Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 12:40 UK

May builds Meccano canal bridge

The Meccano bridge structure at the Pier Head
Thousands of pieces of Meccano were used to build the bridge

Top Gear presenter James May and student engineers at the University of Liverpool have built a Meccano bridge to span part of a canal in Merseyside.

About 100,000 pieces of real Meccano were used and it took 1,100 man hours to build, organisers said.

The bridge will move with a nine metre beam sliding into place like a canal lock gate and a 12m section dropping like a drawbridge.

The construction was being filmed at Liverpool's Pier Head on Saturday.

The item will form part of James May's new TV series, 'James May's Toy Stories', which makes life-size constructions with some of Britain's best-loved toys.

Students have been responsible for the construction of the bridge with help from the North East Meccano Guild.

James May
James May is recording a TV series about childhood construction toys

Dr Tim Short, from the University of Liverpool, said: "We've taken inspiration from James May, the design proposal from the architecture students and the design drawings from Atkins, added an enormous amount of Meccano and created a bridge that is unique and impressive."

He added: "It is fitting that Meccano has been brought back to Liverpool as the city was home to Meccano for more than 70 years until the Binns Road 'Factory of Dreams' in Wavertree was finally closed in 1979."

The bridge design was engineered by Hayden Nuttal, Design Director of Atkins Structural Engineering, and is made out of real, half inch-wide Meccano strips, girders and bolts, rather than giant Meccano.

If the total length of Meccano used in the bridge was laid end-to-end it would stretch about three-and-a-half miles.

The bridge has been erected outside the Liver Building on the new Leeds-Liverpool canal extension, which runs from Liverpool's Albert Dock.

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