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Which special items are in the spotlight at the moment? Also check here to find out about our temporary exhibitions.
Our Meccano cabinet has always been one of our star attractions but recently it has been through something of a facelift. With many rare and interesting items added, the display now gives a fantastic overview of the many facets of this long running toy. Started in 1908, as we know it, and still in production today, Meccano has proven it’s appeal to many generations of children and when you look at the wide range of products on offer over the years it’s easy to see why. While it’s heyday was certainly in the 1930s, the name is still a very recognizable trademark and one of the success stories of the UK toy industry.
From the more common boxed sets of building materials through to the esoteric electrical and chemical sets, Meccano had something for almost everyone.
The heart of the museum is the central 1930s gauge 0 model railway layout. Twice the size of most modern model railways, “gauge 0” was the dominant scale in use between World War One and World War Two. Its large size meant that a large house (or a loft!) was usually required for a full layout, limiting the number of people who could ever own one.
This period townscape display captures the mood and styling of the 1930s in miniature, and is almost entirely assembled from original 1930s toys and accessories, from the stations and advertising and working street lamps to the painted lead passengers and pedestrians in contemporary dress, to the bridges and 1930s clockwork Minic road traffic. Built in a period in which expensive toys were handmade like pieces of jewellery, the scene also crams in around sixty period model locomotives and over a hundred and thirty pieces of rolling stock.
Up above the public areas is a squadron of large-scale radio-controlled model aircraft including biplanes, triplanes and helicopters, the largest being a quarter-scale WW2 Spitfire.
What’s more amazing than the models themselves is the fact that every one of them has actually been flown. These are working models not just works of engineering art!
Our Corgi Toys display was extended last year with a second cabinet, prompting a stream of die-cast fans to make the pilgrimage to the museum to see the displays of Corgi, Dinky, Budgie and Spot-On (and Hornby Dublo).
The museum’s guest collections include a display of soft toys from a major collector, including pieces by Steiff, Deans Rag Book, Farnell and Schuco.
Along with the expected bears, rabbits, dogs and cats, you’ll be amazed at the array of creatures turned into ‘cuddly’ toys and indeed what use some of these furry friends were used for..