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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Alive with Music, History, Science and Theatre

We’re pleased to announce our summer/autumn schedule of events. After such a successful and full spring/summer we needed a little break, but now we’re back with a completely different flavour. During the Brighton Festival Fringe we hosted a number of different shows, including comedy, magic and authors. The staff played a huge role in making this a successful Fringe, with many of the shows selling out. Buoyed up and excited with that under our belts, now on with the new.


Brighton Toy and Model Museum is now working closely with Folk Room, a part of Folk Room Records, hosting many of their signings’ live events in our upper arch. The space is perfect for unplugged folk as it is so intimate, and the acoustics so rich that many previous performers have commented on what a great place to play it is.

All the information on the performances from August through to October can be found on our Facebook Events Page, but for quick reference they are:

*August 24, Jess Morgan
*September 7, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
*September 22, Ewan McLennan
*October 6, Emily Mae Winters
*November 9, Mairearad & Anna

Folk Room have done so much it’s been incredible. It’s a privilege to work with people who have such commitment and dedication to folk music.

Heritage Open Day


As well as these fantastic gigs, we’re also putting on several other events which should be of interest to all, not just those who are folk fans. Firstly we’re putting on anther Heritage Open Day on September 15 where you will be able to take a guided tour around the museum by people who know much more about the building and its history than just its toys. You can find out about the building’s history as a stables and depot for Bass Breweries, how it was bought two and a half decades ago by our founder Chris Littledale and converted into the museum as it is now. And of course you’ll find out about our favourite pieces in the collections. Tours will take place at 5.45pm 6.15pm and 6.45pm

Brighton Science Festival


If heritage were to have an opposite, it would surely be looking into the future, and that’s exactly what he try to do when we host Brighton Science Festival’s 'Kids In Science' events. This spring we had an absolutely fantastic time with our balloon car races and making moving images. With that in mind, we’re especially keen to open our door yet again to the kids, and their parents, who make this such a great event. Brighton Science Festival exists to show that the sciences can be fun, and make up every part of our lives, rather than being the preserve of the chemistry or physics laboratory. This autumn's Kids in Science events will take place on October 22, with a 'Kinetic Carousel's' theme.

Two Halves of Guinness


And Last, but far from least, we have the intimate portrayal of Sir Alec Guinness in Two Halves of Guinness, a one man show by Trevor Littledale. The play looks, from his own point of view, at the career of Alec Guinness shortly after the release of Star Wars. He worried that this blockbuster might define his career, leaving his performances in films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Man in the White Suit, and Kind Hearts and Coronets forgotten.

For all booking details visit our Facebook events page or call us on 01273 749494 for further details.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Two Halves of Guinness at the Museum

Anyone less than 50 (and many people older) will have seen Star Wars. As well as seeing the movies, most of us will have collected the toys, models and other merchandise which went along with the film’s success.

Trevor Littledale by remyhunterphotography.co.uk
One of the film’s main protagonists (the donor/mentor according to Todorov and Propp) was Obi Wan Kenobi, a mystical wizard cum knight tutor played by famed British character actor Alec Guinness. Despite having worked on stage and in film for decades, Guinness was famously worried that his part in Star Wars would be his defining role, leaving his portrayal of the entire D’Ascoyne family in Kind Hearts and Coronets, of Sidney Stratton in The Man in the White Suit, and even his playing of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an academy award, forgotten. According to Guinness’ son Matthew, when Sir Alec met a child fan who said he had seen the Star Wars ‘a hundred times’ he said to the young chap “Well, do you think you could promise never to watch it again?”

The one man play Two Halves of Guinness, performed by Trevor Littledale, finds us meeting Guinness in a cosy bar as he faces crippling insecurity after taking part in the creation of the Sci-Fi epic. Not only does it inspect the actor’s personal anxieties, it also looks at the relationship he had with other British acting luminaries such as Olivier and Coward, his conversion to Catholicism, his upbringing, the war, and the premonitions he often had, leading to the warning he gave James Dean on the night before his fatal car accident.

Littledale characterises Guinness perfectly, using miniscule body movements and changes in expression and voice to become another character within the monologue. The ‘two halves’ of the title refers to the two distinct sides of Guinness’ personality; the dark, anxious, insecure side brought about by being born illegitimate to an alcoholic mother and never really knowing who his father was, being taken constantly from digs to boarding houses while he was growing up, adding to his sense of vulnerability. The other half, the lighter side, looks at his life as an entertainer. How, once he’d decided to become an actor, he simply looked up John Gielgud in the directory and phoned him to ask for acting lessons. Gielgud was unable to oblige personally, but the two became firm friends.

The play is being performed in Brighton Toy and Model Museum, a space which lends itself well to the performance as Trevor feels that the proximity of the audience to the actor adds vital intimacy to the play as it unfolds.

