Life Video

By James Somper


A Meccano-mad pensioner has spent three years painstakingly building a three stone model of the Titanic – using 2,000 individual pieces.

Grandad-of-two Bill Gardiner, 85, has been making Meccano models for the last 70 years but said his latest creation is his finest.

The retired postman grafted for more than 1,000 hours to recreate the doomed liner in a spare room at his home in Kidderminster, Worcs, using only the Hollywood film for reference.

Pics by Peter Goddard / Caters News

Married dad-of-two Bill built the 18-inch high and 4ft long model by hand using only basic tools and claims his hobby has even kept Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay.

Bill said: “The Titanic is definitely the best one I’ve ever done.

“I had all this Meccano at 85, so I thought I’d use it all up.

“I think it’s great. Everyone says how good it is, I’ve been able to include lots of details like the wheelhouse, crowsnest, anchors and even life boats.

“It’s kept my brain working – if I try and read a book or anything I fall asleep but if I go and do some Meccano I can keep awake for hours.

Pics by Peter Goddard / Caters News

“It keeps my mind active and I think it’s kept Alzheimer’s at bay, definitely.”

Bill first had the idea to build the Titanic three years ago after watching the film when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016.

The pensioner has spent eight hours a week over the last three years on the huge metal model, which weighs 20kg [3st 1lbs].

Remarkably, Bill was able to capture the unique detail of the Titanic using only the 1997 film starring Hollywood heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

He said: “In 2016 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I watched the full Titanic film. Afterwards, I said I wanted a bash at making Titanic.

Pics by Peter Goddard / Caters News

“I had to do the base part in two sections and around 18 months ago I started coming towards the finish.

“I had the film recorded so if I wanted to capture a particular detail I’d paused it, picked the part I wanted and got some A4 paper and tried to sketch it.

“Then I went upstairs and got to work.”

Bill’s love of Meccano began as a child after his father gifted him a set back in 1940 – and he also instilled a love of the game in his own children.

Among the hundreds of models Bill has created, recent highlights include a train, dumper truck and ferris wheel.

He said: “It’s amazing what you can do with Meccano.

Pics from Caters News: Collect photograph of Bill Gardiner from 1973 with a gantry crane he built from Meccano

“I still remember building my first set as a child, but it was in the 1970s I really got into it.

“I liked engineering and the process of building things and bolting things together.

“I was always putting things together and making things.

“People gave me their sets and soon I had thousands and thousands of pieces and it just built up from there.”

Pics from Caters News: Collect photograph of Bill Gardiner from 1991 with a land speed record car he built from Meccano.CATERS COPY

Proud wife of 62 years Anne added: “I’d never heard of Meccano till we met.

“Bill has built cranes, cars and windmills and he even made toys which children could play with.

“He’s very clever, some of his models have been amazing.”

Bill, who is currently trying to sell the model for £500 to donate the money to Cancer Research, has firm advice for anyone interested in taking up his hobby.

He added: “Start with little things and keep on trying and building your way up to big things, everything has to work freely.”