The Meccano Society of Scotland


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Alan Macdonald

(From April 2005 Newsletter - No.67)

I first became aware of the Society when I visited the Model Railway exhibition at George Heriots School in Edinburgh during the festival - can't remember the year. The Society had a stand in the hall to the west of the main building and I remember buying some parts from Dave Stokes and obtained the name and address of the Secretary. I duly joined and was able to obtain the back issues of the Newsletter.

The founding members of the Society were Jim Berrie, Douglas Cooper, Jim Finlayson and Dave Stokes. There were two major catalysts in the formation of the Society:-

Right from the start a newsletter was produced and a series of edited extracts follows.

Newsletter No.- 1 June 1985
Editor Jim Finlayson, Secretary Jim Berrie
The Society was initially known as "The Central Scotland Meccano Society" and issued its first Newsletter in June 1985. In this first edition the opening paragraph states that the Society was formed "just over a year ago" by four interested modellers getting together. The Society attended Minirail at George Heriots school over two weekend shows in July/August 1985. There then followed attendance at other exhibitions which included attending Model Rail '85 at the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow. The Society held its own first exhibition on April 20th 1985 at the Guide Hall, Stirling. Bert Love attended and provided a two page review for the Newsletter. The next meeting was due to be held at Douglas Cooper's house at Doune on Sunday 6th June. The cost of the Newsletter, published four times a year was to be £2.00.

Newsletter No.2 - August 1985
Editor Jim Finlayson, Secretary Jim Berrie.
The meeting at Maureen and Douglas Cooper's house was attended by 15 members. It was suggested that the name of the Society be changed to The Scottish Meccano Society but it was decided to keep the existing name and to publish the Newsletter six times a year. The membership had grown to 30 and there were reports of the various exhibitions attended, together with a four page article by Bert Love on Skegness 1985. The next meeting was scheduled for Sunday 25th August at Jim Berrie's house.

Newsletter No.3 - October 1985
Editor Jim Finlayson, Secretary Jim Berrie.
The meeting at Jim Berrie's was attended by 14 members. The Society attended Minirail '85 held at George Heriots school, Edinburgh over two weekends with Bert Love bringing some of his many models along to the second weekend. Ron Frith from Dunfermline was instrumental in obtaining an invitation to the Glen Pavilion, Dunfermline on the 5th and 6th October. The Society also attended the Falkirk Model Railway Society on 7th and 8th December. The membership was reported to be 39. It was intimated that "A purchaser has taken over Meccano, Calais lock, stock and barrel for £3,000,000"!
Attached to the Newsletter was a letter from Jim Berrie indicating that Jim Finlayson died in the early hours of Monday 23rd September after taking ill during the Society's attendance at the Model Railway exhibition at Ayr. Jim's letter states that "The family wish to donate a trophy in Jim's name to be awarded during the Society's own exhibition" The Christmas party to be held at Jim Berrie's was cancelled and would be held on the first night of the Society's Exhibition in April at the Guide Hall, Stirling. The next meeting is at Douglas Cooper's on 20th October.

Newsletter No.4 - December 1985
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie
The Newsletter reported attendance at various exhibitions and noted that the Society's Exhibition would be held on 19th and 20th April in the Guide Hall, Stirling. A get-together for enthusiasts and friends would be held on the Saturday night at Jim Berrie's.
The final design for the Jim Finlayson Trophy would be decided at the next meeting of the Society on the 15th December at Maureen and Douglas Cooper's house on page 3 and at Jim Berrie's on page 4. (Where actually?).
Jim Berrie was interviewed by Brian Johnston as part of the BBC radio programme "Down Your Way" to be broadcast on December 16th.

Newsletter No.5 - February 1986
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie
It was unanimously agreed at the meeting of 15th December,1985 to change the name of the society to "The Meccano Society of Scotland" as members now came from most parts of Scotland. The meeting also agreed to the final details of the Jim Finlayson Trophy, prompted by a first class drawing by Ron Frith incorporating the initial ideas of Bert Love. The plan will be given to a local cabinet maker who will turn and mould the base incorporating a centre of granite in which the Gear Ring, Part No.180 will be located.
There were the usual reports of exhibitions attended with a note of the appearance in the TV programme "North Tonight" arranged by Derek Strickland, Head of the Maintenance Department at Grampian TV, the day prior to an exhibition in Aberdeen.
The Society's Annual exhibition will take place in the Guide Hall, Stirling on the 19th and 20th April and notice was given of the possibility of a Meccano/Hobbies Exhibition in the Albert Hall, Stirling in 1987.

