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WESTMINSTER PEOPLE: Eddy Fawdry, owner of Pollock’s Toy Museum

"I think people still like traditional stuff - it’s like an antidote from the digital world"

24 February, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Eddy Fawdry at the museum in Fitzrovia

AROUND 4,000 toys fill a series of atmospheric rooms, linked by winding staircases, in two historic townhouses on a corner in Fitzrovia.

From a case full of Victorian dolls, to an Egyptian clay mouse from 2000 BC, donated by an archeologist, there are toys spanning centuries, from all over the world at Pollock’s Toy Museum in Scala Street. It’s a place that has been in Eddy Fawdry’s family for generations.

The original shop was opened in Hoxton around 1850 by Benjamin Pollock, who made toy theatres. The building was bombed during the Second World War but luckily, the stock had been removed beforehand and survived.

“My grandmother Marguerite bought the stock and set the shop up again in Covent Garden, Monmouth Street in Seven Dials,” says Eddy.

As people donated more toys and the collection grew, Marguerite opened more rooms, incorporating the toy shop with a museum, until they outgrew the space, and moved to Fitzrovia.

Eddy, 49, first started helping out at the museum in his summer holidays when he was young. After spending some time working as a photographer in Scotland, and later living in Australia, he returned to run Pollock’s full time 10 years ago.

It is still as popular as ever. “I think people still like traditional stuff,” he says. “It’s like an antidote from the digital world.”

The building’s nostalgic vibe is part of the attraction. With slanted, creaky wooden floors and low ceilings, it sometimes feels like the ground is moving beneath you. Haggis, the Westie-poodle, who plods around the house following Eddy, is also rather popular with visitors.

The collection holds Russian dolls, Chinese and Japanese toys, Victorian rocking horses and all manner of simple wooden toys, from a ball-in-a-cup to spinning tops. Eddy’s own model London bus sits alongside toy theatres, dolls houses and optical toys. In one room, hundreds of beady-eyed dolls stare at visitors from behind a glass cabinet in a somewhat unnerving manner.

Eddy admits he used to find them a little unsettling. “I did used to get a little creeped out in this room but I’m used to it now. One visitor told me she suffers from Scopophobia, which means you don’t like people looking at you.

“So she just came in here and freaked out.” There is even an original Sooty, Sweep and Sue hand puppet set on display. “My grandma and her husband used to work for the BBC”, Eddy explains.

Black and white photos demonstrate what the original shop once looked like, displayed in a room filled with the traditional toy theatres that Pollock’s original store was once most famous for. “You would get a play to perform in the theatre, with characters, sets and a script. You can always use your imagination and embellish it,” he says. “We’ve had actors come in who say they had a toy theatre as a kid.” When Mr Pollock made them, “they were printed black and white and then hand-painted by his wife and daughters”.

The store had their fair share of famous visitors – Helena Bonham Carter, Angelina Jolie and even David Bowie once paid a visit, Eddy says. But the enduring appeal? He adds: “Well, everyone was a kid once, everyone had toys.”

 

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