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The history begins in 1856 in Hoxton, an area of London bordered by the wealth of the City and the poverty of the East End. This is where Benjamin Pollock was born. At this time the toy theatre trade was flourishing in Covent Garden's Theatreland. By the time Benjamin Pollock had married Eliza Redington and inherited her father's Theatrical Print Warehouse, the toy theatre trade had been overshadowed by new fangled novelties such as magic lanterns, gramophones and the wireless.
However Mr Pollock, in his dark and dusty shop in Hoxton, carried on supplying theatrical sheets costing a penny plain and twopence coloured. His customers were local children aspiring to the stage or city gents nostalgic for their childhood as well as actors of the larger stage such as Charlie Chaplin. Pollock, although not the most innovative producer of Juvenile Drama, was the most amiable and diligent.
When Robert Louis Stevenson went to visit Webb, a rival of Pollock, he found him disagreeable and after an argument went down the road to Pollock's shop and was so delighted with him he immortalised him in an essay 'If you love art, folly or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock's'.
After his death in 1937 the business was kept going by various parties but was revitalised in the 1960s when Marguerite Fawdry tried to purchase some character slides for her son's toy theatre. She ended up buying the whole stock of slides and printing plates and subsequently opened her museum in London's Fitzrovia which still exists. It was to delight further generations of children as well as the actors, art students, collectors of toys and those who just like to be reminded of the inventive novelties of childhood.
Peter Baldwin was one of the many people who visited the museum and could not keep away. In 1980 Mrs Fawdry opened a second small shop on the first floor of the newly renovated Covent Garden market. Peter Baldwin became manager and took over the business in 1988 with his brother Christopher. And so the Baldwin brothers continued the tradition in its native home. Now co-owner Louise Heard runs Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop with Manager Simon Seddon, the shop continues to appeal to the wide range of young and old that it has always done.
So please do come and visit our shop if you are ever in London, where we have as well as our theatres, lots more traditional toys for pocket money spenders to those wishing to spend their money on more expensive frivolities which will bring much happiness!