Tyne and Wear Metro in wool and Meccano!

What do you do in lockdown when everything is closed and you have to entertain yourself? It would appear that if you are in the northeast you use the Tyne and Wear Metro as inspiration – with one of the original Metrocars immortalised in wool and one of the new yet to be built trains created using Meccano! Both creations are at very different ends of the spectrum but neither are any less impressive for it!

The Meccano train has been built over three months by John Herdman, Chairman of the North Eastern Meccano Society, and is a 2.5 metes replica which even includes seats, handrails and many other features. Its been described in the press release by Nexus as a labour of love and has been built using individual pieces of standard Meccano parts. It even runs along its own track and can be controlled remotely.

John explains more: “Meccano is a real labour love for me, so I was more than happy to take on the challenge of recreating the new Metro train. I’ve been in love with Meccano since the age of five. It’s a fantastic thing for all ages and generations to be creative with. It’s a great British icon. I wrote to Nexus to ask about putting this together and they then put me in contact with Stadler, the train builders, who sent me some dimensions. I was also able to get a good guide of what I needed to do from the various artists images of what the new Metros are going to look like. It took me three months to build it. I’m really pleased with the outcome. I’ve made Meccano models of the current Metro trains before, so this was the next step and it was an exciting project, given we’re all really looking forward to seeing the actual new Metro carriages next year. The aim is to get the model on show for a few days at Beamish open air museum and at the Locomotion railway museum at Shildon once lockdown measures allow.”

Metro Development Director, Neil Blagburn, also commented: “It’s fantastic that our new Metro fleet project is inspiring people. John’s done an absolutely brilliant job in creating a model of the new train using Meccano. He’s been a friend of Metro for many years and has wowed visitors with his model making at previous depot open days that we held in 2010 and in 2005. It’s great to see the finished piece and it’s really educational for young people, who may be looking at careers in engineering. It certainly whets the appetite for the actual new Metro trains which aren’t too far away now, with manufacturing commencing in a few months’ time.”

Possibly at the more bizarre end of the scale though is a 12 foot long Metro carriage which has been created in wool to help the system celebrate their 40th anniversary! 30 volunteers from a community group in North Tyneside took on the task to create a colourful carriage with it knitted piece by piece before carefully being sewed together.

Whitley Bay Big Local’s Community Development worker, Sarah Sutton, directed the Stakeholder Relations Team at Nexus, to the Knit and Natter Group to undertake the project, which has now seen the finished product go on display at the art gallery in Tynemouth Metro station.

Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director, said: “This is a fantastic community project that celebrates Metro’s 40th year in a really fun and creative way. Metro is part of  everyday life in the communities that it serves, so it’s great to see a local group coming together to showcase their talents, despite all of the challenges posed by lockdown. It stemmed from an idea from one of our Stakeholder Relations Officer’s who heard about Knit and Natter and thought it would be great if the group could work together to knit a train. Our iconic Metro train has been so carefully recreated in wool by a group of knitters who have  had to rely on meeting up over Zoom calls during the pandemic. My congratulations go to everyone involved in producing such a wonderful tribute to Metro’s proud heritage. It’s fitting that we have been able to display the finished knit in the gallery at Tynemouth station for people to be able to see it for themselves as they pass through.”

It just goes to show you can create something about of practically anything!

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