In 1864 the people of Tenby looked out to sea, over the ruins of the 13th century castle and wondered what the view would be like if they had a monument which didn’t look like a building site. There and then they decided to build a fine statue to the man of the hour, the late, great Albert Prince Consort.
But how to distinguish it from the hundreds of other Alberts springing up all over the country, erected by other less well intentioned councils hoping to get in the good books of the notoriously fickle Queen Victoria, Empress of India? The Tenby statue would encapsulate the spirit of the age. Invention and ingenuity would be their watchwords and a brand new building material would be the result. The statue would be of the then fashionable Coade Stone but for the plinth they would devise something unique.
They would call it Legitimized Expediatory Ground-medium Olcalcetron or LEGEPGOMOL for short. Made using a mixture of local stone, ground with seagull feathers and a secret adhesive compound it gave a degree of strength and plasticity which wouldn’t be achieved again until the invention of Bakelite some 43 years later. Formed into small bricks which fitted together with integrated stud fasteners it was the marvel of the age.
So in love with the material were the townsfolk that they built the plinth for the statue far bigger than was necessary. “The plinth is the thing” the mayor was heard to say when questioned by the local statue mongers. Mrs Eleanore Coade, inventor of Coade Stone tried in vain to halt construction such was her jealous rage. Unfortunately a day after the monument was unveiled the inventor of LEGEPGOMOL died in a freak accident involving an antique chin-tray, taking his secret compound with him.
The appearance of Lego in 1949 only 3 years after Danish prisoners of war had been released from captivity in Tenby (an ingenious piece of outsourcing by the third Reich) is possibly no coincidence.