Engineering students in Belfast set world record with 100ft Meccano bridge
Published 19/09/2015 | 15:19
Engineering students in Belfast have set a world record with a 100ft bridge made from Meccano.
A total of 11,000 pieces of lightweight metal went in to the span across part of the River Lagan.
A Guinness World Records official confirmed it has set a record for the world's largest Meccano construction
Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen's University Belfast strode across it wearing a harness, watched by a crowd of hundreds.
"We are basically training young people, training them to think, training them to dream, but dreaming alone is simply not good enough, you have to take the thing to another stage, you have to deliver at the end of the day."
The bridge over Clarendon Dock was built by a group of third year civil engineering students and school children. It has around 70,000 nuts or bolts.
Dr Danny McPolin from the school of planning, architecture and civil engineering, inspired the year-long project.
Professor Whittaker said many of the young people who had built the bridge had been fascinated by the Meccano toy.
He told onlookers taxpayers had helped fund the construction.
The academic added: "What you are investing in is the future of our society, without education, without training young people, without exploiting their talents we simply will not have the structures that we have.
"Something like civil engineering has basically shaped all of civilisation, all society that is around us."
The bridge was declared open by Meccano's new Meccanoid Robot, t hen P rofessor Whittaker put on a harness, suspended from a crane over the Belfast dock, and stepped confidently on to the slender structure.
He said: "It is easy to build structures massively strong, with masses of metal in them. Meccano is also metal, it is very light metal, it is a toy.
"A lot of engineers have probably grown to like engineering through playing with toys like Meccano."
Meccano was a model construction system created by Frank Hornby in 1898 and billed as "mechanics made easy".
The toy consists of a range of metal plates and wheels connected using nuts and bolts.
Dr Danny McPolin from the school of planning, architecture and civil engineering, who led the project, said: "In terms of the longer pieces, if they're all laid out end-to-end I think it would be about 3.8 kilometres - approximately 10,000 or 11,000 pieces."
Belfast's Big Bridge Build project is designed to encourage young people into careers in engineering, technology and maths.
It has received funding from Stormont's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Meccano and support from a range of Northern Ireland businesses.
The temporary 600kg structure will now be taken down.