For booking information and to buy tickets for the show when it is staged in October, simply follow the link to Eventbrite

Blog by Dan Cash, opinions are author's own.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Tea And Cake Anyone?

What We're Doing For National Volunteers' Week


National Volunteers Week is an annual occasion where people who give up their time for free to organisations all over the UK are recognised for their efforts and the richness they add to their local communities.

Many organisations simply wouldn’t be able to run if it weren’t for the generosity of time and labour that the volunteering minded give. When we think of the voluntary sector we immediately think of people who work in charity shops and animal shelters, but there are a staggering number of ongoing projects which would be impossible to maintain without volunteers. From reading to people who have sight problems to the WRVS who help elderly people enjoy a productive and valuable social life.

Brighton Toy Museum, volunteers, language skills, ESOL, Travel, tourism
Learning Handy Rhyming Slang
Another sector that relies heavily on volunteers for its survival is the heritage sector. Many museums and galleries are independently run on incredibly narrow margins and wouldn’t be able to operate at all if it weren’t for the contribution that volunteers make. And Brighton Toy and Model Museum is no exception. Each year we take on volunteers and work experience candidates from the local area, and all over Europe. Our international volunteers work here as part of their tertiary education, getting real life experience working in a tourist venue, speaking English (and helping out immeasurably when our visitors share the same first language), making friends and making a valuable contribution to the running of the museum.

Give Your Time, Gain Valuable Skills


Our British volunteers add their many skills to the mix too, selling tickets, offering free tourist information, assisting in the archiving and cataloguing of the museum’s many thousands of exhibits, and getting involved with events such as Museums at Night, Brighton Festival Fringe, The Brighton Science Festival and the Sussex Rail Community Partnership. Even if it were possible to stay open without the help of our volunteers, it would be impossible for it to engage with the community and offer a fraction as much as it does. And National Volunteers’ Week is an opportunity to show our appreciation to the people whose work makes our work possible.

During National Volunteers’ Week every day will be tea and cake day for all of our helpers. Because most volunteers only come in on the same day every week, it’s quite possible for people who have been working here for ages to never meet other volunteers because they always work different days.  So we’re offering tea and cake to all of our volunteers every day. Drop in, enjoy some of Brighton’s finest pastry confections and finally get to meet a few of the other people who do so much to keep the heritage of play and childhood memories alive. How cool is that?

National Volunteers’ Week Goes from June 1st to June 7th. If you’ve got free time and you’d like to become a hero of the local community, why not see what volunteering can do for you?

Blog by Dan Cash, all opinions author's own.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Why A Rainy Day Is A Great Reason To Do Indoor Things In Brighton

Summer means fun, summer means barbecues on the beach, shorts and bikini tops, sunbathing in the garden or park and long bike rides with friends.

Summer also means wet bank holidays, grey, windy weekends where the kids are stuck indoors and long summer holidays where you’re in charge of a houseful of people who are all looking at you for something to entertain them. Over the past few years we’ve all felt a little cheated; the weather in late spring has been fine so we’ve got ourselves all geared up for a great summer, only to find it wet and blustery.

We’re used to seeing front page headlines in the papers with their fanfares of scorching record summer temperatures accompanied by pictures of the Brighton seafront so crowded that it’s near impossible to move, but what about the legendary ‘miserable bank holiday weekend’ where the sun can barely push its face past the gloom and grey?

If you’ve got kids you’ll know how frustrating it is to have to keep them in when they’re busting to get out and do something, so why not think about some of the great things to do on a wet weekend in Brighton? If you’re coming from outside of town, hoping for sunshine and lollipops only to find it’s a day for hot soup and pacamacs, or you’re local but you’ve just stumped for thigs to do, why not take a look at some of these “off the beaten track” indoorsy things to do on a rainy day in Brighton?

First of all there’s the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Located directly under the train station it’s easy to find without scampering about in the wet. The museum is home to thousands of individual exhibits which will bring back all kinds of memories of childhood and play. There are often many different things going on, such as running days where many rare model trains can be seen racing about the tracks. Activity packs are available to inspire children to explore and get much more out of the exhibits. It also has a tourist information point in the foyer so you can ask for tips on where to go and plan what to do next.

Brighton also has dozens of galleries. Just down the street from Brighton Toy and model Museum you will find Dynamite Gallery where you can see superb work by some of the best contemporary local artist. “Best contemporary local artists” might not mean much in many places, but in Brighton where there is such a vibrant artistic community, fed by universities and colleges with excellent art programmes, you can be sure they will be very good indeed. Just around the corner is Onca, a gallery dedicated to work that highlights environmental issues by featuring exhibits and events produced by people who are dedicated to bringing about progressive change. Then there are BozBoz Gallery which again is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary modern art and Phoenix Gallery which not only exhibits art by local artists, but provides more than 100 studio spaces where they can work, meaning that there is never any shortage of the finest painting, sculpture, design and textile work on display.
If you’re in Brighton with the kids, they might not be so interested in looking at art, so why not take them to the trampoline park or for an afternoon’s lasertag?

