Old Bexley Church of England Primary School Summer Fete 2008

Saturday 12 July 2008
Old Bexley Church of England Primary School
Bexley

At a recent meeting a chance contact was made with a children’s group in an adjacent room at Eltham which resulted in an invitation by the Old Bexley School PTA to display Meccano models at their summer fete. Chris Warrell asked for some volunteers and several members made the commitment. We had been promised space in a marquee with tables and mains power supply.

Come the day confusion reigned! Initially nobody seemed to know who we were, or where we should be. Eventually we were allocated a ‘pitch’ at one end of a small playground. Tables and chairs were duly provided along with an overland power supply from a nearby classroom. With the weather looking very threatening we were concerned that our display could quickly get washed out, so Chris went on the hunt for either a better location or some suitable cover. A small gazebo was ‘borrowed’ from the first-aiders who had yet to arrive. With some re-arrangement we managed to squeeze ourselves and display tables under cover and set about the business of receiving visitors.

Visitors enjoying the exhibition
Visitors enjoying the exhibition

Chris Warrell had brought his working model of a London Tram which he could run back and forth along the front of the display, with his model garden pond, sci-fi Liberator and Enterprise models and a couple of cars. Peter Clay produced a couple of Meccanographs from his holdalls along with a caterpillar tractor and a few other small models. Brian Leach displayed his decimal counting mechanism, vending machine and a crane which he had already built for September 2008 Secretary’s Challenge (using only parts 1–50). I showed my ‘Girderscope’, several static models of cars and aircraft, and a hand operated ratchet mechanism.

Brian Leach and Chris Fry
Brian Leach and Chris Fry
Peter Clay
Peter Clay

The fete was opened by the Mayor who stayed on site for several hours and even found opportunity to meet-and-greet us, showing genuine interest in our models. Despite our location we still attracted a steady flow of interested adults and children with lots of questions. Encouragingly a few of the children kept returning showing real interest in the hobby, and we had plenty of opportunity to promote the forthcoming exhibition — handing out most of the flyers Chris had brought along with promises of a ‘hall packed with Meccano models’ to look forward to. Time will tell whether this will boost attendance.

All-in-all I think the event went well. The rain held off and we were even blessed with a little sunshine later in the day. A few lessons were learned along the way with several models shedding fasteners and small parts under the attention of small hands. Models relying on artificial lighting which are fine indoors can be useless in daylight. The larger the model the more interest — particularly if it works! Any model that the children can operate themselves goes down well. Peter’s Meccanographs proved very popular as did my lever operated ratchet mechanism. Very young children seemed to particularly like my push-along train and tender and several parents had to persuade them to leave it on the table.

Given the opportunity to attend in subsequent years, perhaps with the promise of better facilities, this could prove a very useful promotion for the hobby, the club and our exhibition and I would certainly encourage its future support.

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