Friday, 12 December 2014

Toys Of 100 Years Ago

We've just received the posters that the children of Firle School were good enough to draw for us and may I say how impressed I was with the pictures? They're so much fun and colourful, opening the mail with them in really brightened up a gloomy winter's day.

The children came in a couple of weeks ago to take part in a school's museum visit where they get a chance to look around the museum, find some some particular object including a bear, a doll, a Meccano windmill and even a circus. Once these toys have been identified we have a chance to talk about them, how old they are, what they were made of and how different, or even how similar they are to toys that we can still find in our own toy boxes today.

We discovered that Meccano was hard to make although you can still get it and in the old days toy horses were made of real horse! (Well, their tails and manes were made of real horsehair anyway.) It's sad that we don't have the names of the children on the posters they made or we could thank them individually, however, they really are a great job and we want to thank you all for all your great effort and hard work.

This afternoon we have been been laminating the poster's we've got here and we're going to put them up in the museum. If you can't make it into the museum though, I've attached the pictures we received from Ms Ricca so that you can see them anyway.
Thanks again to reception and years one and two and all the staff and helpers who came along, we loved your visit and hope you can make it along again some time soon.

Thanks To All Who Came To Our Christmas Playday

We here at the Toy Museum just wanted to say a big thank you to all the visitors who came along to our Christmas themed Playday last weekend.
We all had such a great time welcoming all the visitors, children and adults, who all seemed to be having a great time with the trains, making Christmas cards, snowflakes and glittery gifts, we enjoyed ourselves so much it was hard to get the last visitors to leave, but leave they must. So we hope that they will all come along to the next Playday which is scheduled for February, a time of year  when thoughts turn to love. And Spring. And warmer weather.
In the meantime, all of the staff and volunteers at the museum would like to wish all of our visitors the best of the season, a Happy New Year and most of all, that you get lots of fun toys in your stockings this Christmas!
And just to remind you that Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be close from the 23rd of december until the 26th and then again for New Year from the 28th until the second of January.

Friday, 21 November 2014

December’s Christmas Themed Playday Sunday 7th 2pm - 5pm

It’s almost time for another of Brighton Toy and Model Museum’s Playdays. December’s Playday takes its theme from Christmas so there will be lots of seasonal things for kids to get up to.
As usual, there will be toys to play with, arts and crafts to create, including greetings cards and a story performed by one of our fascinating storytellers. As well as these activities there will also be a facepainter making children into elves, princesses, pirates and penguins and a Loom-Bandologist teaching us how to make beautiful pieces just in time to give us plenty of ideas for things to make for Christmas gifts. Each child can take their bracelet or Loom gift away with them.

The Playday is on Sunday December 7th and starts in the museum at 2pm and finishes at 5pm, although the doors will be open throughout. Admission is £6 for this event and includes craft materials, loom bands and light refreshments. Naturally, since the Playday is taking place within the museum, children have access to all of the exhibits as well as taking part in activities. This includes our model railways, stuffed toys, construction kits and model aircraft. As usual, the museum shop will also remain open, with a great selection of toys and models, including pre-owned trains and trackwork, Star Wars toys, buses, cars and tanks as well as new toys and seasonal gifts.

Each child or group of up to four children will be entitled to have one adult guest come along free to accompany them. The Playday is targeted at children from 3 to 12 years of age, children under 8 will have to bring someone over 18 to look after them. Faces cost an extra pound to paint and some activities may cost a little extra if additional materials or products are used. Healthy refreshments will be made available too.

Admission to this event is half price for Junior Members.

Museum Junior Membership is £20 per annum for children and includes access to running days and other special events hosted by the museum including free access to the museum on all ordinary days of business. If a Junior Member brings along an adult, on an ‘ordinary’ day, who isn’t also a member then the adult pays £1.00 instead of the normal admission price of £4.50 (£3.50 for students and senior citizens).

Saturday, 8 November 2014

When Brighton Went To War

A view of the First World War from some local people who fought in it

To remember the sacrifice of the local men who fought on the front and the women who had to watch them go, knowing that they may never see them again, Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be holding an event focusing on the very personal experience of those who went, those who never came back, and the ones they left behind.

It was a Tommy from Brighton who pulled the trigger on the first British shot fired in anger

On 22nd of August 1914 a German officer was unhorsed by Pte Ernest Edward Thomas, a 4th Dragoon Guard who lived on Southdown Avenue. After experiencing several adventures, the decorated and Promoted Sgt Thomas survived the war and died 25 years later, still living in Brighton, on the eve of the Second World War.

