Meccano Society of Scotland
(Scottish Traction Engine Exhibition)
Report by Douglas Carson
Once again the Meccano Society of Scotland had been invited to put on a Meccano display at the Scottish Traction Engine Society's annual weekend bash at Balado and your correspondent volunteered to report on our presence for the Newsletter
The morning of Saturday 12th May dawned grey and damp; in a word driech! As I left Glasgow at 08:00 hrs and headed north-east towards Kinross-shire the rain came down in pelters and I began to wonder quite what sort of a weekend we were in for. However by the time I got to the site the weather had returned to just driech and would remain so for the rest of the day. The Balaldo site is on an old RAF base and the former runway provides a firm surface for the heavy traction engines to trundle up and down on without sinking into a quagmire. The ground rises up from the runway and beneath the old control tower I found the marquee that was to house our display. As in previous years, we shared the marquee with Sandy Soutar and his garden railway layout. After setting up my models, I helped Alan Blair to erect the Meccano sign board outside the marquee so that the paying public would know what was inside.
Inside the marquee our members had laid out their displays as follows:
Douglas Carson: Stationary Steam Engine SM11a in Black/Yellow/Silver, Forge Crane, small stationary steam engine, steam car and electric car.
Alan Blair: Marine Engine and South Seeking Chariot. Alan's marine engine had been modified since its last outing by the addition of railings made from bent knitting needles, the creation of which, using a Meccano bending machine, is to be the subject of a future article in the Newsletter.
Ian Soutar: Meccano parts for assembly by visitors, display of recovery vehicles in various colour schemes and a rather nice Marklin set.
Jim Gregory & Angela Goodlet: small models including an open topped double-decker bus and tram, a swing boat and a large rotating display of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) aircraft.
Margaret Tattersfield:: modern Meccano lorries and fork-lift trucks.
Bert Hutchings: Historical display of Meccano colour schemes, crane for the use of children, railway locomotive, tipping lorry and blue/gold railway steam crane.
The site was open to the public from 10:00 and thereafter a small but growing trickle of visitors began to come through the marquee. Initially there was a delay in establishing mains power to the marquee and as all my models are battery operated I was the only one with a working moving display. As ever on these occasions, the usual questions were asked; do they still make Meccano? How much is the set in my loft worth? Did you make that yourself? And how long did it take you to make that? All of which were answered with our usual friendly warmth as though we had never been asked this before. The flow of visitors increased yet further in the afternoon, particularly when a shower of rain passed overhead. Several small boys were taken by Ian Soutar's parts and assembled a variety of models themselves with occasional guidance from members of the Society.
One of the nice things about 'piggy-backing' on someone else's show is the opportunity to see what else is on display. There were steam traction engines, road rollers and lorries in various sizes lined up beside the old runway. From time to time one of these would belch smoke against the leaden skies and move onto the runway to go through its paces. In addition to the steam engines, there were displays of veteran cars and military vehicles, an outdoor steam railway track as well as several owls from a falconry centre. Another feature of these shows is the traders selling everything from beef burgers to automobile junk After about 16:00 the flow of visitors to the marquee began to slow and it became clear that the day was winding down. My rechargeable batteries were still going strong some six hours after starting their day's work which I thought a good performance in the damp and somewhat cool conditions. The day officially closed at 17:00 by which time there were very few visitors left. I could only attend the Saturday of this weekend display, (my place in the marquee being taken by another on Sunday), so I packed my models and returned to Glasgow.
Although numbers may have been down compared to last year due to a combination of the weather and another related event taking place in Edinburgh, I felt it had been a successful day for our Society. A large number of visitors had seen our models and had their questions answered and several youngsters had enjoyed themselves making models. We would find it almost impossible to stage an event ourselves that would attract similar numbers so this sort of show is an invaluable opportunity for us to spread the Meccano word.