A COUNCILLOR has spent a lifetime combining two passions – Meccano and fire engines.
Warwick district councillor George Illingworth was just five-years-old when he discovered a love for Meccano and over the years has recreated over 60 fire engines.
And the retired chartered mechanical engineer from Kenilworth will be showcasing part of his collection for the first time at the upcoming London Model Engineering Exhibition.
He told the Observer: “It was immediately after the war. I used to play with a cousin with pre-war Meccano and my father bought my my first kit on a trip to London.
“Fire engines have been an interest of mine from a little boy. I’d get on my bicycle and ride to the station and hope that they got called out somewhere although their engine was a lot faster than my bike.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with the fire service. I have a lot of respect for the firefighters that risk their lives to protect others.”
The models can take between two months to a year to complete, and are built to a one inch to one foot scale. Each one replicates a particular model of fire engine dating back to the early 1800s when the first municipal fire brigade in the world was established in the UK.
While Meccano appeals to some for its ability to be turned into all manner of creations – some particularly wacky – George prefers to focus on making like for like models with it.
He said: “Some people like to make complicated mechanisms but the fire engines specifically are not complex models. They do have working steering on them but my emphasis is on making realistic, recognisable models.”
George added his favourite truck was the Dennis F12 from the 1950s, popular with fire brigades across the country for its speed.
“It had really big pump escape and big wheels at the back. It was really at the height of technology for its day and a modern looking fire engine. Gentlemen of a certain age will remember those from their childhood.”
The London Model Engineering Exhibition is being held at Alexandra Palace in London from January 17 to 19.