BAYKO in 'Best of British' Magazine
February 2001

'Best of British' is a glossy, monthly magazine which carried articles on a wide range of subjects, past and present, which would hopefully resonate with the British public...
...so naturally they couldn't help but include an article involving BAYKO!!!
This particular article appeared towards the rear of the February, 2001 issue of the 'Best of British' magazine.
In this case the article is a general one, talking about building toys in general, but, naturally, BAYKO is included.
The article comprises two half pages, and was written by Brian Howes. It is heavily illustrated with no less than six different construction toy adverts in quite a modest space.
There is a later double-paged article, written by Brian Salter, printed in the October, 2002 issue, which happened to be billed as the commemorative, 75th issue...
 
This article reads as follows : -
Turning out the Toybox
Plastic Pastimes
 
Meccano may well have dominated the construction toy market for most of the first half of the 20th Century, but the post-war years saw Frank Hornby's ingenious invention rivalled by a plethora of plastic pastimes with immense play value.
Meccano had several close impersonators in the metal construction toy market in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World war, one of which was 'Juneero' made at Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire.
'Best of British' magazine February, 2001, front cover
Developments and advances in the plastics industry during the war, however, were to provide Meccano with its stiffest competition after hostilities came to an end.
Plastics really came of age during the war, and advances in the process of injection moulding made the toy market the perfect arena for innovative ideas.
Huge house building and reconstruction projects stimulated great interest in construction-based toys with children of post-war Britain, paving the way for the arrival of a wide variety of building kits and construction sets.
Perhaps the best remembered of these is Bayko, a name derived as a result of being made from a type of Bakelite. Produced in Gibraltar Row, Liverpool, by the Plimpton Engineering Co Ltd, Bayko worked on the principal of metal rods being positioned upright on a base plate down which walls, doors and window frames were neatly slotted to form exquisite houses, bungalows, railway signal boxes and all manner of realistic-looking buildings - the type and size of which depended on the size of Bayko set you owned.
Constructing from Bayko require a fair degree of skill, for parts were a little fiddly for smaller children to handle and were also quite brittle. It proved a popular building toy, however, and paved the way for others to exploit this ever-expanding market.
By the 1950s Lego, the ubiquitous plastic building toy invented in Sweden and still hugely popular today, was making its mark on the British toy market, but it soon gained a fierce rival in the shape of Betta Bilda.

Betta Bilda was made by Airfix, a name which by the mid-1950s was synonymous with plastic construction kits [mainly ships and aircraft] usually sold in Woolworth stores for two shillings. Betta Bilda was similar to Lego, but had much smaller clip-together bricks. Competitions, often with handsome prizes, were staged for children to exploit their Betta Bilda building skills and its popularity lasted well into the 1960s.

'Best of British' magazine February, 2001, Page 60'Best of British' magazine February, 2001, Page 60
The Chad Valley Toy Company of Harborne, near Birmingham, made a late entry into the building set market in 1957 with a product they described as 'entirely different, original and realistic'.
"The way real buildings are constructed" read the message on the box artwork of its 'Girder and Panel Building Set' designed to reflect the style of modern post-war buildings. They were constructed by various combinations of snap-together plastic girders which were fixed to a flat Masonite base and filled in with realistic wall and roof panels. Unlike Bayko, this toy had a very American feel about it, children being encouraged to build skyscrapers and shopping centres rather than humble suburban bungalows. Set No. 1 had a price tag of 19/6d a fair amount of money in those days.
Brickplayer was manufactured by J.W. Spear and Co. of Enfield, Middlesex and seemed to be aimed at the 'O' gauge model railway enthusiast, while Lott's Bricks were said to "co-ordinate hand and eye while giving endless fun".
'Best of British' Magazine, February, 2001, page 60, BAYKO advert
Perhaps the most quirky and unusual of all building sets of this period, however, was the ultimate do-it-yourself in miniature experience offered by J.H. Sankey Ltd of Ilford, Essex. Pyruma was a type of plastic cement from which you moulded your own bricks, baked them and glued them together with Tiluma jointing Cement. An instruction book was available by post in exchange for 4d in stamps, and the pictures of finished models contained within, mostly railway buildings, looked super.
Many hours of fun and amusement were gained from all of these building sets.
Which one was your favourite?
There are a few points above that I would debate, but the most significant are the date of the arrival of Lego in the U.K., which I understand to have been in 1959, and its Danish, not Swedish, origin - though the original design was actually British.
There was also a BAYKO advert included within the article. To judge from the artwork and the prices quoted, the advert comes from 'MECCANO Magazine' some time between November, 1949 and January, 1951. There was also a brief caption alongside the advert : -
Bayko was one of the earliest plastic building sets to be made in Britain by the Plimpton Engineering Co Ltd of Liverpool.
 
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