Located just outside Brighton is Sussex’s Skyhigh trampoline park which a variety of different packages for adults and children depending on the size and ages of the groups. They also offer fitness and toning classes as well as quieter sessions for children who prefer to bounce without whistles and music.

Brighton’s Laserzone is at the bottom of the street straight down from the train station and just across the road from the beach. Themed on a crashed spaceship which is surrounded by a hostile environment and even more hostile enemies, the venue caters for individuals, small or large groups, even corporate events. 

If you’re the kind of person who’s more interested in making friends with creatures from another world, how about the Sealife Centre? There are many beautiful creatures bobbing about, including phenomenally huge spider crabs, massive sharks, and black pacu. There are also little rays and starfish who will shake your hand and octopus who are said to be as clever as your pet dog. (But they never come when you whistle.)

Regency Town House is a fascinating restoration of a terraced house which has been brought back to its original grandeur. It’s a peek behind the doors of history, celebrating not only the experiences of the wealthy and powerful, but the realities of lives lived by the more humble members of society. Part of what they do is ‘Period Cooking’ using recipes and ingredients which would have been available to Brightonians in the time of the Prince Regent.

If you’re down in Brighton during the Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe you’ll find many of the parks and open spaces have theatres, stalls and all kinds of events set up for your entertainment. As well as this, there are many shows in theatres, bars, streets and then there’s the Artists’ Open Houses. A great opportunity to see art and sculpture that artists have created displayed in homes, cafes, and galleries throughout the city. Also a great opportunity to snoop around people’s homes, if you like that kind of thing. You’ll need to go online or pick up a listings paper to find out what’s going on as there are so many events it’s impossible to keep track.





Monday, 16 April 2018

Say No To Plastic, Better By Design

Today we’re welcoming design students from the Brighton MET College as they install their No To Plastic exhibition.

A few weeks ago we invited students from the design department along to Brighton Toy and Model Museum to look at old fashioned design and manufacturing. It was noticed that in the ‘Make Do and Mend’ era toys weren’t made of plastic, but metal, wood, fabric, even paper. Children would be encouraged buy toys such as Meccano to make their own toys, half the fun being the construction of the object itself.

MET, design, display, sustainability, reuse, recycling,
So while we’re increasingly conscious of the need to reduce the amount of plastic we use, especially single use plastic, we are also realising the need to use sustainable and re-usable materials for the things we manufacture. It’s often observed that many things made in times gone by were built to last while today we often talk about ‘built-in obsolescence’, a process by which consumer durables are made with materials which will wear out or fail after a certain period, creating a need to replace the product which, if made of durable materials, would last far longer.



Better Design Improves the Environment


When they do fail, many of these goods end up in landfill or in the environment.  Today there is a plaque of plastic two to three times the size of France floating in the Pacific and it’s estimated that in a few years there will actually be more plastic than fish in the sea. Obviously the solution is to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, and to make that easier, we need to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the first place. This exhibition looks at the way products used to be produced and looks at ways of making that model viable again in a throw-away consumer driven economy.

Steve Follen, design lecturer at the Brighton MET College said “We wanted to give the students the experience of working for a real client, with strict deadlines and an evolving brief. They had to work in teams and communicate with one another, which is a key skill in any design process. We gave them a short amount of time to complete their design, which really challenged them.”

And it’s interesting to see what the students have produced. Some have taken the brief to ‘re-use’ quite literally, incorporating well known iconic elements such as branding and logos into the finished product, while others have created unique objects which show no trace of their origins, giving the impression of being brand new while in reality their heritage is anything but.

Outstanding Design is Inconspicuous


The exhibition has been so created that it fits in with all the exhibits that were already on display in the museum. Display cases have been built which look very similar to the ones we use all the time, making the exhibition flow and become one with the family favourites that we have on display every day.

MET, design, display, sustainability, reuse, recycling,
If you’re interested in seeing the exhibition it’s open all the time the museum is, until the end of May. MET College students and their guests get an extra 10% discount on admission for the duration, so if you’re a MET student with ID you get an extra 10% off your student discount and any friends and family you bring will also receive a 10% discount on their admission too!

A Blog by Dan Cash, opinions and experience are the author's own.


MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Brighton Toy And Model Museum is Well MET

Brighton Toy and Model Museum isn’t just a repository for old toys. The idea that museums are just a place for old stuff to collect dust should be consigned to the museum! Today museums all around the world are thinking of new ways in which to connect with the communities which they represent. Museums aren’t just a collection of other people’s antiques, they contain objects of our history; relics that are part of the culture to which we all belong.

