There is a tiny world of wonder and past childhood delights. It is called Pollock’s Toy Museum and it lives on a quiet corner in Fitzrovia, London.
Mainly a collection of Victorian toys, the upstairs museum has dolls, doll houses, teddy bears, tin toys, folk toys, puppets, toy theatres and toys in general from around the world. Some are pretty spooky-looking but I suppose they weren’t at the time they were made, and it’s definitely part of the fun now!
Originally a printing shop dating from the 1850’s in Hoxton, Benjamin Pollock hand printed, constructed and coloured much of the toy theatre material housed in the museum today. Just over a hundred years later, the museum was established north of Oxford Street.
There is a shop on the ground floor and stepping through the door, you immediately enter a very different world to the one on the street. It feels as though you’ve gone back in time or wandered onto a period movie set. There are vintage toys of every kind – masks, tops, jack-in-the-boxes, games, puzzles, books, mobiles, zoetropes, and they are to be found in every nook and cranny. There are lots of nooks and crannies.
Everything in this shop is fantastic (even some rare Star Wars toys have found their way to some shelves). Each item is special and evokes long-forgotten memories (or makes you wish you had some memories about playing with a toy like that).
There is also a Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop in Covent Garden (which you enter after climbing an old narrow staircase!), but the museum with its ground-floor shop is well worth discovering. You feel as though you have the place to yourself and you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face whether you have something in hand or not. At least, I couldn’t.