In a dimly lit Victorian building with rickety staircases, the china dolls and tin soldiers sit patiently on dusty shelves awaiting their visitors. The toy theatres of the 1800’s, an all but forgotten craft that required intricate printing plates and lovingly constructed characters are displayed as if they never fell out of favor.
The Pollock’s Toy Museum is named after Benjamin Pollock, one of the last printers in the toy theatre trade. A hugely popular pastime of the 1800’s, people enjoyed assembling the craft kits that would unfold into their favorite stage plays, and allow them to reenact those performances at home with their families. In the 19th century, stage theatre began to shift into formats that didn’t lend themselves easily to the toy theatre, and they fell out of favor.
Dedicated to preserving and appreciating the lost art of toy theatre, as well as all other types of antique playthings, the 100 year old toy shop turned museum is now housed in two adjacent buildings that serve as a retail shop as well. The displays, while appropriate for all ages, are not for those easily disturbed by leering string puppets or glass-eyed baby dolls.
Know Before You Go
It's easily accessible and a short walk from Oxford Street, take the back side street for less foot traffic. Admission is 7 pounds, slightly cheaper for concessions and students. Make sure you get the handy walk through map, it will guide you through what is in each of the rooms! There is also a Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop in Covent Garden that sells various Toy Theatre ephemera and other amusement related items. By Underground : Goodge Street, Warren Street, Euston Square, Tottenham Court RoadBy Rail : Kings Cross, Euston, St. Pancras