All began in 1898 in Liverpool, in a little workshop where Frank HORNBY invented for his children the very first pieces of the bolts and nuts system that has made today the international brand awareness of MECCANO.
Frank HORNBY patented his nuts and bolts assembling system and marketed his first set under the name « Mechanics Made Easy ». The name “Meccano” made its appearance in 1907.
The first MECCANO plant opened in Liverpool in 1907. It was to be replaced rapidly by the factories located in West Derby Road and then in Binns Road. That enabled a higher production capacity to meet the growing demand.
Based upon its worldwide success, MECCANO launched 2 new production sites: in Berlin, in cooperation with MARKLIN in 1912, and in Belleville (France) in 1920.
Face to the growing sales in France and its colonies, the Belleville production unit could no longer meet the demand. Therefore, in 1930, a larger factory was built in Bobigny, outside Paris, similar to the mother-plant in Liverpool. This Bobigny-based factory managed to produce in 1951 more than 500,000 MECCANO sets despite steel shortages.
A new factory was built in Calais in 1959 and is still today the sole production center for MECCANO sets worldwide.
From the hands of the Lines Brothers, who had acquired it in the 50’s, the French subsidiary MECCANO SA went on to join the French company MIRO (maker of board games) to form MIRO-MECCANO.
In the late 70’s, MECCANO was taken over by the American packaged goods company GENERAL MILLS, which then acquired the English branch of the company in 1981. This purchase marked the final relocation of English production of MECCANO to the factory in Calais, which became the only site worldwide for production of MECCANO.
However, MECCANO was not a priority. No attempt was made to market the product and sales fell tremendeously down in the competitive construction toy market.
In 1985, GENERAL MILLS sold MECCANO. Development of a plastic mold injection system to complement the production of metal parts.
In 1999, the MECCANO Group set up a policy of reorganization of the MECCANO brand, based upon two generic construction systems (plastic and metal).
Each system covers product lines which meet the expectations of children aged from 4 to 15 years old.
MECCANO is still now launching lot of new products and lines every years.
If the dimensions of the strips and the shape of the holes have not changed, MECCANO has managed to keep its products developing a century long in order to continually meet children’s expectations.