Ferris wheel
Dealer display Ferris wheel.
Sue looks on
Sue looks on as we discuss 1929 steam engines.
Adrian Ashford's ball lifter.



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30th August 2008
The Henley Gathering…

Owen Roberts with his display of old steam engines and acessories. Our two are sitting bottom, right.

A trip to Henley is a daunting prospect for a South East Londoner, born and bred. Not only does this mean emulating the arduous and sometimes dangerous trek made by those early American settlers heading into Indian territory (Way out West), the journey also entailed crossing ‘The river’ - a South Londoner North of the river, not something to taken lightly …

We were off to Henley for the first time in over 20 years, Last time we were there The Gathering was held in the Town Hall and we went to Geoff Wright’s MW models for parts! This time we had a reason for going, over and above the lure of Meccano models and traders selling pieces of metal and plastic with 11/64 inch holes in it. We were off to meet Owen Roberts to participate in the first meeting of the unofficial 1929 society. No not a secret organisation with weird rituals, just a bunch of people determined to burn their fingers.

We packed Sue’s Swedish reconstituted fridge estate with Two of the 1929s and the snappy-happy DSLR camera gear, pointed West and set off with ‘Jane’ giving directions she got from her two friends; Tom and Tom. A surprisingly easy journey got us to Henley in good time. As we walked in, there we were presented with Owen’s super display of both original and replica Steam engines the focus being on the 1929 models (…Did I not mention they were steam engines?).

After introducing ourselves, we added our two engines to the display and went off to say hello to a few people. Sue soon got restless and was off looking for something to shoot, photographically speaking that is! The first person we bumped into was Nick Rodgers of the Runnymede Meccano Guild. We stood there chatting for a few minutes (More like half an hour - Sue.) and proceeded to examine the underside of Nick’s superb Foden petrol tanker.

A whiz around the displays revealed lots to see and many familiar faces to stop and chat with. A rummage around the trade stands resulting is some more of my ‘hard-earned’  making its way back East to Essex.

Steam’s up!

1929 engine in steam
Full steam ahead! one of my engines in full flight - look at the flywheel. The camera has frozen the gearwheel as it is revolving much slower.

Making our way back to Owen’s display found him outside, set up on top of the Bar-B-Q preparing to steam one of his 1929s. Well, that was it we all had to get in on the act. The weather was making it a really nice sunny day. The only trouble was we could not see whether the burner was alight or not. Holding a hand over the burner soon resolved the problem!

We were soon joined by Geoff Brown, who had driven down from Lincolnshire to join the party. He brought his 1929 engine and we soon had it in steam. My two engines were another story. The scruffier of the two is earmarked for refurbishment and I have had it steam before. This time the pressure valve was leaking and it just would not produce enough steam to get going. Owen kindly offered me the loan of one of his valves and it was all systems go!

Four old boilers
Four old boilers! Left to right: Me, Owen Roberts, Richard Payn and Geoff Brown.

The earlier one of my two engines had not been steamed since I acquired it back at the end of July. We did have a cursory go at building a head of steam but it was looking as if something was amiss and seeing as I have not had a chance to strip it and service it, commonsense prevailed and the burner was extinguished.

On display

Sue managed to find another ‘Pink’ VW model made up in the main hall. Unfortunately the owner was not to be found so the opportunity to swap notes did not arise (was that your VW model? drop Sue an e-mail so we can credit the photograph: Sue@my-meccano.co.uk ).

1937 model transporter bridge.
Malcolm Hanson's Very nice 1937 model transporter bridge built in the blue and gold Meccano of the period.

Fellow SELMEC member, Adrian Ashford built a copy of  Craig Longhurst’s ping-pong ball lifter (based on an original design by Les Pattison). Although Sue got a shot of it I did not get a chance to talk to him about it. I’m hoping he will be taking it to next week’s meeting in Eltham on Saturday.

Other models of interest were there in abundance. I particularly liked a model of an 0-4-0 fireless loco that made an unusual subject and the ball-roller clock was interesting. Sue is still on the lookout for Ferris wheels and spotted Frank Paine’s Dealer display red and green model.


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Five in a row
It's not often you will see five 1929 steam engines in a row.


Not Sue's
A Beetle - not Sue's
Fireless loco
Fireless loco.
Ball roller clock
Ball roller clock.