had “by no means managed to interrupt even” regardless of receiving €7m (£6.1m) in funding since 2014.

Jean-François Sandrass, who has labored on the Calais manufacturing facility for nearly 40 years, mentioned the workers had not anticipated the shutdown. “We have been shocked … some have been even crying. We have been anticipating decreased working hours, however not the closure of the manufacturing facility,” he mentioned.

He mentioned the corporate didn’t seem like in monetary bother. “They’ve advised us for the final two or three years that we have been steadily getting again on observe, and in 2021 we had a constructive yr. And all of the sudden the board says: ‘It’s been 10 years that cash has been injected, and it hasn’t labored’. We’re a part of a serious group that has made huge earnings.”

Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, mentioned Spin Grasp had by no means indicated it had any issues and lamented an absence of transparency. “We don’t know what the group’s actual intentions are; does it need to dump its licence in France and function in Mexico? Or increase one other of its licences elsewhere? If that’s the case, we will’t let that occur,” Bouchart advised Agence France-Presse. “This firm did €55m value of enterprise in France in 2021 and $2bn worldwide. It has the means to finance increased vitality prices … we surprise what are the true motives for this.”

Meccano was invented in Britain in 1898 by Frank Hornby, who marketed it to boys as Mechanics Made Straightforward in 1901 and Meccano in 1907. The phrase Meccano was believed to come back from an amalgam of “make and know”. The corporate operated in Liverpool.

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A worker checking packaging on the Meccano production line.
A employee checking packaging on the Meccano manufacturing line. {Photograph}: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Photographs

Meccano package homeowners may comply with directions to construct a particular system, or use their imaginations to make one thing else. The engineering toys grew to become broadly fashionable – together with Hornby mannequin trains and Dinky vehicles made later by the identical firm – and by the Thirties Meccano had turn into the most important toy producer within the UK. By the Nineteen Twenties Meccano Journal had a month-to-month circulation of 70,000 and Meccano teams had sprung up all over the world. It has been in decline because the Fifties.

The primary French Meccano manufacturing facility opened in Paris in 1921.

Confronted with video video games, Meccano tried to shake off its picture because the toyshop image of a misplaced industrial age by together with radio controls, robotics and different Twenty first-century updates – though its more and more subtle kits, accessible in 80 nations, nonetheless include the identical strips, screws and gap spacing in imperial measures (inches and never centimetres) because the 1901 originals.

In 2009, the Prime Gear presenter James Might and a gaggle of engineering college students used 100,000 items of Meccano to construct a 12 metre (40ft) bridge spanning the canal at Pier Head in Liverpool. In 2015, engineering college students from Queen’s College in Belfast created a 30 metre Meccano footbridge throughout Clarendon Dock.

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