Fascinating details like these, the letters shared between those at the front and their wives and sweethearts at home in Brighton And Hove, even songs written by the girls of the local munitions factory: Light and Co of Circus Street will be recited, affording an insight into the attitudes of all those involved in the war effort, both at home and facing the enemy. 

The Pavilion as a Hospital

Recognition will also be made to those who came from the furthest reaches of the Empire to fight for King and Country and, once wounded, found themselves recovering in The Royal Pavilion. Letters from officers and other ranks recruited in India describe the reception they received from the people of Sussex, especially girls, cheering their arrival and inviting them into their homes for comfort.
The evening’s schedule remembering the efforts of those from Sussex will start at 7.30pm in the Museum. Admission costs £8.00, 50% of the ticket proceeds will go to veterans’ charity Combat Stress, a UK charity supporting ex-service personnel and their families who are suffering from depression, stress and other trauma related mental health issues. Tickets are available on the door or by booking in advance here.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Ooh La La Board For Brighton!

Vintage car collectors, owners and enthusiasts are often compared to big kids tinkering with their toys. This being so, the Committee at Brighton Toy and Model Museum thought that the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run was the perfect cue to get their trainsets running again.

Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be holding another of their ever popular Train Running Days on November the 1st to entertain all vintage enthusiasts and the nostalgic who will be on the South Coast for the London to Brighton rally the following day. Running days at the museum are unfortunately infrequent because the time and effort put into making sure the trains are properly maintained means that they can’t be run on a regular basis. This running day will be different from the running days that the museum are occasionally able to host thanks to a French inspired theme. The museum will be unpacking its rare French made models from the first half of the last century and will be running them alongside more familiar British makes.

For those dedicated Francophiles among us, the French theme continues after the museum’s normal opening hours: In the evening the Museum will be laying on a French soirĂ©e with authentic French music and chanteuse entertaining guests. A buffet of French foods including cheeses and wines will also be available.

 The Running Day on the first of November will be much like any other day at the museum except that many of the old, rare, and delicate trains which are normally only displayed behind glass in the central layout will be running. The glass will also be removed so visitors can get a really great unimpeded view of the trains as they go. There will also be staff and museum members on hand throughout the day to talk about the collections, their history as well as offering guidance and advice to any budding model rail enthusiasts.

Admission to the Running Day will be £10 per person, admission for those who wish to attend both the running day and the evening’s entertainments (which includes access throughout the museum) is £16.00. Tickets for the evening’s event will be £8.50 and will include a complimentary glass of wine.

For more information about booking tickets please see our Eventbrite pages. One allows you to book tickets for the running day while the other allows you to book for the evening of song or buy tickets for the entire day's schedule of events.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Children's Play Day!

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is hosting a Children's Play Day from 2 - 5pm on Sunday 5th October.

It's going to be a great day with a variety of toys to play with (including train sets!), facepainting, storytelling with the Celestial Storyteller and arts & crafts! Healthy light refreshments will be available.
Have a look here at some photos and drawings from one of our Children's Days last year.
£5 per child.

Don't miss out on the fun!

Friday, 1 August 2014

A Runnaway Running Day Success!

All of us here at the Museum would like to thank everyone who came along and helped make the Running Day such a success. From the visitors, the volunteers, staff and the camera crew, we couldn't have had such a great day without you all.
We all had a great time and hope that everyone who came along to see our collection of trains running enjoyed themselves too. It was good to see so many people who had not been before, who said "I always walk past but I've not come in before" and those who never knew we were here in the first place. We hope you all felt welcome and we look forward to seeing you again.
Because the Children Go Free day was such a success and we loved meeting so many new people we are thinking about putting on more Children Visit For Free days during the summer holidays, giving the kids something to do that's a little bit out of the ordinary on a weekday. We can't confirm anything yet but keep an eye out for posters and pamphlets in the next few weeks.
We asked anyone who was interested in seeing the final broadcast TV show to give us their email address so we could forward the link to YouTube when it became available and naturally we'll be hosting a link to it from our channel and on the website but if you'd also like to get the link sent directly to your inbox when we get it then email us and we'll make sure you get it just as soon as we do.

Since we're on the subject of children in the museum, I would like to make a little addendum to mention that we are going to be re-launching the Children's Club in September. After that the club will be open one Sunday every two months when we will have toys out to play with, art, crafts and stories told by one of our resident raconteurs.

For more information as it becomes available, look out for our blogs, Facebook and Twitter updates, posters or simply join our mailing list where we can inform you of all these details plus much more museum news as it happens. To sign up, just drop us an email with "Mailing List" in the subject field to

Friday, 25 July 2014

Join The Museum Family!