I always loved museums, that’s why I work in one now. But there are other people who felt that going to a museum was almost a form of punishment when they were at school and consequently they wouldn’t willingly set foot inside one now. And that’s an attitude which is up to all of us as museum workers to try and change. A trip to the museum should be not only educational, but fun, entertaining and informative; a treat that everyone can look forward to. Museums used to be like libraries, you had to hush, look hard at exhibits which were often poorly displayed in badly lit cabinets, and NO TOUCHING!

Brighton Toy and Model Museum has always striven to dispel this image of reliquary. Toys are made to be fun, and while we can’t let everybody play with all the models we have, we do have interactive toys and machines, and during school visits children can play with some of the toys we keep as resources. We use that play to teach about several key stage subjects, such as the science and technology involved in construction, motion and propulsion. We don’t just exhibit old toys to conjure up memories. We also get involved in educational programmes such as Brighton Science Fest, where all kinds of learning is cleverly disguised as play! During SciFest kids thought they were playing making balloon powered race cars out of recyclable odds and ends and moving images from zoetropes. In fact they were learning about planning, strategy, construction, friction and drag, stored energy, optics and the persistence of vision.

It’s not just the young learners who we want to get more out of our museum. We want older children and young adults to think of the Toy Museum as something that they can get involved with too. This year we’re taking on work experience staff members so they can get a feel of the way a tourist attraction is run as a business, and exhibiting work by Brighton MET College art students. We are looking forward to providing space for artists from Brighton MET to exhibit their work as we feel this is a brilliant opportunity for artists to display their work in front of an audience made up not only of their peers, but of the general public who might not usually make it to exhibitions held on the college premises.

And we’re very excited about the Community Rail Partnership we’ve signed with Govia Thameslink as it will enable us to promote the exhibitions, such as those we’re working on with Brighton MET, to commuters, visitors, and all those who pass through Brighton Station. The Community Rail Partnership will mean that we can put up posters promoting the events which we are hosting, on the station concourse. We will also be able to provide two display cabinets in the booking office so people will have the chance to have a taste of our locally themed exhibits while they wait to buy their train tickets.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Brighton Toy and Model Museum In Ground-breaking New Community Rail Partnership With Brighton Railway Station



At midday 21st March 2018 Brighton Toy and Model Museum founder, Chris Littledale signed up to the Community Rail Partnership agreement, along with Anthony Dowsett, Govia Thameslink Railway Station Manager, and Catherine Simmons, Sussex Community Rail Partnership. Brighton Toy and Model Museum is the first organisation that this programme has taken on board and the staff at the toy museum are all very excited about what the project will mean for the museum and the wider Brighton and Hove community in general.

What It Means For Us

As part of the agreement Brighton Toy and Model Museum will gain access to advertising and promotional space all over Brighton Station, including 'Swan Neck' poster displays on the main concourse and banners on the station railings, visible as you leave the station and head down to the beach. We will also be displaying pieces from our collection in cabinets in the ticket office so travellers will have something interesting to look at and spark their enthusiasm as they wait to book their tickets. This is a great opportunity for Brighton Toy and Model Museum as it allows us to reach local people and visitors to Brighton alike. So many people say “I go past the museum every day, but I've never been in,” and now we can reach out to them, giving them a little bit of the museum while they do something else.

What It Means For The Railway Station

Because we're located directly underneath Brighton Railway Station, it's always been an ambition of ours to form a friendly relationship with the station owners. The station isn't just a place you pass through on your way somewhere else, it's a place to meet, to part, and to spend time together with friends and family as you see one another off, or have a coffee while you make plans for your visit to our beautiful city. Our commitment to Brighton Train Station will mean that we supply an exhibition which is entertaining and interesting, which reflects the role played by rail in the development and popularity of Brighton and Hove, and where that relationship between trains and the people they serve is headed in the future.

What It Means For You

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is working hard to become the best quirky, unique venue for arts and entertainment in the city. As well as corporate events and special days geared to model rail enthusiasts, we are now a venue for Brighton Festival Fringe. This year we are playing host to a plethora of performers from comedy to theatre including local talent from Hubble Bubble Productions, Adriano Fettucini and the well-loved children’s author Jane Hissey. As well as being a performance space, we will also be hosting an exhibition of work created by students at Brighton MET College. This will give the young designers the perfect opportunity to design, create and curate an exhibition of their work to the general public during the Fringe Festival.

Having this agreement with Brighton Railway Station means that we will be able to promote, market and display all these activities to the community as they pass through the train station, and as we're so conveniently located, we hope that they will all come down and support us and the work that we do to preserve childhood memories and local railway heritage.