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Pollock's Toy Museum
1 Scala Street
Camden Town, W1T 2HL
+44 (0) 207 636 3452

Closest station: Goodge Street

Opening times:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm

Prices: £6 entrance fee; £5 concessions

Pollock's: London's toy museum

Hidden in Fitzrovia, one of London's busiest districts and less than a five-minute walk from Oxford Street, lies Pollock's Toy Museum.

But don't be fooled by the name, this toy museum is not for kids. In fact, it's mostly nostalgic and curious adults such as myself that come here. Children are likely to be put off by the eerie porcelain dolls and the many toys they don't recognise.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman, the museum transports visitors to a bygone era. I remember when I was young (not so long ago I might add), and kids had to use their imaginations and creativity to play instead of mindlessly spending their energy in front of screens and pushing buttons.

Inside

Pollock's is chockfull with old figurines, board games, rocking horses, trains, puppets, paper theatres, teddy bears and more. It is mostly early 20th century toys, but there are some older treasures to be found as well, including an Egyptian clay mouse dated as early as 2000 BC.

The layout of the museum is half its charm. Pollock's spans over two period townhouses, complete with a creaky staircase that snakes around the house through musty rooms and attic lofts.

Weaving through the labyrinth of rooms, I nostalgically promenade back in time and I am reminded of what it was like to cherish toys and how those toys could take you on whatever journeys your imagination could conjure up.

Famous supporters in the past

The museum has been around since 1956 and in its current location since the 70s. But the history of Pollock's dates back much further. In the 19th century, Benjamin Pollock was the last of the Victorian Toy Theatre printers.

The shop was well known back in its heyday, helped in part when famous author Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) wrote in an essay, 'If you love art, folly, or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock's!'

Charlie Chaplin was a customer and Sergei Diaghilev, founder of Ballets Russes, was supposedly inspired by the place.

But after Pollock's death, the shop went steadily into decline until 1954 when Marguerite Fawdry bought up the stock of Benjamin Pollock Ltd., after trying to buy a small item for her son's toy theatre.

Family-run business

Eddy Fawdry, Marguerite's grandson, now runs the museum and its quaint shop. Eddy used to go into the shop when he was younger and one of his favourite toys (a rickety red bus that he used to ride around on) is now on display – but not for sale of course.

Much of the exhibit is dusty and in need of a good clean or an upgrade. "I'd like to put in slightly later toys," Eddy who grew up in the 70s, tells me "but there isn't much room."

Eddy isn't exaggerating – the museum is stuffed with toys crammed into every corner of every room, and even lining the walls along the staircase. But then again, the shabby-chic vibe is part of Pollock's charm.

Visitors can go straight to the shop if they like, and skip the museum. The shop is filled with jack-in-the-boxes, board games, stuffed animals, miniature cars and more modern toys.

Highlights of the museum include Eric, the world's oldest teddy bear, and the many space toys that were made before space travel even existed.

For anyone who wants to reconnect with their inner child or looking for an alternative history lesson, speed to Pollock's!

Alexia Dellner