Belfast Telegraph

Toy fans will be riveted by plan to cross Lagan using Meccano

By Rebecca Black

It's an old childhood favourite - and it's set to span the River Lagan this summer.

An ambitious project to create a temporary bridge constructed entirely from Meccano is the brainchild of the engineering department at Queen's University, Belfast.

Schoolchildren will be drafted in to help the students and academics as part of the university's outreach programme.

Members of Belfast City Council's Parks and Leisure Committee heard last month that Queen's has requested permission to hold an event at Clement Wilson Park linked to the construction of the bridge.

The committee heard the lightweight crossing is be around 24 metres and is proposed to span a section of the river in Clement Wilson Park in the south of the city. The university has designed and tested a model of the bridge and told the committee that it is "satisfied that it can be done".

Construction is set to take place off site, and sections of the bridge will be transported to the park where they will be erected on site.

Special pieces of Meccano have had to be ordered by the university for the project.

Construction is expected to start shortly at Queen's for sections of the bridge before the bridge-building event takes place in June. Queen's require permission from the Rivers Agency for the bridge and from Belfast City Council as owners of Clement Wilson Park to hold the construction event.

Last night the council voted in favour and endorsed a recommendation from the Parks and Leisure committee granting permission for Queen's to erect the temporary bridge.

It's not the first time a bridge made from Meccano has been constructed.

There was one completed in Liverpool in 2009. Top Gear presenter James May fronted the project as part of his Toy Stories television programme.

It was built by students from the University of Liverpool School of Engineering across the city's canal and was strong enough to support May as he walked over it.

Factfile

Meccano was originally invented by toy legend Frank Hornby in Liverpool in 1898.

While principally a child's toy, it has been used for some audacious structures, such as a giant Ferris wheel in France in 1990.

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