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Greenwich Great Get Togethers 2010

Following on from last year's successful Great Get Togethers, organised by Greenwich Council, we were invited to come back again this year to fly the flag for the Meccano hobby and SELMEC at more of the popular events — laid on free for the public. The General Election meant that the organisers were not able to give us much forewarning of the details, or even whether we would be able to participate in all the events. As it turned out we did have a stand at all three Great Get Togethers. Hopefully, we'll be invited back next year.

Each Great Get Together has various community groups attending, the Council's departments have a presence, and free drinks were available from the Council in the Talk Café where you can ask your councillors questions or, at least, send them a question. There was also a main stage with music of various types and an arena for big demonstrations.

Eltham and Kidbrooke

Report by Chris Warrell

That's when the summer was – the marquee kept us out of the scorching sun

That's when the summer was –
the marquee kept us out of the scorching sun

The first of the Great Get Togethers took place at the Samuel Montague Centre and playing fields in Kidbrooke on Sunday 13th June. There was some confusion about which entrance to use, most of us being redirected to an entrance in a side street. We were located at one end of a large rectangular marquee and seven tables were already laid out for us. We soon discovered that the four-gang socket provided was dead despite the sparks' claim that they'd tested it all the night before. Several attempts later, and much shrugging and puzzled looks from them, and they decided to run the socket from a different source which provided uninterrupted power all day.

There were six members present: Peter Clay had two Meccanographs; Brian Elvidge had a fairground ride, gas engine and robots amongst others; Brain Leach gave his fruit machine another outing; Chris Warrell showed his tramcar, blue/gold ships and drum kit; Doug Windibank brought a suitcase full of small models to fill a whole table while Tim Surtell brought his laptop so that visitors could look at the website. He also brought a new club banner which was attached to the valance of the marquee.

By early afternoon things were getting pretty busy with plenty of visitors and all of our flyers were handed out. Earlier we'd had a number of stall holders involved with various children's groups come over and they seemed interested in turning up to our Show in October. Whether they bring all their little ones remains to be seen.

Woolwich

Report by Chris Fry

This event was at the Woolwich Barracks on Saturday 26th June. Arriving on site early we were able to drive right up to the marquee space we had been allocated, provided we moved cars off-site before the public were admitted. A power supply had been provided but we were sharing this with several power hungry food stalls with their electric woks and other such devices. After some negotiation with the organisers an electrician was able to arrange us a reliable supply adequate for our limited needs. Again, the lovely new banner was proudly displayed over the marquee entrance.

That's when the summer was – the marquee kept us out of the scorching sun

Two boys ignoring their father's
warning not to play with guns!

Participating members were Frank Paine, Chris Warrell, Brian Leach and Chris Fry. Frank had brought a wide range of models and items of historical interest. Chris Warrell displayed his small circular train set and several nautically themed models recently seen at a SELMEC meeting. Brian gave the penultimate outing to his amazing fruit machine and a demonstration 3-speed and reverse gate-change gearbox. Chris Fry brought along his usual stock selection of small display models and mechanisms.

What a wonderful day for the public! It was a hot, dry and sunny and many thousands of people were in attendance — possibly boosted by the arrival of a Red Devil parachute team by Chinook helicopter which landed in an adjacent playing field in advance of their later display. There were also other military displays of horse drawn gun-carriages and the like though we were far too busy to spend much time looking at these.

A steady stream of people filtered through our Meccano haven and it was gratifying how many youngsters were fascinated with the models on display. A surprising number acknowledged having small kits at home and were encouraged to start building their collections. A small number of interested parents also made enquiries about SELMEC membership for their children. It will be interesting to see whether we pick up any new members as a direct result of the event. We also had no difficulty in distributing flyers for the October Show and even had to start being a little choosy who we passed them onto as supplies ran short.

Personally, I thought it was a great event, but confess to feeling relieved when 4:00pm arrived and people started leaving. The combined heat and attending to all the visitors to our display was quite tiring and I had developed a nagging headache. However it was a thoroughly worthwhile outing and I would recommend other club members to get involved if further opportunities are offered next year.

Charlton

Report by Peter Clay

A boy examines the intricate workings of Peter Clay's Meccanograph

A boy examines the intricate workings
of Peter Clay's Meccanograph

Just three members attended this event at Charlton House on 10th July: Tim Surtell, Brian Leach and Peter Clay. When I arrived, and had recovered from the walk from the bus stop, I found Tim been there since 9:00am and had set up and covered the tables already. The event went well, in swelteringly hot weather, the shade of the marquee being a relief from the open air. As ever with these events much interest and enjoyment was derived from our stand by toddlers, children, parents and grandparents. Many expressed an interest in our forthcoming show. The group next to us represented a toy library — not a single toy was in evidence! Maybe this helped draw attention to our exhibits which, if not toys, had enough movement and appeal to attract many back several times during the day.

The models were as follows: Brian brought a dragon! More precisely, its head and neck, based on a model in Constructor Quarterly but much enlarged. When viewed at a distance through one eye, moving from side to side, the face and eyes appeared to be following you. The illusion was very effective — so much so that whenever I looked up from my Meccanograph I could see a line of spectators craning their necks, all with one eye covered, shuffling from side to side! He also had two interesting drive mechanisms: A three-speed and reverse gearbox with H gate change, and a variable drive unit. Tim had his laptop continuously playing his DVD of last year's October exhibition. With the posters and hand outs (which he designed) they were good publicity for this year's show. He also had his teacher/strongman animated figures. Peter brought his "Spiralograph" Meccanograph which produced spiral designs, many taken as souvenirs. He also displayed a woodpecker, two Calais motorbikes (one from the new Editions range), chess set (minus a rook thought to be left in the grass at the last Great Get Together, and making its last appearance!), simplicity sports car and three small and one large of the robots from the robot-in-a-tin sets.

Brian Leach and Peter Clay man the stand at Charlton
Brian Leach and Peter Clay man the stand at Charlton

To sum up: As always, a good time had by all on both sides of the tables at all three Great Get Togethers. We hope these events will be annual — they are an excellent way of making our club, clearly now "on the map", still better known.

» This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of SELMEC News.

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