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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Demolishing Aquarium Station and Volk's Car Yard

There are many things going on in Brighton at the moment. A lot of regeneration and renewal, which is all a welcome sight.

The i360 proved contentious, a lot of people think it’s great, many others are disappointed by it and would have loved to see something different for a modernised seafront. But love it or hate it, you can’t argue that it is indeed iconic and has been a welcome boost for business in the area. You just have to walk along the prom to see the restaurants are all bustling at all hours.

Another programme of renewal which hasn’t received so much attention is the demolishing and rebuilding of many of the structures used by Volk’s Electric Railway.

Volk’s Electric Railway, as I’m sure you’re aware, is the oldest electric railway in the world, running from the Palace Pier to Peter Pan and Black Rock every summer since 1883. Over those years the buildings at the stops have come and gone and workshops have been built where the trains can be repaired and maintained to keep them in perfect running order for holiday makers and residents of Kemptown to commute along the seafront.

So, just as the rolling stock needs attention, so do the infrastructure that supports them, and that is why most of the buildings on Volk’s Railway property have been pulled down over recent weeks.
The first building that was brought to our attention as having been pulled down was the workshop next to Peter Pan. It’s true that the building was far past its prime and the options were clearly to overhaul it completely or rip it up and start again. It had been patched up so many times that a new start on the site really was the best option. Then we also noticed that the ticket booth at the Aquarium Station had gone too.

It’s unlikely that anyone will be sad upon seeing the buildings removal. And the contractors are already at work creating a substructure that will support a new Aquarium Station and visitor centre at the pier end of the line telling of the history Volk, the current electric railway, the seashore electric railway that today we call the ‘Daddy Longlegs’ and the other contributions and influence that Volk made toward electric powered railways, tramways, streetcars and vehicles throughout the rest of the world.

Construction on these projects to build a new station, visitor centre and yard/workshop will be quick, it's scheduled to be completed by spring 2017. That means that there should be plenty to see and do when the railway reopens for the summer season.

Our Last Running Day Of The Year!

We love our Running Days here at Brighton Toy and Model Museum. It’s unfortunate that we can’t put more on, but in order to preserve these valuable model trains, we’re only able to put Running Days on every so often, and when we do, it’s always a special occasion.

If you haven’t been to one of our Running Days before, it’s a chance to see many of our precious, rare model trains running around our purpose built diorama in the company of other rail fans and model train aficionados. The central area of the museum is normally kept behind Perspex in order to protect the exhibits, however, during the Running Day we take the barriers down so you can get a super view of the trains as they pull into and out of stations, and speed around the track, just as the makers, including Hornby, Marklin and many others intended.

Taking the acrylic screens down also means that you can get some great photography, without reflections, distortions or flare. If you’re a lover of old train sets, or vintage toys generally, this really is a pre-Christmas treat that’s perfect for you.

Admission is ten pounds for adults, five for children, but the price is halved for friends and patrons. Why not become a patron on the day and start enjoying the benefits of half price entry right away? As well as seeing our unique collection of trains, you’ll also, naturally, have full access to the museum so you can see all of our exhibits, from soft toys, Corgi and Matchbox cars, Meccano and their competitor construction kits as well as many other rare and fascinating toys from the past.

The trains will be running 11am to 1pm and from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday December 3rd, so put the date in your diary!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Due For Arrival; The Jenny Lind Locomotive

Jenny Lind
There’s a gap one of the display cases in the Brighton Toy and Model Museum’s foyer at the moment. What used to be a shelf dedicated to the glory days of the Brighton Belle is currently standing empty. But not for long.

Jenny Lind was a famous singer of the  1840s. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, and known popularly as ‘The Swedish Nightingale,’ Jenny Lind found fame throughout Europe and North America, reaching the peak of her success in the 1840s. Her first performance in London was in the opera Robert le Diable in 1847, with Queen Victoria in attendance. It was only two years later that she would announce her retirement from the operatic stage, and still nobody knows the real reason why.

Given a Famous Name

Awaiting The Arrival Of The Jenny Lind
As she was already famous throughout Europe, and she made her British debut in 1847, boilermakers E. B. Wilson and Company of Leeds built a steam locomotive for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, and it was named ‘Jenny Lind’ in her honour.

The loco’s design proved to be extremely successful and was used as a blueprint for successive steam engines throughout the 1840s 50s and 60s. Indeed the design was so useful that form of the Jenny Lind became a specific ‘type’ of engine. With more than seventy individual locomotives being built for a number of different railway companies, it became the first mass produced consistent type of railway locomotive in the world. In fact, the type became so consistent that the manufacturers chose to charge a premium from railway companies that ordered an engine that deviated from the type in any way.

