Frank Hornby’s 150th birthday marked on Google’s UK homepage

15 May 2013

The Google Doodle - a stylised Google logo - in honour of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frank Hornby

Head to today and you’ll see a Google Doodle made up of toy trains to honour what would have been the 150th birthday of Frank Hornby, the inventor of Hornby Model Railways, Meccano and Dinky Toys.

Despite having no formal training in the subject, Hornby created and produced three of the most popular engineering-based toys of the 20th century.

Seen as a toy visionary, Hornby first patented his Meccano construction set of re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles, gears, nuts and bolts in 1901, though at that time he called it Mechanics Made Easy.

He established Meccano Ltd in 1908, which went on to produce the die-cast miniature model cars and trucks that made up Dinky Toys in the Thirties. The company also produced the Hornby Railways model train sets.

Hornby’s birthday will be celebrated through a four-day festival in Liverpool, where he was born. The Hornby festival will include a play, a lecture at the Museum of Liverpool, and an exhibition dedicated to the toymaker, while elsewhere in England Frank Hornby Week was launched on Monday at Brighton Toy and Model Museum.

UPDATE: A permanent link to the doodle can be found here.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.