From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

"Placeholder" and "default" text for rewriting and improvement:

  • Add more city/country info.
  • More stress on the human stories behind the toys.
  • ~100-150 words per section.
  • Lead-in is Chris. Lead-out is about the museum's official certification, charitable status, address, Web addresses (limited social media?), (street map?), reliance on volunteers, shop sales, ticket sales, donations and _bequests_ (NB). Back flap includes additional tear-out form (call to action). Preserving the culture of the first half of the C20th as a dreamworld. Or something.

Front and back pages

Chris Littledale and Brighton Toy and Model Museum

(The World in Miniature? History in Miniature? ???)

Meccano Ltd

Frank Hornby (1863-1936) grew up around a Liverpool Docks saturated with Victorian engineering, including railway locomotives, dock cranes, steamships and bridges. Working as a clerk, and determined to find an easier way to make metal toys for his children, Hornby patented his new construction toy system in 1901 with the help of a loan of five pounds from his employer, David Elliott. The original "Mechanics Made Easy" sets from Elliott & Hornby were renamed "Meccano" in around 1908 with the creation of a new limited company, Meccano Ltd, and a huge new factory on Binns Road, Liverpool. Meccano became an international phenomenon, and Meccano Ltd. grew to become the biggest toymaker in the UK.

The company went on to produce Hornby Trains in ~1920, Dinky Toys in 1934, and Hornby Dublo in 1938.

ANGLED CRANE VIEW ... Meccano cabinet ... Meccano Lantern ... Meccano steam engines ... Hornby prototype ... Dublo ... grey box

1930s gauge 0 model railway layout


1930s gauge 0 model railway layout

The 1930s "gauge 0" layout is the museum's beating heart, and represents a lifetime's work collecting and preserving classic trains and accessories. The layout incorporates trains, buildings and rolling stock from Bassett-Lowke, Bing, Georges Carette, Edward Exley, Hornby, JEP, and Märklin, and over sixty early clockwork Tri-ang Minic tinplate road vehicles.

The layout was originally displayed by Chris at the British Engineerium in Hove, and moved to the current location in the early 1990s to become became the core of the museum.

Coronation streamliner ... Marklin interior ... JEP station ... bridge ... station closeup ... Minic

Radio Controlled Aircraft

The museum's overhead area features a set of twelve large flying radio-controlled aircraft built by Denis Hefford, ranging from World War One biplanes to a Vulcan Bomber. Denis was a professional modelmaker who co-built the model of London's South Bank for the "Festival of Britain" in 1951. He also built the large five-inch gauge "Stirling Single" locomotive that greets visitors to Arch Two.

The quarter-scale and one-sixth-scale Spitfires in the lobby were built by Ken Manley and Robert Brown.

The three large helicopters were built by Gordon Bowd, including the massive twin-rotor twin-engined Kamov, which was probably the only working model of its type in the world. Gordon wrote to the Russian factory for the plans ... during the Cold War ... and received them with a note from a fellow-engineer saying that he'd never be able to build it.

Arch Four ... Arch Two ... Kamov ... rotors ... closeup

Punch and Judy


Märklin started out in 1859 as a husband and wife team, with Theodor Märklin (1817-1866) making working spirit-burning toy kitchen accessories in his new workshop in Göppingen, Germany, and Caroline Märklin (1826–1893) roaming Europe as a sales rep. By the early 1890s the family's second generation (as Gebr. Märklin & Cie.) had absorbed fellow toymaker Lutz and invented standardised model track, inventing the modern model railway as we know it.

In 1911 the company built a new six-storey factory on Stuttgarter Strasse that was reckoned to be the largest toy factory in the world.

The Golden Age of Märklin (represented in the museum) extends to the end of the 1930s. Märklin design after World War Two focused more on precision and exactness, but the earlier pieces had a dreamlike, toyish quality that is difficult to reproduce.

COOKER ... Cock O' the North ... red Mercedes ... plane ... Mountain Etat? ... Der Adler? ... small station ...

Puppets and Toy Theatres

Punch and Judy has its origins in the Sixteenth Century Italian Commedia dell'arte, whose travelling troupes of actors put on shows incorporating acrobatics and slapstick comedy, and included the character Pulcinella. Many countries have their own local traditional "puppet" versions, "Punch" appeared in London puppet shows as far back as the Seventeenth Century and later became a favourite at British seaside resorts.

Toy theatres became a popular European pastime in the C19th with the production of printed colour paper backdrops and cutout figures.

Pelham Puppets was founded by Bob Pelham after World War Two and exported its range of marionettes worldwide. Pelham's designs emphasised visual appeal and simplicity, with early production relying heavily on creatively repurposed army surplus materials.

Theatre 1 ... Theatre 2 ... dollhead ... box ... ??? ... ???

Dollhouses and Dollhouse Furniture

Early dollhouses were not always designed for children, and early examples were used by the Lady of the House to experiment with furnishings and room layouts. They were also often not meant for dolls - they were "doll houses" (or "toy" houses), rather than doll's houses, and were inhabited by the owners' imaginations rather than by miniature figures. The most famous and extravagant examples typically have no human figures to spoil the illusion of reality. The pubic exhibition of Queen Mary's dollhouse in 1924 encouraged a move towards 1:12-scale as a default "dollhouse scale".

