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Meccano Show 2012

"The Best One Ever!"

Report by Chris Warrell

Our Meccano Show on 13th October was, arguably, the best one ever! It's always a good sign when you're told that there's a queue waiting to come in at least ten minutes before we were due to open: some pensioners had been waiting so long they were allowed to come into the entrance lobby and sit down.

Helped no doubt by our various promotions throughout the year — displays in Thamesmead, Chatham and Woolwich, as well as the Eltham Centre — we had 478 visitors; more than double the previous year and only bettered by our 1984 exhibition when we managed 523! I think we can confidently say that the visitor to our 2012 Show got far more to look at than the one 28 years earlier: models in three halls/rooms rather than one, and the MeccanOlympics events. The numbers were made up by 200 adults, 122 seniors, 14 unaccompanied children and 142 accompanied children. There may well have been more accompanied children than we gave out tickets for, so the overall total could well be over 500. There was a real buzz all day with visitors still arriving quite late into the afternoon.

Ivor Perrett demonstrates his loom
Ivor Perrett demonstrates his loom

Brian Leach's automatic gantry crane towers above the other models
Brian Leach's automatic gantry crane towers above the other models

Once again I produced a floor plan which, apart from a bit of tweaking here and there, worked pretty well in organising the troops. Most of the exhibitors were located in the Sherard Hall with three in the Penford Room and the refreshments and another four in the Dobell Room with the MeccanOlympics.

MeccanOlympics Eltham 2012

» Watch videos of the MeccanoOlympics

2012 was, of course, the year of the MeccanOlympics — four events spread throughout the day. I was hoping that we'd get some entries from outside the club: there'd been a few enquiries from some well known Meccanomen and other individuals and a local school who were going to enter a team, but, in the end, all the entries came from within the club. It still proved to be very popular with the public with spectators three or four deep on each side of the barrier (marking out the area of play) during each race. Staging the event in the Dobell Room worked well: for a start, it got people in the end room which, last year, looked a bit empty at times.

First up was the Walking Race which attracted only three entries. The winning model came from Brian Elvidge and was the only one to make it all the way across the floor, albeit with the help of some stabilising wheels. Second and third places were taken by Chris Warrell and Brian Leach.

Brian Leach's model tries to do battle with Alan Wenbourne's Goliath like monster

Brian Leach's model tries to do battle
with Alan Wenbourne's Goliath like monster

The Push-of-War had six models doing battle in a series of head-to-head heats. All had elected to use the No. 1 clockwork motor as the power source, suitably geared down, although electric motors were permitted. Each model played against each other in five bouts, so that there were 15 in total. Points were allocated with 3 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for the loser. Alan Wenbourne was the clear winner, beating every other model gaining a total of 15 points. Chris Fry was second with 12 and Ralph Laughton third with 9 points. Alan's model was very heavy and had two plastic men apparently pusing the edifice along. Other entries were from Chris Warrell (4th place), Brian Leach and Les Chatfield (joint 5th). Les provided much amusement by sending his machine backwards by mistake during one race.

In the Ping Pong Put there were only three entries. The rules were a bit vague in that the targets would be positioned between 10 and 16 feet from the start but without giving any specific details about target size etc. That may explain the low turnout. On the day no one had given this much thought but a hastily procured plastic bowl was pressed into use.

First to go was Chris Fry who scored a direct hit with his first ball! The other five just missed. Chris Warrell was next and got one ball in the bowl but it bounced out. Brian Leach managed to get two on the rim of the bowl. Chris Fry was the winner with second and third places decided by popular vote which went in favour of Brian.

Adrian Ashford, Chris Fry and Chris Warrell each hope that their model will reach the end without spinning out of control

Adrian Ashford, Chris Fry and Chris Warrell
each hope that their model will reach the end
without spinning out of control

The final race of the day was the Magic Motor Race. This was certainly the most popular with 11 entrants. It was, arguably, the most exciting for the spectators. The large number of models necessitated the running of four heats with the winners going into the semi-finals. The contestants were Brian Elvidge, John Gay, Brian Leach, Adrian Ashford, Chris Fry, Chris Warrell, Les Chatfield, Ralph Laughton, Alan Wenbourne, Stuart Jones and Douglas Windibank. The winners of the four heats were John Gay, Adrian Ashford, Alan Wenbourne and Douglas Windibank. In all of the races at least one of the vehicles either spun off the track, drifted off line or was aimed in the wrong direction and hit one of the many children’s legs protruding onto the course. Taking gold was Alan Wenbourne with John Gay gaining silver and Douglas Windibank picking up the bronze.

Thus, the medal table looked like this at the end of the day:

  Name Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Alan Wenbourne 2 0 0 2
2 Chris Fry 1 1 0 2
3 Brian Elvidge 1 0 0 1
4 Brian Leach 0 1 1 2
4 Chris Warrell 0 1 1 2
6 John Gay 0 1 0 1
7 Ralph Laughton 0 0 1 1
7 Douglas Windibank 0 0 1 1

The medals were presented after each event by Frank Paine, although Chris Warrell deputised in one event — one in which he didn't win a medal himself, luckily! The medals were a 57-tooth Gearwheel (gold), a zinc 6-hole Wheel Disc (silver) and a brass 8-hole Wheel Disc (bronze), each attached to a purple ribbon printed with the MeccanOlympics logo.

Walking Race - Chris Warrell (S), Brian Elvidge (G), Brian Leach (B)
Walking Race winners
Chris Warrell (S), Brian Elvidge (G), Brian Leach (B)

Push-of-War - Chris Fry (S), Alan Wenbourne (G), Ralph Laughton (B)
Push-of-War winners
Chris Fry (S), Alan Wenbourne (G), Ralph Laughton (B)

Ping Pong Put - Brian Leach (S), Chris Fry (G), Chris Warrell (B)
Ping Pong Put winners
Brian Leach (S), Chris Fry (G), Chris Warrell (B)

Magic Motor Race - John Gay (S), Alan Wenbourne (G), Douglas Windibank (B)
Magic Motor Race winners
John Gay (S), Alan Wenbourne (G), Douglas Windibank (B)

Reports from exhibitors were that the whole day was very enjoyable and there was quite an atmosphere in the three rooms. The only complaint was that it was so busy that many of them had no time to look around!

Despite the huge crowds, there were no new members joining on the day, although plenty of forms were taken.

A 13 year old girl, who came with her granddad, seemed quite interested in joining! We'll have to wait and see whether she turns up at a meeting.

Publicity

We had a whole page article/plug promoting the show in the local free SEnine magazine and a nearly half page report afterwards. Their editor came to take some photos during the day.

The report of our Show as featured in November 2012's SEnine magazine
The report of our Show as featured in November 2012's SEnine magazine

Thanks

Thanks, of course, to the members who helped out on the day, or in advance of the event. Special thanks must go to Peter Clay for organising the rotas and making sure that the front of house was fully staffed. Thanks to Frank Paine for preparing a lot of the food and looking after the raffle. Thanks also to Tim Surtell for arranging the Eltham Centre Display and handing out stacks of flyers at various events.

Extra special thanks to Cathy Warrell and Cath Claydon who managed to sell every single sandwich, cake, biscuit, crisp and cup of tea during the six hours we were open. The last item was sold just as we closed at 4:30!

Cathy Warrell invites offers for the very last cake!
Cathy Warrell invites offers for the very last cake!

» This article appeared in the January 2013 issue of SELMEC News.

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