Newsletter No.6 - April 1986
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie
Notice was given of forthcoming events with full details of the Society's exhibition. A report on the Society's meeting on Sunday 16th February in the Village Hall, Blairlogie was attended by 12 members. The meeting agreed to increase the annual subscription to £4.00 payable in June 1986 and that Angus Annan would take on the job of Treasurer. There was a report on the North East Meccano Society (NEMS) exhibition at Billingham and a General Review of Meccano History by Bert Love.

Newsletter No.7 - June 1986
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie
The last club meeting took place at the home of John Mitchell Newbiggin from Burntisland. There then followed reports on exhibitions attended and items for sale from the Model engineer, Baker Street, Stirling by Dave Stokes, Bert Love, Jim Berrie and Bert Hutchings. Hot from the press was an inspection copy of "The History of the Meccano System" by Bert Love and Jim Gamble. A list of 21 exhibitors and a summary of their models was given. The prizewinners were as follows:
Adult Section Junior Section
1st - Albert Howe - Steam Engine 1st - Christopher Smith - Dockyard crane
2nd Douglas Cooper - Derrick Crane 2nd Andrew Berrie - Tram Car
3rd Jackie Inglis - Traction Engine 3rd Graham Robb - Missile Transporter

The Jim Finlayson Trophy was presented to Jim Berrie for his Irn Bru factory. The Managing Director at Barr's Company and a BBC Producer attended the exhibition. As a result Jim Berrie and family and Douglas Cooper were invited to appear on Scottish Television's Glen Michael Cavalcade with Jim Berrie giving a first class interview of a few minutes duration - excellent publicity for the club - with the broadcast being on Sunday 11th May.
The next Society meeting will be on Sunday 15th June in the Village Hall, Blairlogie. There followed a list of forthcoming events with a note of the Meccano/Hobbies Exhibition, Albert Hall Stirling on 11th and 12th April, 1987.
Congratulations were offered to Bert and Isobel Hutchings on the recent birth of a daughter and best wishes sent to Jackie Inglis who was convalescing after recent hospitalisation. The final item was a two page report on the Stirling Meccano Exhibition, April 1986, by Bert Love.

Newsletter No.8 - August 1986
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie; Treasurer Angus Annan
Reports on exhibitions attended included Models and Hobbies Exhibition, Paisley, Teddy Bears' Picnic at Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway Preservation Society, Aberdeen, Central Region Charities Fete at Stirling, Skegness, Minrail '86, Pipe Band Contest at Stirling.
It was suggested at the club meeting, attended by 14 members on 15th June and held in the village hall, Blairlogie, that a cash sum from funds could be given towards travelling expenses for members who display a model at an exhibition.
A list of forthcoming events was given which included the next meeting on Sunday 7th September at Blairlogie.
Finally congratulations to Dave and Mattie Stokes on their recent marriage.

Newsletter No.9 - October/November 1986
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie; Treasurer Angus Annan
A letter had been received from Mark Rebibo, the owner of Meccano, France promising continued support and development of the Meccano System
At the meeting of 7th September it was decided to help members with petrol expenses for some of the further flung venues.
Reports by Jim Berrie on his trip to London with the Irn Bru Factory and Ladywell Church in Bannockburn.

Newsletter No.10 - January/February 1987
Editors Douglas & Maureen Cooper; Secretary Jim Berrie; Treasurer Angus Annan
Reports from Jim Berrie on his visit to the Earls Court Toy Fair to view the Meccano stand and his talk to the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club.
There were also reports on the North Eastern Meccano Society exhibition at Darlington, the Recreation and Hobbies Exhibition, Glen Pavilion, Dunfermline, and the Falkirk Model Railway Club.
Derek Strickland, Jim Finlayson, and Ian Henwood, all from Aberdeen, put on a display at the Railway station, Aberdeen as part of the Annual Exhibition by the Aberdeen Model Rail Club.
Jim Berrie, Douglas Cooper, and Bert Love have visited the offices of Atlascraft, Nottingham who are the distributors of Meccano in the UK. All the models that were on show at Earls Court were seen on Saturday Superstore on BBC1 Television. A letter had been received from Atlascraft thanking the Society for providing models for the Toy Fair.
It was noted that "Horolene", a watchmaker's cleaning fluid was very effective for cleaning Meccano brassware.
Finally there was a note from Bert Hutchings concerning the share out of a briefcaseful of Meccano from a man who came from Broughty Ferry to the Society's exhibition and went away happy, even making a donation to the funds! Was the man's trip due to Jim Berrie's publicity?

Alan Macdonald