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£61,100 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to research the history of Scalextric

£61,100 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to research the history of Scalextric 6 June 2016

Press Release

The story of the Hampshire origins of one of Britain’s favourite toys is to be recorded and celebrated thanks to a £61,100 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Scalextric, the iconic motor racing game beloved by generations of children, was invented in Havant by Fred Francis sixty years ago. From 1956 until the early 1970s, thousands of hand painted cars, controllers and miles of track were produced in Havant, initially in a factory in New Lane and later in bigger premises in Leigh Park.

The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, supported by a grant from The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, now has the opportunity to research and record the history of the factory and its workers, enabling this local success story to be celebrated in the town.

The grant will fund the creation of a professional documentary film featuring interviews with former factory workers and tracing the development of the company, which was originally called Minimodels Ltd and manufactured clockwork toy cars.

The documentary film will feature as part of a temporary exhibition in The Spring’s mezzanine, to run later this year. An interactive exhibit will also be created to enable the story of Minimodels to be recorded permanently in the borough’s museum. A booklet featuring the memories of the factory workers will also be compiled.

Another aspect of the project will bring together older and younger generations to share their experiences of play. A series of workshops will be delivered to children at Trosnant Junior School in Leigh Park, allowing Year 6 pupils to find out more about toys from the 1950s and learn about their town’s heritage.  A second short documentary film will record this part of the project and an educational resource focusing on the development of Scalextric and the story of its heyday in Havant will also be created for the borough’s primary schools.

Sophie Fullerlove, director of the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, said: “We are excited to be given the opportunity to celebrate Havant’s role in an internationally renowned success story and are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for backing the project. We will feature Scalextric as a theme for our open day on October 2nd and are also planning to run a number of activities for young people centred around the brand.”

Did you work at Minimodels?

Fred Francis arrived in Havant when his company, Minimodels Ltd, relocated from London to bigger premises in 1952 to meet the growing demand for clockwork toy cars. By 1956, the future of Minimodels was under threat as sales plummeted, prompting Fred to look at ways of reviving the company’s fortunes. He experimented with putting small electric motors in the cars and running them on model railways tracks. Scalextric was born and unveiled to acclaim at the Harrogate Toy Fair in 1957. Did you work at either of the Minimodels factories in New Lane or Leigh Park? Do you have a story to tell? If you would like to record your memories of working for the company during the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us by email at or drop your name, address and telephone number into the box office at The Spring, East Street, Havant. Please clearly mark your envelope Scalextric Memories.


About the Heritage Lottery Fund:

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.
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For further information, contact Steve Murray, Trustee of The Spring and Heritage Centre, at or call 07776 185976.