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Hornby toys honoured with Royal Mail stamp issue

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History of Hornby

Frank Hornby (1863-1936) used to amuse his sons by making a toy crane out of perforated metal strips held together with nuts and bolts. The crane could be dismantled and the parts used to make different models.

Hornby saw a future for this versatile toy and so patented it in 1901 as Mechanics Made Easy – this became known as Meccano in 1907.

After the First World War, German toys had fallen out of favour (unsurprsingly!), so Hornby decided to fill the gap by making clockwork trains.

The first Hornby railway engines were sold in 1920 as construction kits. By 1925, all Hornby trains and accessories were sold ready assembled. These train sets were the ultimate child’s toy and are still very popular today.

Did you know?

  • During the 1920s and 1930s Meccano Ltd was the biggest toy manufacturer in Britain.
  • Sindy was an iconic doll and 150 million were sold worldwide during the 1960s.
  • The Spacehopper was originally blue in colour, and produced in various sizes.
  • Marks & Spencers became a major buyer of Mettoy’s products during the 1930s, and by the late 1950s, Mettoy was exporting to over 100 countries.