Pollock's Toy Museum
by Wendy Gater
I visited Pollock's Toy Museum last year with my friend, the museum is situated at: 1 Scala Street, London W1T 2HL. We had in the morning visited The V & A Museum and were looking for another venue to visit in the afternoon to complete our "day out". I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the museum and I would highly recommend it for an outing if ever in the vicinity.
Pollocks Toy Museum takes its name from Benjamin Pollock, the last of the Victorian Toy Theatre printers. Set up by Marguerite Fawdry who bought up the stock of Benjamin Pollock Ltd., after trying to buy one small item for her son’s toy theatre. Originally at Monmouth Street, near Covent Garden, the present museum has been at Scala Street since 1969. Nearly every kind of toy imaginable turns up here from all over the world and from all different time periods. It’s a fascinating exhibition of toy theatres, teddy bears, wax and china dolls, board games, optical toys, folk toys, nursery furniture, mechanical toys and doll’s houses.
Pollock’s Toy Museum occupies two houses joined together in the heart of Fitzrovia, one 18th century, one 19th; the rooms are small and connected by narrow winding staircases. The whole place exudes atmosphere and evocations of those special times of childhood. Every corner is filled with visual delights and no matter which direction you look new surprises are there to behold.
The collection includes Board Games, Optical, mechanical and construction toys, English tin toys; puppets,Wax and composition dolls, Teddy bears, lead miniatures, doll’s houses, Folk toys from Europe, Dolls of china, wood, fabric, celluloid. Tableau: 1900 young girls’ nursery1, English dolls; folk toys from around the world. Toy theatres. Tableau: 19c. toy theatre workshop and Pollock’s Toyshop.
There are Traditional and Folk toys from Central and South America including Katchina dolls made for Pollock's in 1965 by Walter Coin, a Hopi Indian.
There are a selection of Edwardian table games c1900, also a large Rocking Horse which was made in England and sold in London in 1840.
Also included is a range of Toy Theatres from around the world, including German, French and American models. The Toy Theatre was a popular toy in Victorian times, when children would have put on performances of popular plays running at the time including Aladdin, Cinderella and Black Beard the Pirate. The theatre and plays would have been bought in sheets and cut out and pasted up at home. One of the best known suppliers of toy theatre material was "Pollocks" in Hoxton, after whom the museum is named.
There is a collection of wax dolls, the oldest doll dates to 1822, her companion crossed the Rockies in a wagon in the 19th century and returned 100 years later.
There are Dolls Houses from the mid 1800's, they give an excellent idea of taste , from Classical Villa to French Mansion to Stockbroker Tudor.
In the girl's nursery c1900, the room is devoted to Dolls made of china, wood, rag and celluloid, also includes two German dolls dressed in "Pearly" costumes. In the 1900's each London borough had it's Pearly King and Queen. The flamboyant costume was developed by Cockney costermongers to assist in raising funds for charity.
There is also a cupboard of Edwardian tea sets, a case of dolls, prams and farm carts with "Dutch" dolls made in the Grodnertal until 1914 and once imported here in huge quantities.
Pollocks Toy Museum receives no outside funding, it is entirely supported by its visitors' contributions.