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Meccano maestro’s 66 years of modelling

Meccano man Joe Etheridge and his giant excavator.

Meccano man Joe Etheridge and his giant excavator.

MEET the Meccano man.

Pensioner Joe Etheridge was just three years old when he made his first Meccano model.

Today, at 69, his youthful hobby has become one pensioner’s passion.

Cars, trains, wagons, buildings, buses – nothing is too much for Joe who is willing to turn his eye to anything that takes his fancy.

Now, he is in the process of finishing off his latest creation, set to go on display across the region.

Beavering away in the study of his Peterlee home, Joe’s painstaking work sees him devoting hours every day to constructing his creations with precision-like detail.

Occasionally, wife Sally, 65, will pop her head round the door before pulling on her coat and heading out for the day, leaving her husband to “get on with it”.

In 2011, Joe spent 12 months building the Newport Bridge in Teesside. The model was four feet high, made up of thousands of parts and had five motors.

Winning him several construction prizes, Joe began dismantling it at the end of last year, realising he would need some of the parts for his latest creation.

And that creation is an excavator used in the oil sands of Alberta in Canada. Inspired after seeing a picture of the machine on the internet, Joe set about building and is expected to finish the job in the next few days.

The former engineer said: “I love building these things, it’s just something I’ve always done. I would spend hours every day doing it if the wife would allow me.

“The favourite thing I’ve ever built was in 1977 during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It was a little model based on an Italian designer but it had lots of little gauges and motors.”

Once Joe finishes off his latest creation, he is planning to display it at toy and model fairs from Sunderland, and all the way down to York.

His model of the Newport Bridge was displayed across the country, from Perth to Skegness.

“There’s a few teething problems I have to finish off with the new excavator”, added Joe. “I need to sort out the power supply.”

But those starting to pity long-suffering Sally should not feel too bad.

“We go all over the place as a couple,” reassures Joe. “It’s not all about building Meccano, we do get out and about together.”

 

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