Frank Hornby (1863–1936), inventor of one of the world’s most famous toys, was born in Liverpool in 1863.
For the amusement of his sons, Hornby built a toy crane out of perforated metal strips that were held together with nuts and bolts. The crane could be dismantled and the parts used to build different models. Hornby saw a future for this versatile toy and set out to mass-produce it.
The toy was patented on January 9, 1901 as “Mechanics Made Easy”. In 1907 it became known as Meccano and took the toy world by storm.
Hornby started making its own parts in a small, one-room factory. In 1914 the factory opened on Binns Road. This remained the company’s headquarters for more than 60 years. In the 1920s and 1930s, Meccano Ltd. the largest toy manufacturer in the UK.
Frank Hornby died on September 21, 1936. His legacy lives on to this day. Thousands of enthusiasts around the world still build Meccano models and operate Hornby railroad systems.
The founding of the Stockmann Brothers company on the city limits of Lucerne in 1941 turned out to be a stroke of luck. The Second World War made it extremely difficult to import toys into Switzerland and practically came to a standstill. While metal construction kits from the world-famous MECCANO and its German competitor MAERKLIN dominated the toy market before the war, both products were practically no longer available in Switzerland at that time. This despite the fact that the metal construction kit, as the forerunner of all learning and teaching games, held an important position in the toy market at that time. In 1941 the Stockmann brothers developed the “Urstokys” with a hole spacing of 10 mm. However, on the advice of a leading toy retailer, the well-known customs system from MECCANO and MAERKLIN with a hole spacing of ½ inch was adopted.