Child's play: Meccano bridge over River Lagan approved

A toy that has been used for child’s play for generations is about to span a famous Irish river as a bridge later this year.

Meccano is to be used in the building of a bridge in Ireland

Meccano is to be used in the building of a bridge in Ireland Image by Les Chatfield / CC BY 2.0

A plan to build a temporary bridge across the River Lagan made entirely from Meccano is to go ahead – the idea coming from Queen’s University’s Engineering Department in Belfast. Although Meccano is principally a child's toy, it was previously used in the construction of a number of structures, including a Ferris wheel in France over quarter of a century ago.

The River Lagan

The River Lagan. Image by Horslips5 / CC BY 2.0

And with Meccano involved, used as a toy since it was invented in 1898, it will come as no surprise to find out that children are being brought in to assist the students and academics as part of the college’s outreach programme.

The Irish Independent reports that the university had sought permission to hold this event at Clement Wilson Park for the bridge construction.

Members of Belfast City Council's Parks and Leisure Committee heard during the application last month that the lightweight structure would be close to 24 metres wide  in the area it was spanning the river. The university said they had both designed and tested a model to ensure that the project was feasible.

The bridge, which will require special pieces of Meccano already ordered for the project, will be built off site and then erected in sections on site.

The preparation work will begin shortly at the university and the bridge-building event itself will take place this summer.

The council has voted to grant permission for the erection of the temporary bridge.

Six years ago, Top Gear presenter James May sprearheaded a similar project in Liverpool as part of the presenter’s Toy Stories TV programme. That bridge was sturdy enough to take the star’s weight as he walked across it.

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