Like any charity in these straitened times Brighton Toy and Model Museum is always looking for ways to increase its turnover. Our ambition is to deliver something worthwhile to our benefactors while making enough money to add something extra to the visitor experience. If the museum gets old and stale we lose visitors, creating a cycle whereby we can't afford to operate. Without the superb efforts that our volunteers make to come in every day, working hard to make each and every guest feel welcome and offering tourist information, we would not be able to offer the visitor experience we do. The museum also does a surprising amount of work for foreign students and those seeking work experience. Most people wouldn't realise that as well as British helpers we usually have a few volunteers from France, Germany and Spain working in the museum all the time in order to gain experience in the travel and tourism industry while also improving their English and making friends with the native volunteers and staff.

We've always run a membership or 'Friends' scheme which allows you special privileges within the museum. These include complimentary admission for you and a guest, access to our running days and other events, newsletters and notifications of upcoming events.

In addition to the Friends membership, in future we are going to start offering membership of our 'Supporters' Club' which will offer everything that the Friends membership offers along with a variety of 'surprises' which will include evenings with trustees and patrons, along with invitations to events that are organised and funded by trustees and the Museum's Collections Trust. These could include exclusive dinners at world class hotels in Sussex, London and beyond, free hotel weekends, and invitations to visit some of the private collections of our trustees, many of which are as impressive as the exhibits we have on display, however, they have never been made open to the general public.

The money we make from the Supporters' Club subscriptions will be used to establish a workshop and education centre in the area adjoined to the west side of the museum which is currently being used as a workshop for the 00 diorama. It will go towards modifications to the electrics and emergency lighting, a new disabled ramp and investment in exhibits which will be available to handle to support our education and "special groups" sessions.

As well as these improvements to the public areas of the museum we also intend to create an exclusive Supporters' area above the workshop at the back of the shop and reception area. This area will have additional displays and a comfortable lounge area exclusively for staff and supporters.

If you're interested in becoming a Supporter we have several levels of membership:
Bronze at £10 per month
Silver at £25 per month
Gold at £50 per month
Together with the monthly subscriptions we also welcome annual payments of £100 to £500, we also accept one-off payments of £50 and above.

To take advantage of this Supporters' scheme and all the promotions and offers that come with it then please email us in the first instance

Pride In Brighton

We just wanted to let you know that we will be closed on Saturday 2nd August because we're all going to be enjoying the Pride celebrations.

We are looking forward to a great weekend and hope you have a fantastic time too!

All at Brighton Toy and Model Museum.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Recent Events: Toys In The Community Drop In Evening

On Wednesday we held an event to encourage people currently living in Brighton and Hove to come along and get involved in our project which will collect and share their memories of toys and models from their childhoods.
It was good to meet so many people who wanted to get involved in this project, and we're sure that with their help and the help of the contributors we gain in the future, then the Toys In The Community, Valuing Memories of dolls, teddy bears and construction toys initiative will be a valuable resource for people interested in childhood, play, development and memory for many years to come.
As well as the participants who came in and offered to share their memories we also had some of the consultants who are going to help make this project a reality in the museum to meet the volunteers and show them, and the participants what the process of gathering, collecting and storing the memories will involve.

When the project comes to fruition it will be more than just a relic in a museum, we are planning on keeping digital records of the memories which can then be shared in perpetuity on the internet, through a printed book and exhibit which will travel to various locations in order to bring memories of childhood and toys to where they are wanted.
In order to achieve this goal we have recruited the services of Steven Cragg, a local photographer who specialises in portraits, photographic services and events.
The designer who is taking care of the website which will be dedicated to the Toys In The Community project is Peter Pavement @surfimpress, managing director and founder of Surface Impression.
Paul Dutnall from JunkTV was also here,as  he is taking care of the videography for the project. JunkTV are a local youth and community TV production and screening company and Paul will be helping us tape and edit the interviews that we create.
Also present on the evening was Sarah Hitchings @spokenmemoirs of Spoken Memoirs another local organisation who specialise in recording oral histories, interviewing, oral history training, preservation and research.

Be On TV For Free (If you're a kiddie)

Friday, 27 June 2014

In The News!

If you're a regular reader of our blog or you've been to visit the toy museum recently you'll no doubt be aware that we've got a campaign going to collect memories of toys and childhood from people all over the Brighton and Hove area. The campaign is due to come to fruition next year, in order to coincide with 25 years of being open to visitors. Our idea is to gather thoughts and memories of people who are currently living in the area, who may have come from anywhere in the world, to share with other people. The memories will be put together and used to create a traveling exhibit, a book and new website which will be a permanent resource for people who are interested in toys, models and childhood generally.

