name = Frank Hornby
image_size = 200px
birth_date = birth date|1863|5|15|df=y
death_date = death date and age|1936|9|21|1863|5|15|df=y
known_for = Inventor of
occupation = Toy inventor, Businessman,
spouse = Clara Walker Godefroy
parents = John Oswald Hornby, Martha Hornby (née Thomlinson)
children = Roland, Douglas, Patricia
Frank Hornby (
15 May 1863– 21 September 1936) was an English inventor, businessmanand politician. He was a visionary in toy development and manufacture and produced three of the most popular lines of toys in the twentieth century: Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys. He also founded the British toy company Meccano Ltdin 1908.
Although Hornby was responsible for the invention and production of
Meccano, one of the world's most famous toysbased on engineering principles, he had no formal engineeringtraining. The only experience he had was in the wholesaleprovision marketing trade.
Hornby was born on
15 May 1863in Liverpool, Englandand was the son of John Oswald Hornby, a provision merchantand his wife Martha Hornby (née Thomlinson). At the age of sixteen, Hornby left school and started working as a cashierin his father's business. On 15 January 1887he married a schoolteacher Clara Walker Godefroy, the daughter of a customs officerand they had two sons, Roland and Douglas, and a daughter, Patricia. When his father died in 1899, his father's business was closed and Hornby became a bookkeeperfor David Hugh Elliot who ran a meat importing business in Liverpool.
After experimenting with new ideas in his home
workshop, Hornby began making toys for his sons in 1899 with pieces he cut from sheet metal. He built models of bridges, trucks and cranes, although the pieces they were made from were not interchangeable. The breakthrough came when Hornby realised that if he could make separate, interchangeable parts that could be bolted together, any model could be built from the same components. The key inventive step was the realisation that regular perforations in the structural pieces could be used, not only to join them together with nuts and bolts, but also to journal - act as a bearing for - axles and shafts. This made the construction of complex mechanisms relatively simple. He started making metal strips by hand from coppersheets. The strips were half an inchwide with holes for bolts spaced at half inch intervals. Initially he made the nuts and bolts himself, but he soon found an alternate source of supply.
By the end of 1900 Hornby had built a set of parts he considered worth
marketing. On advice, he patented his invention in January 1901 as "Improvements in Toy or Educational Devices for Children and Young People", but not without first having to borrow five pounds from his employer, David Elliot, to cover the costs. During 1901 Hornby began looking for companies to manufacturehis product, but it was poorly finished and did not attract much attention. Still having to support his family on the small wagehe earned, Hornby did not have much time to market his invention. Fortunately, his employer saw potential in what Hornby was doing and offered him some vacant premises next to the office where he worked to pursue his ideas. With this move, Elliot and Hornby became partners.
Mechanics Made Easy
Hornby now called his construction toy "Mechanics Made Easy" and after receiving a positive endorsement from professor
Henry Selby Hele-Shaw, then Head of the Engineering Department at Liverpool University, Hornby managed to secure contracts with outside manufacturers to supply the parts for his construction sets. With the financial assistance of his partner, "Mechanics Made Easy" sets went on sale in 1902. Each set had only 16 different parts with a leaflet detailing the construction of 12 models. In 1903, 1,500 sets were sold, although no profit was made. New parts were continually being introduced and in 1904, six sets, packed in tinboxes with instruction manuals in French and English, became available. In 1905 two new sets were introduced and in 1906, for the first time, a small profit was made.
By 1907 Hornby's part suppliers could not meet the demand. This prompted Hornby to quit his job with Elliot and find suitable premises to begin manufacturing his own parts. He secured a three year lease on a workshop in Duke Street, Liverpool, and with the help of a loan granted to Hornby and Elliot for machinery and wages, they were manufacturing their own parts by June 1907.
In September 1907, Hornby registered his famous "Meccano" trade mark and used this name on all new sets. In order to raise more capital to invest in a larger factory and plant, a company had to be created. This led to the formation of
Meccano Ltdon 30 May 1908. Elliot had decided not to join the new company, leaving Hornby as the sole proprietor. The Meccano factory was relocated to West Derby Road in Liverpool, and in 1910 the famous "MECCANO" logo was commissioned. Meccano Ltd's turnover for the 1910 financial year was 12,000 pounds.
Meccano was exported to many countries and in 1912, Hornby and his son, Roland, formed Meccano (France) Ltd in
Paristo manufacture Meccano. An office was also opened in Berlin, Germanyand Märklinbegan to manufacture Meccano under licence. Hornby also started importing clockworkmotors from Märklin.
