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How a Meccano Set Became the Mother of Invention

In Business, Government, Ideas, International Trade, Invention, Social History, Trading, Trevor Baylis on 4 September 2011 at 13:39

“Achievement is more important than qualifications.”

Bob Bluffield meets the inventor Trevor Baylis

The most obscure things can often shape our futures and for Trevor Baylis it was the fortuitous discovery of a deluxe box of Meccano on a rubbish tip while foraging for scrap metal as a young boy in wartime west London. By adding the wide range of pieces to the cherished basic set his father had bought him presented him with the opportunity to extend his creativity. By his own admission, Trevor was not in the least bit academic. He considers that “achievement is more important than qualifications” – a policy he has adhered to throughout his long career without causing himself any undue harm, even though he couldn’t have thought this when he and his mates took every opportunity to bunk off junior school. Instead of class work they preferred to pursue more boyish adventures and during the Blitz there was plenty of opportunity to do just that. They collected shrapnel from the enemy raids of the previous night and bits of scrap that could be sold for smelting to aid the war effort. When they weren’t scavenging, Trevor and his friends were preoccupied with swimming even though this was in the foul smelling effluent water of the nearby Grand Union Canal. After discovering he had a natural ability to float, Trevor became a first class swimmer and by the age of fifteen represented Great Britain, but became disappointed when he missed out on a place in the 1958 Olympics.  When the time came to leave school, Trevor claims he could barely read and write but was offered a job at a soil mechanics laboratory where he had the opportunity to study mechanical and structural engineering on part-time day release.

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