Hidden away in a warren of side streets, two old creaky buildings are home to one of the delights of London, a curiously old fashioned toy museum.
Named after Benjamin Pollock, who married into a family that was already printing, and he diverted into making toy theatres for sale in homes, which for many years kept the firm going, but in the 1950s, the firm finally closed down.
Then a few years later, the BBC journalist Marguerite Fawdry wanted a spare part for her son’s toy theatre, and ended up buying the entire business, opened up the shop again, and started the original toy museum.
To step inside then is to step back in time, to a world of old cabinets and creaky floorboards, of narrow doors and iron fireplaces, of wonders and delights. A pamphlet is handed to visitors, and the contents are replicated on small boards in each room, which explains the core themes of each of the displays.
While the collection, mostly Victorian and Edwardian toys are a delight to visit, what makes a visit such a pleasure is how the museum is structured. In that, it is barely structured at all. Cases fill every little corner and space that can be found. Look up and see things in dim recesses, peer down and find objects cowering under the cabinets. Staircases are barely wide enough to walk down thanks to more cabinets on the walls packed full of things to look at.
Old teddy bears, tin plate cars, plastic soldiers, lead battleships, wax dolls, cardboard games, and theatres, oh so many wonderful theatres all over the place.
Some rooms are decorated, most are not. Look closely and you see two old building propping each other up and probably giving a professional curator a mild sense of panic. Yet that’s the delight. A museum can be overly sanitized, with the dedication of preserving rare objects.
Pollocks is not sanitized at all.
To visit Pollocks isn’t to visit a museum, it’s more than that, it’s a visit inside your grandparent’s memories as they dream of their childhood.
The museum is open Mon-Sat and entry is £7 for adults or £4 for children.