The Perfect Location

Now obviously we don’t have one of the original Jenny Lind type locomotives, but we do have the next best thing: a 1-16 scale 3.5” steam powered model of the original engine as engineered by Bill Hinchley of the Milton Keynes Model Engineering Society. The engine has been donated to Brighton Toy and Model Museum due to the strong links between the original Jenny Lind engine and Brighton, indeed, where better for it to find a home than Brighton’s famous model museum?
The final exhibit is currently being prepared, the brightwork polished and the paintwork buffed. The model of the Jenny Lind will see its own debut on the 14th of October and will sit alongside paintings of the Brighton coachworks which used to be next door to Brighton railway station, a model of The Leader, an experimental steam engine of the 1940s built in the Brighton Coachworks and several other pieces of memorabilia of Brighton’s steam past including original lamps from the historic Brighton Belle.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

When an Old Box Becomes a Treasure Trove

Isn’t it amazing, what you find when you’re not looking for it? Especially when that thing is a treasure you’ve forgotten you ever had!

While we were undergoing a grand reorganisation and clear-out in one of our workshops we discovered under a bench an old box that hadn’t been opened in 20 years. Well, that old box proved itself to be something of a treasure chest when we took a look inside because in it we found an historic and enchanting collection of beautiful and incredibly rare collection of miniature furniture, ornaments, and kitchenware, including plates, cutlery, even the fruit and various other foods that were to be served on them. A fine setting for a luscious Lilliputian dinner! The collection also includes any number of other household objects including tools, framed pictures, lamps and vacuum cleaners. In fact, anything you would expect to see around the home, but in miniature.

A Display Built By Craftsmen

We thought this find was so extraordinary that the museum’s craftsman carpenter created a wonderfully atmospheric display that shows off the collection to its best; a unique doll’s house inspired display stand where all the tiny fixtures and chattels can be seen as they would have been in situ in a real doll’s house.

Once this display had been built and decorated to look every bit as if it were a turn of the century doll’s house then the museum’s director spent the next week carefully selecting and displaying the best parts of the collection as you see it today.

Together with the display stands, there is an original dolls’ house from the beginning of the twentieth century and numerous other pieces such as bathroom and bedroom sets. The collection is open now as part of our collection of over 10,000 individual items on exhibition.

If you're planning on coming to see the doll's furniture exhibit, we're open 10-5 Tuesday to Friday, 11-5 on Saturday. For admission fees and all other details, please see the Brighton Toy and Model Museum website 













Saturday, 24 September 2016

So What’s Up With Those Dogs All Round Brighton?

If you’ve walked anywhere in Brighton and Hove recently, you can’t have helped but notice the decorated dogs that are dotted all around town. But what’s the story?

So, if you’re like me you’ll have seen The Snowman, and had a little sob at the end. Well, the story didn’t actually stop there. Oh no. There was a snow dog, and that’s what these little fellas are all about.

More than 40 Snowdog and 20 pup sculptures were produced, all blank, and sent out to artists and schools to be decorated. So each one is unique and painted to represent a different theme.
The event is in aid of Martlets, a charity that cares for people living through terminal illnesses in the Brighton and Hove area. As well as a Snowdog trail (you can pick up a map from Brighton Toy and Model Museum) there are any number of other fundraising events based on the dogs and pups including a fun run, a Snowdogs trail open top bus tour and, at the event, each one of the Snowdogs will be auctioned off to raise money for the Martlets charity work.

If you love the Snowdogs but you can’t wait to buy your own, or don’t have space for one in your home (come on, they are massive!) then get down to one of the Martlets charity shops where they will be selling Snowdog merchandise, souvenirs and gifts.
You can read more about Martlets and Snowdogs by liking their Facebook page, following on Twitter or visiting the Snowdog website.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Is It A Bird? Is It A 'Plane? No! It's A Playday!

Will you be coming to the next Brighton Toy and Model Museum playday? The theme is "In The Sky". Could mean anything, couldn't it?
It could mean Aeroplanes, the Flying Trapeze at the circus, birds, tightrope walkers, balloons, the birds, even the stars and astronauts!
Make up your own mind and then come along to see if you were right (nothing is ever wrong when you make it up yourself!). We'll be having the usual mix of stories, facepainting, arts and crafts and an assortment of toys to play with too.
Looking forward to seeing you and having a brilliant playday.