Henley Society of Meccano Engineers
hsme.org.uk

Geoff Wright formed the Society in 1972 as a meeting place for the customers of his shop - MW Models - following the success of the first Henley exhibition in 1972. The intent was to meet about four times a year on Saturday evenings between 6 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. as Geoff was tied up in the shop during the afternoon. Geoff had set up MW Models in 1970 to specialise in the selling of Meccano spare parts over the counter and by mail order.

 

Meetings were normally held in the Sacred Heart church hall and occasionally in the Council Chamber in HenleyTown Hall. There being no committee, a Chairman was elected for each meeting to run the proceedings with a centre piece talk.

 

Shortly after the formation of the HSME, a junior society, the HSJME was started. This was very successful but the junior society found it difficult to fund a separate meeting venue so in 1976 amalgamated with the HSME and met between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on club days. By the 1990s there was little junior interest and meetings would open up at 4:30 p.m. to give time for people to set up models.

 

During 1996 the Sacred Heart church hall was undergoing building works and the meetings were held in the Y.M.C.A. hall. Back at the Sacred Heart for the May meeting in 1997, Geoff announced his intention to stand down as the organiser of the HSME. He and Elizabeth had by then been running the Society for 25 years and felt that the time had come to take life a little easier. Derek Mills had been talking with Geoff shortly before the meeting and offered to take over the organisation and keep things going. Derek’s proposal, which was accepted, was to retain the name of HSME, have three meetings a year with the Gathering as a fourth and have a single annual subscription. The major change intended was to move the time to the afternoon. to make it easier for people to travel home afterwards. Kim Fisher and Eddie Oatley were subsequently recruited to assist with the new arrangements and Dick Henderson offered to produce a Newsletter.

 

The first meeting was held in November 1997 and the first decision was whether to remain at the Sacred Heart Church Hall or go back to the Y.M.C.A. as the Sacred Heart had greatly increased the hire charges. The decision was to stay at the Sacred Heart.

 

The 1999 November AGM included a new agenda item as Geoff had asked if the Society would take on the running of the Henley Gathering in the Town Hall. The Henley Exhibitions had run from 1972 to 1992 and had changed to the International Gatherings after 1993. This was agreed considering it important that the Gathering continued.

 

The 2000 Gathering went very well, but all those stairs in HenleyTown Hall carrying models! The November AGM subsequently saw a proposal of moving the Gathering to the Christ Church Centre which had better access and parking. There was universal favour for the move

 

The 2002 November AGM brought the shock announcement that, due to a serious downturn in business, Geoff had decided to terminate his lease and close the Meccano Shop and that his sponsorship for the Gathering would not be available in the future. It was agreed to charge a per head entrance charge for the Gathering. Collecting money at the Gathering created a new workload and Bryn Jones volunteered to take on the new role of Gathering Coordinator and eight members volunteered to assist him.

 

With the closure of the Meccano Shop the well known Meccano dealer Dave Taylor started attended the Society meetings and Mike Rhoades and Dave Taylor the Gatherings.

 

2005 brought more change because the Sacred Heart Church Hall suddenly closed due to refurbishment of the Church giving the Society very little notice to make other arrangements. In the event the meetings were moved to the Christ Church Centre where they have remained.

 

2011 saw the 40th anniversary of the Henley Exhibition/Gatherings and 2012 saw the 40th anniversry of the Society. Many of the original members are unfortunately no longer with us and the records of the inaugural meeting have not survived but amongst the attendees at  the November 2012 AGM were Kim Fisher, Sheridan Hall, Ian Henwood and Tony Homden who all go back to the early days as well as Geoff and Elizabeth Wright.

 

The Society has been pleased to host the ISM AGM at the Gatherings since 1990. In 2007 Geoff and Elizabeth Wright were awarded the ISM Golden Spanner Award in recognition of their contribution and activity in promoting Meccano as a hobby.

 

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