In order to keep pace with demand, a new factory was built in Binns Road, Liverpool. By September 1914 the Binns Road Factory was in full production and became the company headquarters for over 60 years.:"See
Meccanofor the main article.":"See Meccano Ltd for the main article."
In addition to Meccano, Hornby developed and manufactured a number of other model kits and toys, including:
*1909 – "Hornby System of Mechanical Demonstration", an educational set.
Clockwork lithographed tinplate O scaletrains.
Dinky Toys, die-cast miniature model cars and trucks.
*1938 – Hornby Dublo model railway system (introduced after Hornby's death).
In 1916, Hornby launched a monthly publication,
Meccano Magazine, which remained in circulation for over sixty years, and in 1930 he formed the Meccano Guild, an amalgamation of Meccano clubs from all over the world.
By the 1930s, Hornby had become a millionaire. He owned a mansion and was chauffeured to Binns Road every day by limousine. In 1931 he entered politics when he was elected as a Conservative MP for the Everton constituency. He left the running of the company to his co-Directors and staff. But he did not stay in politics long – he resigned his parliamentary seat before the 1935
Hornby died of a chronic
heart conditioncomplicated by diabetesin Liverpool on 21 September 1936. His elder son Roland took over as Chairmanof Meccano Ltd.
Hornby's legacy lives on today with thousands of enthusiasts all over the world still building Meccano models and running Hornby Train sets.
*cite book | first=Anthony | last=McReady | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=2002 | title=The Toy Story - The Life and Times of Inventor Frank Hornby | edition=| pages=288 | publisher=Ebury Press | location= | id= ISBN 0-09-188117-X
* [http://www.eliwhitney.org/hornby/preface.htm Frank Hornby: The Boy Who Made $1,000,000 With a Toy]
* [http://www.toyman.co.za/history/hornby.html Short Pictorial History of Frank Hornby]
* [http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/liverpoollife/life/displaylife.asp?id=1 Liverpool Lives – Frank Hornby]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/6981/TMG_files/history_files/meccano_early_years/meccano_the_early_years.htm Meccano, The Early Years]
SHORT DESCRIPTION=English toy inventor, businessman and politician
DATE OF BIRTH=birth date|1863|5|15
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=death date|1936|9|21
PLACE OF DEATH=
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Frank Hornby — (* 15. Mai 1863 in Liverpool, England; † 21. September 1936 Liverpool, England) war ein britischer Erfinder, Geschäftsmann und Politiker der Konservativen Partei mit Sitz im Parlament. Patent GB190100587A für Meccano Der von Fran … Deutsch Wikipedia
Frank Hornby — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hornby. Brevet pour le Meccano déposé par Frank Hornby en 1901. Frank Hornby (né le 15 mai 1863 à Liverpool, mort le … Wikipédia en Français
Hornby Hobbies Limited — Unternehmensform Limited Company Unternehmenssitz … Deutsch Wikipedia
Hornby Railways — is the leading brand of model railway in the United Kingdom. Its roots date back to 1901, when founder Frank Hornby received a patent for his Meccano construction toy. The first clockwork train was produced in 1920. In 1938 Hornby launched its… … Wikipedia
Hornby Railways — Hornby Hobbies Limited Rechtsform Limited Company Sitz Margate Vereinigtes Konigreich … Deutsch Wikipedia
Hornby — ist der Name von A. S. Hornby, britischer Lexikograph Ben Hornby, australischer Rugbyspieler Clive Hornby, britischer Schauspieler Frank Hornby, britischer Erfinder, Geschäftsmann und Politiker der Konservativen Partei mit Sitz im Parlament… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Hornby (entreprise) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hornby. Hornby Group Plc Dates clés 1920 : Création Fondateurs Frank Hornby … Wikipédia en Français
Hornby — The name Hornby can refer to :PlacesCanada*Hornby Island Island in the Canadian Strait of GeorgiaEngland*Hornby, Lancashire A town in Lancashire *Hornby, Hambleton A village in the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire *Hornby, Richmondshire A… … Wikipedia
Hornby, Frank — SUBJECT AREA: Domestic appliances and interiors [br] b. 15 May 1863 Liverpool, England d. 21 September 1936 Liverpool, England [br] English toy manufacturer and inventor of Meccano kits. [br] Frank Hornby left school at the age of 16 and worked… … Biographical history of technology
Hornby — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Hornby peut désigner : Patronyme Andy Hornby (né en 1967), banquier britannique ; Frank Hornby (1863 1936), inventeur britannique, créateur… … Wikipédia en Français