WAN Awards 2018


WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

Meccano bridge, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Wednesday 12 Aug 2009

Life size toy bridge built for TV show

Meccano bridge by Atkins in Liverpool, United Kingdom
Meccano bridge by Atkins in Liverpool, United Kingdom Meccano bridge by Atkins in Liverpool, United Kingdom Meccano bridge by Atkins in Liverpool, United Kingdom
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 1

Add comments | More comments

14/08/09 Martin Tairo, Nairobi
This is off the norm, realizing real stuff from toys.....

Atkins engineer full size bridge from Meccano for BBC TV show 

A full size bridge made exclusively of Meccano toy pieces was unveiled in Liverpool, UK this weekend as part of the BBC2 series, James May’s Toy Stories, where he takes iconic toys and uses them to ambitious effect.

To test the strength of the bridge May walked across the full 23 m length over water. Five teams pitched for the design but the winning idea came from three architectural students from Liverpool University, while the challenge of transforming the idea into reality fell to leading engineering and design consultancy Atkins.

Hayden Nuttall, design director for Atkins, said: “Like all the best jobs, this was an extremely difficult and complex challenge but we had brilliant fun along the way. I grew up playing with Meccano but never imagined I’d have to use it to design a real bridge. There was no precedent for this so it was engineering in the dark and the success or failure of the project was touch and go right until the very end.”

Meccano Bridge Facts and Figures

Number of parts – approx 100,000 including 28,000 bolts.
Number of man hours in construction – approx 1,100 hours
Width of Canal – 12m
Total length of Bridge – 23m
Width of bridge – 30cm (the width of a sheet of A3 paper)
Height of bridge over water – 5m (up to the guttering of a two-storey house)
Total Weight of Bridge – approx ½ tonne.
Total length of Meccano in bridge laid end to end would stretch 6.1*10-13 light years or about three and a half miles.
Laid flat it would cover an area of 0.0001134 homesteads or 800 sq ft.

Liverpool was home to Meccano for more than 70 years until the Binns Road “Factory of Dreams” closed in 1979. 30 years on and with Meccano back to its native soil, May was careful to stay faithful to the mechanics in Meccano and chose a bridge that moves, with one nine metre beam sliding into place like a canal lock gate, with the other 12 metre section rolling down like a drawbridge.

The construction of the bridge was being handled by the students of Liverpool University’s Mechanical Engineering department, with some help from the North East Meccano Guild, and took approximately 1,100 hours to complete.

The bridge was erected on the new Leeds Liverpool canal extension, which runs from the Albert Dock, past the foot of the Liver building all the way to Leeds and the rest of the European canal system.


More projects by this architect

Bayshore precinct

Dubai Opera

Rabat Masterplan

Tech spot #52: Wellbriefing

History Centre

Atkins head office

Mixed-use development

Vincom Landmark 81

IMX Corporate Campus

Innovation Centre & Campus Hub, University of Edinburgh

Window of Guangzhou

Asia Aerospace City

Cloud Computing Park

Alila Jabal Akhdar

The Oval

Qingdao Airport

Festive Feature - Atkins

Lavenue Crown Hotel

Strategic Framework

Mixed-use Tower

Santa Roza Tower

The Oval

Vung Ro Bay Development

Dongyang Masterplan

Waterfront Masterplan

Skyworth Gongming

Sultan Qaboos Sports Academy

West Hall

Pacific Dream Plaza

Alcatraz Island

South Quarter

Ad Astra Tower

Sherborne Qatar Design Competition


White City Masterplan

Belfast Streets Ahead

Bahrain World Trade Center

Durrat al Bahrain

Oxford Circus Streetscape Improvements

Shotton Hall Secondary school



Bahrain World Trade Center

Atkins Chengdu Complex, China

Bahrain World Trade Centre

Al Sharq Office Complex

Portland Marina

The Lighthouse

Bahrain World Trade Centre

China's Central Park

Al Sharq

TEDA Towers Tianjin, China


Songjiang Hotel

Pier 8 Development

Iris Bay

Trump International Hotel & tower, the Palm Jumeirah

Mixed use development

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site