Bradley After Youth Kareers Off
How I Got Started with BAYKO

The 'subtlety' of the world's movers and shakers never ceases to amaze. So when, at the March, Lane End meeting, a plea went out for an article for the next issue, with the 'subtle' addendum, “Why don't you write something Pete?” I thought, “Why don't you write something Pete?” Subtlety is never wasted!!!!
So, how did I get started in BAYKO? My early years are no different to most. I was born on the last day of the 50th Tax year last century [told you I could be subtle]. For this my dad picked up a full year's tax relief and a substantial hangover. I like to think the former contributed (6 years later) to the price of a typical, mid 50's, No. 2 set, I know I've inherited the latter several times over!
Typical mint set #2 from the mid 1950s
This set proved an instant success and was followed by a 2X Converting set the following Christmas. For a while I ran a protection racket amongst the flock of spinsters and widows that served for a family. The proceeds of this, plus my hoarded pocket money, led, every few weeks, to Saturday morning visits to 'The Pram Shop' in 'The Garden City of England', Blackburn.
Clearly, these made a big impression on me. I can still remember the excitement engendered by several of them - the first time I built a square bay with Side Windows and Gable Roof; [anybody want any, I've got millions now?] the first time I built the Town Hall with 2-Brick Pillars, Corner Bricks and Balustrades; the exotica of Pinnacles, Domes and Turrets. A snotty nosed oik friend down the road came to BAYKO a little later than me and raved about the new MECCANO styling, which I have never really come to terms with. This schism wasn't terminal - on August 13th, 1964 we went to see the Beatles in Llandudno and even went to each other's weddings - such ecumenism!!
One of the two BAYKO Retail Cabinets that I picked up thanks to radio Blackburn
Somewhere between the Pram Shop and adolescence I discovered those strange creatures, as Prince Charles once said, with lumpy jumpers. The result being that I lapsed from the one true faith for several years. My reconversion was not so much the result of a voice crying in the wilderness more of no voice at all.
Let me explain. At the ripe old age of 25 I had a severe dose of laryngitis. It wasn't just a 24-hour problem. After 2 weeks I could still only whisper, but I was beginning to feel better - and to get a little bored. For want of a more exciting alternative, I tuned in to Radio Blackburn, as it then was, and their Swap Shop programme. The boredom wasn't alleviated, so I phoned in and told them I had nothing to swap, except perhaps a couple of £1 notes, did anybody have any BAYKO to swap. Try and picture the scene [even if it was radio!] - a 25 year-old lad, who could only whisper, phoning in and asking to acquire an already dated, kids' toy. The DJ had a ball - he took 'a rise' out of me for 5 minutes, [but I held my own!], put a record on and then carried on for another 5 minutes.
The outcome of this major media event was that I got 6 offers. The first 5 were the usual abused biscuit-tin full, which probably summed up my own collection at that stage - but number 6 was different.
Again, picture the scene as I was shown into a substantial semi with a large Kitchen/Dining room stretching the full width of the rear of the house. Now I'm not a small bloke, but looked it beside the 2 teenage Neanderthals [judging by their communication skills]. They had 4 tracks of Scalextric resting on the Kitchen work surfaces, the Dining Room table, and an array of chair backs, by way of bridge supports, between. Accompanied by an almost-human nod in the direction of the corner of the lounge, another grunt led me to 2 full, cardboard, Retail Cabinets, survivors of a deceased toyshop. £10 was exchanged, and the boredom-relieving joke had rebounded into phase 1 of my reconversion.
The Antwerp Retail Cabinet
As the addiction took hold, things spiralled out of control. At first I thought I could handle it - after all, what's the harm in attending an occasional Toy Fair? It wasn't long before the Swap Meets and Toy Fairs were every weekend, sometimes even twice. Then I got into advertising, the Collectors' press, Loot, the local rags and freebies; it was all the same to me. Finally I got into the hard stuff - exhibitions - need I say more‽ Surely there's no way back now!
Some 7 years later, 2 years after what my wife tells me was 'the happiest day of my life', I read an advert in Railway Modeller for BAYKO and purchased their entire stock of MECCANO era 'new parts'. My downfall was complete.
I remember that, just prior to one of my earliest exhibitions, in Liverpool in 1994, I had just acquired a retail cabinet from a toyshop in Antwerp, Belgium. With the cabinet came a limited number of leaflets, in Flemish. By way of a bit of banter with the visitors, I offered a prize for anybody who could translate the leaflet. Needless to say, I switched very rapidly to 'plan B' when Leo arrived - sorry Leo, you never did get a prize!
1 BAYKO Mill
A large Victorian cotton mill, typical of the 132 that used to grace the 'Garden City'.
2 BAYKO Buildings
A 1960s style can you use the word style about 60's architecture?] office block built with MECCANO era pieces.
3 BAYKO Hotel
A Victorian style, sea front hotel to be built from standard peak period parts.
4 St BAYKO Cathedral
Rebuilding it a little bigger and better proportioned this time - which should dry up the world's supply of white Corner Bricks!
5 BAYKO Railways
Modular extensions to the existing 18 feet, eventually allowing me to run up to a scale mile in O-O gauge!
[Anybody got a portable 71-foot table?]
I particularly like pre-war BAYKO, don't we all, and this would certainly rate as my second love, not very far behind the first. I am always on the lookout for sets to display, or job lots to build with. I don't know why, but I don't seem to have picked up much in the way of the true red and white produced around 1937 to 1938 for building - all contributions gratefully received!
Partly by the accident of acquisition, I'm also developing an interest in wholesale and retail packaging. As many may have seen at the March, Lane End meeting, I've got quite a surplus of some items. I'm not interested in selling any, but I would be only too happy to swap with anybody to plug some of my, and, of course, your, gaps.
What is BAYKO's future in the 21st century? I'm in the middle of trying to use the animation feature in the Microsoft Office package PowerPoint to synthesise virtual BAYKO building. Has anyone tried anything similar?
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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