“If you love art, folly or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock’s” – Robert Louise Stevenson
Quaint, quirky and utterly charming, the Pollocks Toy Museum is located on a side street near London’s Goodge Street tube station. The museum looks deceptively tiny from the outside but once inside, each dark, winding, creaking staircase takes you to the next level until at the very end, you find yourself at the bottom instead of at the top. Or maybe I was too enchanted with this museum to notice whether the stairs were leading up or down. Which seems to be the case as is very apparent from this map of museum. The museum consists of two buildings – one built in 1880 and the other in 1780.
The museum has been in existence since 1969 and takes its name from Benjamin Pollock, who was a Victorian toy theatre printer. The toy theatres were created for children’s plays and look exactly like the real thing, all of them intricately decorated complete with trap doors and windows. The theatres were bought as sheets of paper, cut and then glued together at home.
The museum contains dolls, doll houses, rocking horses, jigsaw puzzles, board games, teddies and even some scientific toys from all corners of the world from various time periods. This large rocking horse was made in England and sold in London in 1840.
The doll houses are absolute works of art with a fascinating level of details in each one of them. These were built in mid 1800s and are of different types ranging from the villa to the French mansion and the Tudor cottage. Splendid with every tiny detail including the scales and weights used, is this replica of a grocer’s shop (second picture on the right).
One thing that we did notice about every doll’s house was that the toilet and bathroom were missing in almost all of them. Until we came across this one – a pink bathtub and a commode complete with a flush and a cistern. There was even a cat with her very tiny kittens loitering around outside this one.
A girl’s nursery in around 1900 full of various dolls (some of them in frilly nighties) was another interesting exhibit. Dolls here have been made with wood, rags and china and some even made with glazed bread dough.
We saw this pretty jigsaw piece. Reminiscent of the toy forts that are created in India during Diwali, there is also a German toy fort dated 1910.
These toy soldiers belonged to EM Foster and were gifted to the museum by the trustee of his estate Professor Sprott when he found them in Foster’s room at King’s College.
There is also an unusual ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board printed in Devnagri script.
There are no computer screens here nor any interactive elements. In fact children cannot even touch the toys as they (the toys) are extremely fragile but guess what? The children seem to be as fascinated as the adults with this one and at 7£ per ticket, it is well worth it.
Official Website: http://www.pollockstoymuseum.com/index.html