The museum's dollhouse accessories collection is displayed in two columns of custom-designed modular room displays, flanking a central Moritz Gottschalk blue-roofed Nuremburg-style dollhouse. The display feature classic pieces dating from the early/mid Nineteenth Century to the 1930s. Represented manufacturers include Evans & Cartwright, Erhard & Söhne, Rock & Graner, Simon & Rivollet, Bassett Lowke Nuways, and Tri-ang Period.

Room 1 ... Room 2 ... Room 3 ... full cabinet ... item ... item ... item

Soft Toys

Margarete Steiff (1847-1909) was crippled with polio and wheelchair-bound, and turned to making soft toys to earn a living. As the business became more successful, her nephew Richard Steiff took to sketching the animals (especially the bears) at a nearby zoo as the inspiration for more designs, including a bear toy in 1902. After US President Teddy Rooseveldt's famous refusal to shoot a baby bear triggered the "teddy bear" craze, Steiff's bear became arguably the first teddy bear. Some Steiff bears can fetch eye-watering sums at auction.

George the Ginger Steiff Bear (manufactured circa 1910) was Chris Littledale's personal bear, and was his father's bear before him. George lives in a cabinet with other English and German bears made by Chiltern, Schuco, Deans Rag Book, Merrythought and Farnell. Elsewhere in the museum is a reference collection of soft toys including some of the rarest Steiff animals.

George ... bear2 ... Polar bear ... Steiff snail/spider/bat ... cabinet area

Diecast - Car Wars

In the 1930s Meccano Ltd. starting making cast metal trackside accessories for gauge 0 model railways as Hornby Modelled Miniatures, and quickly switched from using lead to a new alloy MAZAK (zinc with aluminium, magnesium, and copper), renaming the new range Dinky Toys.

By the end of the 1930s the Dinky range had grown to over three hundred models.

Corgi Toys ("The Ones with Windows!") were launched by Mettoy-Playcraft in 1956 as a next-generation competitor to Dinky Toys, with the "corgi" being a reference to the company's new factory in Wales. The Corgi range ushered in the "toy car wars", with Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox (1953-) and Tri-ang Spot-On (1959-67) all battling for market share.

The museum's reference collection of Corgi Toys is in achingly good condition, with their original boxes. Assembled by Glen Butler, the collection includes desperately rare export-only models and one-off factory experiments. Facing and alongside are Dinky Toys and the only known public collection of Triang Spot-On vehicles.

CORGI CABINET ... Spot-On ... Dinky ... Matchbox ... car base

Lead figures

The first commercial cast lead figures were almost two-dimensional "flats" or "flatties" (Zinnfiguren), mostly made in Germany in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century. The shallow moulds were made by made by carving into the sides of flat slate sheets, with the main manufacturer being Heinrichsen of Berlin, who specialised in military sets of historic battles.

The process of making three-dimensional figures in the UK was revolutionised by William Britain, who developed a method of casting hollow lead figures. Hollowcasting required less material and allowed models to cool faster, increasign production levels and reducing costs. W. Britain Ltd. specialised in toy soldiers, but the carnage of World War One made parents reluctant to give their children military toys, and the company diversified into making cast lead zoo animals, circuses, farms, model railway figures and even miniature garden sets with plantable lead flowers.

FLATTIE CLOSEUP ... Britains Zoo angle ... Britains Farm? ... Garden? ... Pip, Squeak and Wilfred? ... Figures closeup?

About the museum

logo ... schools ...


⚡ = essential, square format plus croppable bleed, suitable for for full-page images.

Train Running Day

  • ⚡ Layout – 2×1 proportions, high angle pointing right, for possible centre-spread
    • alternative shot from doorwway, panorama, cropped to 2×1 (can do any time)
  • Loco shots

One-person, after hours

  • ⚡ Doll house Furniture – Two or three rooms, nodding cats, dollhouse
  • ⚡ Arch Four with Hornby Wall – (Nick photo? Or reshoot to fit square proportions)
  • ⚡ George the Steiff Bear – check resolution of existing photo
    • Try reshoot, heavily angled, top-lit with other bears to left, with dark sheet to block reflections.
  • LEAD
    • ⚡ C19th lead "flattie" – 60mm macro lens, top lighting to bring out detail.
    • Zoo, strongly angled, looking left.
    • Pip, Squeak and Wilfred?
... randoms
  • Ships cabinet (from high top left, 90 degrees fov)

Needing two people to open cabinets - Monday job?

  • ⚡ Meccano cabinet – lhs, angled shot of crane from top of stairs, rhs, 1910 box, steam engines
  • Bassett-Lowke cabinet, lhs Princess Elizabeth, rhs King Arthur
  • Soft Toys cabinet, polar bear, rare Steiffs, group shot, PS&W
  • ⚡ Pelham Puppets – theatre 1, theatre 2, others?
  • ⚡ Märklin cooker – take out of cabinet to photo against white background
  • ⚡ Corgi Toys – back-shot with remote
    • Spot-On?
    • Panorama?
  • Metal construction toys, Märklin stuff (car, etc), angled-down shot for square outline
... randoms
  • Maybe other metal construction toys, angled-down shot for square outline

Early January, after Christmas decorations taken down

  • ⚡ Lobby shot, square


  • ⚡ Chris in workshop, holding loco/etc. Proportions? Check quality of existing photo, might not need to reshoot.


  • Check files for existing photos that would be difficult to reshoot. Most will be unsuitable, but there may be 2-3 candidates.