Meccano bridge built for James May’s TV series

Student engineers at the University of Liverpool have helped to build a Meccano bridge which James May will walk across on Saturday, 8 August at Liverpool’s Pier head.

The Meccano bridge is part of James May’s new TV series, ‘James May’s Toy Stories’, which makes life-size constructions with some of Britain’s best-loved toys.  Students have been responsible for the construction of the bridge with help from the North East Meccano Guild. 

Dr Tim Short, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Design, said: “We’ve taken inspiration from James May, the design proposal from the architecture students and the design drawings from Atkins, added an enormous amount of Meccano and created a bridge that is unique and impressive. The students have worked incredibly hard over the last 11 weeks, as have the technicians who supported them. We’re really looking forward to seeing the bridge in action on Saturday.”

He added: “It is fitting that Meccano has been brought back to Liverpool as the city was home to Meccano for more than 70 years until the Binns Road ‘Factory of Dreams’ in Wavertree was finally closed in 1979.”

The bridge design was engineered by Hayden Nuttal, Design Director of Atkins Structural Engineering, and will be made out of real, ½” wide Meccano strips, girders and bolts, rather than giant Meccano.  James has chosen to stay faithful to the ‘mechanics’ in Meccano and the bridge will move, with one 9m beam sliding into place like a canal lock gate and the other 12m section rolling down like a drawbridge.

Approximately 100,000 pieces of Meccano, including 28,000 bolts, were used in the construction of the bridge, which took approximately 1,100 man hours to construct.  The bridge is 23m long and weighs approximately half a tonne. If the total length of Meccano used in the bridge was laid end-to-end it would stretch about three-and-a-half miles.

The bridge has been erected outside the Liver Building on the new Leeds-Liverpool canal extension, which runs from Liverpool’s Albert Dock, past the foot of the Liver building to Leeds and the rest of the European canal system. 
Members of the public are invited to watch James May test the bridge which will take place on Saturday, 8 August at approximately 12 noon at the Pier Head, Liverpool.     

James May’s Toy Stories will be broadcast on BBC 2 later this year.

Notes to editors:

1. Members of the media are welcome to attend. The press contact at the event is Abi Brooks at Plum Pictures on 07944 296740.

2.  The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £93 million annually.

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