When Sir Alec Issigonis retired from British Leyland Cars, he received a No.10 Meccano Set as his parting gift. Some two years after the closure of the Liverpool factory, Airfix was still marketing Meccano and they sponsored a trophy, in consultation with Sir Alec, for a Meccano Model Building Competition at the Christmas Model Engineering Exhibition in London. The trophy was designed and inscribed as the SIR ALEC ISSIGONIS MECCANO SHIELD. Alan Partridge was the original winner of the trophy in 1981, but with the collapse of Airfix’s U.K Meccano operation, the trophy went into limbo for a couple of years. Since 1983 it has been the annual award supplemented by sponsored gift vouchers from M.W.Models, Henley, at the Skegness Meccano Exhibition. (Bert Love - Society of Advanced Meccano Constructors – Skegness Meccano Exhibition 1985) (meccanoscotland.org).
The North Midlands Meccano Club's Skegness Exhibition is arguably the world's largest and most representative Meccano Exhibition. As such, the Issigonis Shield is a prized trophy. At first, the NMMG designated leading model builders and previous winners to judge the competition, but more recently this process has become more democratic with all attendees at Skegness casting their votes.
It was my great honour to be awarded first prize for the Issigonis Shield in 1988 and it is my most treasured Meccano possession. The model I built for this competition, was a Navigation Clock inspired by John Harrison's first Navigation Clock on display at the Royal Observatory at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This impetus and interest which this model inspired led on to a series of clocks which I subsequently designed and built.
At the same exhibition, I displayed alongside the clock, a scale model of an Asea Industrial Robot, which also led to a series of robot building projects.
Michael Adler with his Navigation Clock and the Issigonis Shield
Navigation Clock and Industrial Robot
With Bert Love at the 1988 Skegness Exhibition
The John Harrison Navigation Clock at home in its glass case.