Museum of the Month: Creepy Dolls at Pollock’s Toy Museum in London

Museum of the Month is a brand new series in which I share my experiences of visiting unique and often strange museums from around the world. My aim is to rebuff the notion that museums are boring!

Pollock's Toy Museum

One of the things I find myself despairing over in today’s world is how reliant we have become on modern technology as a form of entertainment. I look at kids in their prams playing on iPads bigger than their bodies and wonder what has happened to the concept of childhood. As an adult I long for the halcyon days where I played out with the other kids on my street re-enacting scenes from a Walt Disney or Bruce Lee film. The memory of being outdoors and making new friends is perhaps the starting point to why I like travelling so much now; it reminds me of the early years of my life when I was constantly learning and experiencing new things without having to worry about the responsibilities of adulthood.

When I hear about children being addicted to the TV or choosing to stay inside so they can swipe their fingers over their iPads I can’t help feeling we are on the brink of destroying the essence of childhood. It’s not that iPads are directly bad for children but they have indirect consequences – time spent on tablets is even less time spent reading books or playing with friends or talking as a family. Since when did giving a child a teddy bear or a pop-up book become a social faux pas? Because it certainly feels that way by the amount of times I see a child sitting with a mini computer or mobile phone.

All these concerns about the relationship between children and technology were recently heightened by a visit to Pollock’s Toy Museum in London. Visiting was like walking back in time and remembering how things used to be before we became so obsessed with Play Stations and having the latest gadgets (I don’t know what the latest gadgets are so excuse my non-specific references).

Pollocks Toy Museum, Goodge Street

One of my oldest friends, Verity, came to visit me in London and I wanted to take her somewhere a little different so I thought this place was a fun idea. The outside of the museum is colourfully painted and looks more like a sweet shop partially because it’s questionably small, especially for the £6 entrance fee. However, the museum spans across two buildings and it’s filled to the brim with famous puppets like Punch and Judy, and Snooty and Sweep, then there are less well known curiosities like creepy wax dolls which appear to stare at you from across the room like a broken faced Mona Lisa.

Pollocks Toy Museum, London

Although the museum initially appears small you soon discover it’s full of winding, creaky stairs and just when you think you have seen everything, you find another door to push open or another set of stairs to swing down and suddenly the museum appears a whole lot bigger. If there had been a mirror, I would have tried to climb through it – that’s how this museum makes you feel!

Pollock's Toy Museum in London

Pollock's Toy Museum, London

Pollock's Toy Museum, London

I wouldn’t even recommend this museum for children; instead it’s best for adults who want a wistful trip down memory lane. All the toys and dolls are placed behind glass and some of them look like they haven’t had the dust blown off them for a while, this adds to the museum’s charm because it kind of feels like it has been forgotten about. That’s why people should visit, by doing so you’re paying homage to all the fabulous games and toys we had for centuries. These toys are a part of our history and importantly, they are a part of our childhood – if we’re not careful these toys will perish in a world that’s virtualising at a scary speed.

Pollock's Toy Shop in London

Pollocks Toy Shop in London

Pollock's Toy Museum in London

Pollock's Toy Museum

Pollock's Toy Museum in london

Viva Pollock’s Toy Museum!

 

General Information

How to get there: Go to Goodge Street Station and it’s a close walk to 1 Scala Street.
Admission Fee: Adult £6, concession £5, children £3
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm
Website: www.pollockstoymuseum.com

If you should visit, or have already visited then I’d love to know what you think of this place.

 

Comments

  1. Chris Booth says

    Funnily enough I had never heard of this place until Thursday night, when I walked past and pressed my face to the glass. Glad it sounds worth a visit, as it got me wondering/planning…

  2. Mike says

    Finally!! I’ve been wanting one of my blogging community friends to post this and say just what you did, “we are on the brink of destroying the essence of childhood” re: the tech devices. Shing, as a kid I was outside playing all of the time and learning interaction and building relationships. Or learning how to. That can not be done via a computer to translate to the real world. This may be my fav post of your’s yet. Ok sorry, 2nd. The dog sledding still is #1 :) That picture of you needs to be Pinned and Stumbled 10 times over with the essence of your message. Gawd, I loved this our friend! :)

    • admin says

      Haha the dog sledding post will be a difficult one to top! I’m glad you liked the more serious message I was trying to convey, the adverse effects of modern technology is something I struggle with. For all the good it can do, there’s also a huge dark side that children shouldn’t be privy to so early on. Bring back all the toys and dolls, and playing outside, I say!

  3. Ola says

    These dolls look creepy indeed I don’t know why but the one from the second photo reminds me of a situation when I was woken up by a child’s voice in the middle of the night and was absolutely unable to identify it, I started to think I have a ghost in my house but it later on turned out to be a really old toy. Why it decided to speak to me that night I have still no idea.

    But I am getting off topic. I wanted to say that I had this discussion about how childhood looks nowadays with my friends not so long ago and we came to the same conclusions. We are not old at all and the world has changed dramatically since we were children. I live opposite my old elementary school’s playground where we used to play on each day during our summer holiday. For many years now it has been completely empty unless there is a PE lesson. But I think it concerns also us adults – we have moved our lives to the internet and even while seeing with our friends how many of us constantly check the phone and social media? Or rather who doesn’t.

    • admin says

      You have a really old toy that talks to you Ola?! I need to know more!!

      A playground without children playing and shouting seems so sad. Partly, I wonder if this is due to health and safety… schools have become so obsessed with rules and regulations at the detriment of enjoyment. But I guess we are a product of our age.

      I agree with you about how it concerns us adults too. A reason the internet was invented was to encourage social interaction but we misuse in a terrible way.

      • Ola says

        Maybe not literally ‘talking to me’ but it was an old mascot that speaks with a child’s voice when squeezed. I made a little investigation and most probably there must have been some sort of short circut caused by a wet tea bag in the bin (I threw the mascot away a few days earlier). I feel I had to make it clear as after reading my comment once more I sound like a lunatic even to myself. So, no my old toys do not talk to me ;)

  4. Si @ Man vs World says

    I used to work just around the corner from this museum and for years I wanted to visit it but never did. I wish I had – but at least now thanks to this blog post I finally know what it’s like! That doll with the cut up face gives me the creeps.

    • admin says

      The doll with the cracked face gives me the creeps too. It looks amazing, but not something I’d want staring at me from my bedroom shelf! Eerie!

  5. Tiffany says

    The dolls are quite creepy but very cool!
    Most of my life I grew up with technology for entertainment, but I do remember the days when I played with toys/dolls. Brings back fond memories.

    Great blog btw :)

    • admin says

      Hi Tiffany! Glad to read this post made you feel nostalgic! Thanks for the compliment re: blog, I’ve just checked out yours – you’ve got some great travel posts from London and Copenhagen. Two cities I love!

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