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Friday, 15 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #28 – 15 May 1863

Frank Hornby was born in Liverpool on 15 May, 1863.  He was a businessman, a politician and an inventor.  And what an inventor!  His main interest was in developing toys, based on engineering techniques.  He started making metal construction kits for his children, toys that would be eventually called Meccano.  He patented the invention in 1901, registering it as “Improvements in Toy or Educational Devices for Children and Young People”.

Around 1934, the Meccano company started producing miniature vehicles under the range name Dinky Toys.

In 1938, the company introduced toy clockwork locomotives in diecast metal and Hornby train systems grew out of that initiative.

Frank Hornby’s and his team’s creations have entertained and educated several generations with imaginative toys, and to this day, all over the world, enthusiasts continue to celebrate his genius.

He died at 73 on 21 September, 1936.

Sources: Various

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