By Peter Matthews
string of museums that have been created throughout the years had their
beginnings when after collecting a lot of Meccano and Meccano Products my
collector friend said “you have
enough stuff to start a museum” That
was all the encouragement that I needed.
was living in a terraced house in London at the time (1960) and the only space
available was the basement coal cellar which was not being used.
to be deterred, it was cleaned out and painted and made to look as presentable
was the first and the start of a string of Meccano Museums.
moved house in 1967 and although the house was bigger there was still no room
for a museum in the house. The only
option was to erect a building outside, a permanent brick building was out of
the question so a double size garden shed was purchased.
This was equipped with cabinets and electricity.
were in business again only by this time the collection had increased in size.
continued at a fast rate for a further two years, this was before collectors
were really interested in the history of Meccano on such a scale as it is now
and many items could be purchased very cheaply.
this time (1969) my company asked me if I would move to Sussex, (in Southern
England) this was a stroke of luck because the collection was outgrowing its
purchased a new house in Hurstpierpoint in Sussex, and yes you guessed it, there
was no room for a museum, as the
builder was still around he agreed to build an extension to the rear of the
house and add the cost to the bond.
the third museum now had for the first time a purpose brick building all of its
own with a climate conducive to the products in it.
saw another move but this time it was to far distant places, the company asked
me if I would consider a move to South Africa, after some family discussion it
was agreed that we should accept the challenge.
museum was due for another move.
destination in South Africa was Johannesburg.
We built a house in the suburb of Glenanda and at the same time had an
extension built to house the museum (the fourth), and again it was larger.
By this time I had been approached by the local Meccano Agent, “Regal
Trading” and offered the position of Promotions Manager, which of course
included the promotion of Meccano. I
took the position and the Managing Director very kindly suggested that he pay
for the new cabinets required for the museum as the museum was just an empty
space at this point. The cabinets are still being used in today’s museum.
we had been in the new house for a few years and the collection had grown still
further we looked around for a larger house in the same area.
this point you may be thinking what about my wife Anne being moved from place to
place. Well I have been extremely
fortunately in as much as Anne encouraged me to continue.
split level house was found where several areas could be combined into one large
area. In fact two garages, a large
family room and a maid quarters
converted to the museum area. We
moved in 1976.
area also had a study off of it which is used as a den for building and housing
my Meccano collection and the literature.
It was at this point that a local theme park started called “Gold Reef City”
on an old mining town theme.
with a fellow Meccanoman I approached the developers and after much discussion
my partner and I decided to go for it and build a special building to house the
museum, this was to be an enormous air conditioned building.
this we acquired the agency for Meccano Spares.
floor space was 500 sq m, fully carpeted and equipped with aluminium and glass
cases. This was an extremely
popular exhibition. It had three
railway layouts all “Hornby”. Hornby
‘O’ gauge, Hornby Dublo three rail, and Hornby Dublo two rail.
was also an almost complete collection of Matchbox diecasts, Steam engines,
Bayko, Britains soldiers and farm series, Dolls and dollhouses, a wonderful
collection of Dinky toys (1500), some Lionel trains and a shop for gifts and
second hand toys. But like all good
thinks it came to an end.
will not go into the reasons here but it wasn’t because we weren’t making
1989 it was decided to sell the entire contents at Christies in London, and it amounted
to three and a half tons being shipped out.
to three and a half tons being shipped out.
this extremely traumatic experience in 1990 Anne and I decide to start a small
business in 1/12th scale Dollhouse supplies and Miniatures.
still continued with the Meccano Spares agency.
to do now? Since the closing of
“Gold Reef City” I have been collecting just as before and have been very
fortunate to have been able to get together quite a large collection again.
result of this collection you can see in the accompanying photographs.
seventh museum has been set up in exactly the same place that it left in 1986.
The fifth museum did not have a railway layout but this time there are
two, A Hornby Dublo 2 & 3 rail,
an ‘O’ Gauge clockwork and electric so that any item that was made by Hornby
can be run in the museum.
seventh museum will most certainly be the last.
do I keep setting up Meccano Museums wherever I go ?
can only be the love of Meccano Products and the desire to see them displayed in
suitable surroundings. I have never
been a box collector, by this I mean that I try and display everything I have
collected, and not have cupboards full of products that I cannot get the
pleasure of looking at.