Ownership, fame and featured toys
On this site we will explore in images and text the history and story of Pollock's Toy Museum. This site is an archive, visual reference and resource only. The museum at Scala Street is now permanently closed due to the exhibits having been removed and put in storage. Click on the links below to see some more images of the museum.
The buildings that contained the museum were purchased by Marguerite Fawdry in the 1960's. The buildings were left to her two grandsons, Felix Fawdry and Eddy Fawdry. The buildings have always been owned by the Fawdry family never a corporate landlord or other such entity.
A teddy bear is a stuffed toy in the form of a bear. Developed apparently simultaneously by toymakers in the U.S. and the Steiff company in Germany.
The name teddy bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who was often referred to as "Teddy".
The name originated from an incident on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902. They caught a Black Bear but Roosevelt refused to shoot it. It became the topic of a political cartoon in the Washington Post.
Morris Michtom saw the cartoon of Roosevelt with the bear and was inspired to create a teddy bear. He created a tiny soft bear cub and put it in his candy shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn with a sign "Teddy's bear." The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.
History of Pollock's and the Toy Theatre Business
This site is about the history of the museum and the theatrical print and toy theatre business in general. It will also include some history of toys and toy manufactures. The aim of this site is to present the facts as they are. Please be aware there is "information" about the museum on the internet which is either incorrect or misleading.
Eric Elgin of Enfield produced a rather nice range of superior-quality dark brown "Old English" wooden furniture with a distinctively-turned pattern to the legs which also appeared in other parts of some pieces.
Elgin originally sold the furniture himself, circa ~1919 (with the mark ELGIN / ENFIELD stamped into the base), but started supplying pieces to Lines Brothers without his maker's stamp. Lines Brothers described it in 1923 as "Old English Style" "Period Scale Model Doll Furniture", which anticipates the wording used on Triang's later ranges in the 1930s, which used Period as an explicit trademark.
Elgin continued to make the furniture for Tri-ang until 1926, after which Tri-ang took over production themselves.
The toys that were on show in the museum were collected and displayed by Marguerite Fawdry, with help from a small team of staff and friends. The collection consisted mainly of items purchased by Marguerite , given by friends to her, and a small amount of gifts from the public. Later a very small amount of items were given by Marguerite to a charitable trust to be held in trust but remain on show in Pollock's Toy Museum. When Marguerite died the vast majority of the collection was inherited by her son, John Fawdry. In January 2023 Alan Powers decided, without any warning, to remove the small amount of items belonging to the charitable trust. But without our knowledge or permission, he also removed all the items belonging to John Fawdry and the limited company. This property was moved and put into his own private storage and house. The museum could not stay open without the exhibits, which is why the museum is now permanently closed.
TRIANG GYRO CYCLE - Made by Tri-ang (Lines Brothers) in England in the 1930s, this superb and very clever toy is made of celluloid, pressed steel, and printed tinplate. It measures nearly 8" long and comprises a celluloid cyclist astride a pressed steel bicycle with printed tin wheels. This toy works on the same principle as a gyroscope such that, when a string is wound round the mechanism on the side of the front wheel and pulled sharply, the cyclist will pedal furiously forward until it runs out of momentum and topples over.
Famous visitors to the museum have included Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Angelina Jolie, Terry Gilliam, Helena Bonham Carter and many more....The original Pollock's shop was visited by Charlie Chaplin and Robert Louis Stevenson among others
Wells Brimtoy George VI Coronation Coach and Horses - produced as a special edition in 1937. This toy is made of tin plate which has been colour printed and was made in the Wells Brimtoy factory in Walthamstow, London.
Brimtoy were one of the UK's first tin-plate toy manufacturers who broke the German stranglehold on the market, having been started by Alfred Wells in 1923.
Born Marguerite Desnieres in 1912, the daughter of a Breton father and an English mother. She went to school at the Lycee in South Kensington and studied at the University of Lille. In 1935 she joined the theatre studio of Michel St Denis but worked in journalism before the Second World War took her into the French Section of the BBC and the Press Office of General de Gaulle. In 1942 she married Kenneth Fawdry, a schoolmaster, whom she had first met on a train from Florence to Rome. Their son John was born during the war. After leaving the BBC she set up and created the Pollock's Toy Museum which she ran until her death in 1995. Before its recent closure the museum had been run by her son John, then her grandson Eddy and latterly her great grandson Jack. (Jill was busy doing other things)
Dinky Toys were produced by the British toy company Meccano Ltd. They were made in England from 1934 to 1979, at a factory in Binns Road, Liverpool. Dinky toys were among the most popular die-cast vehicles ever made. Frank Hornby was the mastermind behind Meccano Ltd which he set up in 1908 to produce the now famous metal construction sets.
1 into 3
In its heyday (1970-80's) Pollock's was run as 1 enterprise, consisting of 3 elements. The museum and its shop in Scala Street and a shop at 44 The Market Covent Garden.
Just to confuse you Pollock's is now 3 separate businesses.(mostly minding their own business)
1. Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop at 44 The Market Covent Garden.
An active business consisting of an independent toy shop and internet mail order business. They can be found here: pollocks-coventgarden.co.uk
2. Pollock's Toy Theatres Ltd
The original toy theatre printing and publishing company. Currently not trading but still just about extant.
3. Pollock's Toy Museum Trust
Now responsible for the storage and display of the collection. However the collection is not on display as it is in a self storage unit in King's Cross.
This Egyptian clay mouse is easily the oldest toy in the museum, by thousands of years. The oldest playthings are things found in nature such as a stick or round pebble. Toys and games today use what could be considered a refined type of stick (bagaatelle, hockey, snooker) to hit a ball (pebble). Basically hitting a round object with a stick. Clay or mud was probably the first material to be used to form a scaled down human (doll) or this clay mouse from the banks of the Nile.
In the Red
The company has always lead a precarious existence, the enterprise being run as a Trading Company, Pollock's Toy Theatres Ltd. The original business established in Hoxton dates back to around 1850. The shop was hit by a bomb in the war, but the business survived and was taken over by Alan Keen, an antiquarian book dealer. He set the business up in a much more prestigious location just off the Strand, he created new designs and products but went bankrupt in fine style. Marguerite Fawdry then took over and in a stroke of genius added the toy museum to the shop. She had created a business that appealed to a wider audience, not just toy theatre enthusiasts. Her choice of premises off Seven Dials near Covent Garden, was at the time a bit run down but central and near the theatre district. So something of a mix of cheap rent but still central. (Take note Mr Keen ) Funny enough, the bottom line is that trying to sell and promote a toy that went out of fashion 100 years ago is not going to make you rich.