As part of our activities to promote the project we've been approaching people in all sorts of places to get interested and promote the open evening we're having on Wednesday 9th of July from 5:30 to 7:30 where people can come along, have a look around the museum for free and sign up to be interviewed about their memories of their own toys which they used to play with. As well as getting a few pieces in local newspapers and magazines Andrea, our project manager for the Toys In The Community, Valuing Memories of dolls, teddy bears and construction toys initiative has been interviewed on the local BBC and Juice 107.2 radio stations. You can read about the interview Andrea gave to Juice here, unfortunately they don't appear to have a way of listening to the piece after broadcast but if you want to listen to Andrea waxing lyrical (although early in the morning, we admire her commitment!) then you can find the show by clicking on Neil Pringle's face. Neil Pringle
So remember, if you're able to come along on the open evening, then please do, and if you're not able to come down but you're interested in contributing a memory, please do let us know by calling on 01273 749494 or email us at so we can arrange a time that's convenient for you to come to us or we could even come to you. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Time To Stop Playing Around And Start Talking Toys

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is looking for people of all ages to participate in an oral history project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to speak about their memories of their childhoods and the toys they played with, of all types from the past up until today.
No matter what your background, whether you had a great collection of toys or just one favourite from which you could never be parted, they want to hear from you.

Brighton Toy and Model Museum opened underneath Brighton Train Station in in 1991. In order to celebrate its 25th anniversary in two years' time, museum staff are gathering memories from people from all walks of life to contribute to this heritage project. The Heritage Lottery Fund granted the museum funding for this venture which will result in a community based outreach project, a website, book and a touring exhibition, all of which will be completed in 2016.

The open evening will be held as a drop-in event on Wednesday, 9th of July 2014 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the museum, where you can go and meet other people involved in the project. Interviews won't be carried out at the event but staff will arrange a convenient time for you to come and be interviewed about your memories.

Light refreshments will be provided and the museum will be free to look around for the duration of the recruitment event. If you are unable to make it to the open evening but are interested in contributing your memories just email or phone 01273 749 494.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Still Lost in The Toy Museum - A Museums at Night event for Culture24

Something very strange occurred at the Toy Museum on the 17th of May,  something very strange indeed. Something that involved lost toys and people dressed in funny costumes.  This event was "Still Lost in the Toy Museum". An event that gave children (and grown-ups too) an evening of fun, games and creative projects. The event was presided over by the museum’s volunteers who had just as much fun as the children and parents who came.

(Waiting for the children to arrive)
Cakes were eaten, treasure hunts completed and tales told, in general, a wonderful time was had by all.

(Here, have a close up of some cake)
 The highlight of the evening was a story reading, by our resident actor/storyteller, Marc Sinclair.

(Here he is looking awesome in a rainbow waistcoat)
Marc did several readings throughout the evening, which had us all in stitches as he did different funny voices for each character.
(The parents are trying to squeeze themselves into our puppet theatre)
There were also plenty of arts and crafts activities for the children to have fun with, these ranged from puppets to glove rabbits and proved very popular with children and grown-ups alike.
(We’re all having lots of fun.)
Some of our volunteers got jealous and decided that they wanted to play with all of the toys as well.
(I’m a kid honest!)
Toys were hidden throughout the museum for the children to find.
(Shush, be very, very quiet, I’m hiding from the children.)
 Even Buddy the Museum Bear wanted to get in on the action.
(This looks like fun)
At the end of the evening everyone one was very tired and happy, we all agreed the event had been a big success.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Brighton Toy and Model Museum wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Brighton Toy and Model Museum wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Brighton Toy and Model Museum has received £57,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, "Toys in the Community: Valuing Memories of dolls, teddy bears and construction toys".  Involving volunteers from the local community, the 2 year project will collect memories from a range of people and use these to create a website, book and touring exhibition which will visit local venues. It will also run community outreach sessions to enable people to share their memories of toys and handle examples of dolls, teddy bears and construction toys from a range of time periods.
Volunteers involved in the project will be able to learn new skills, including interviewing, photographic and videoing skills. They will also help to curate the touring exhibition.
By interviewing people of all ages and backgrounds, the project will help to create links between different members of the local community through the sharing of memories.
Commenting on the award, Museum Manager Tig Savage said: “We are delighted to have this financial support from HLF. We are looking forward to making our collections more accessible to people who may be unable to visit us due to physical, financial or social reasons and to listening to our contributors’ valued memories. It is my sincere hope that this will forge much stronger links between the Brighton Toy and Model Museum and our community in Brighton and Hove.”
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “Toys from years past stir memories of childhood and community. This project will capture these and in so doing add a new dimension to its fascinating collection.”
Anyone in the Brighton and Hove area who is interested in being involved in the project, either as a volunteer or by being interviewed, is invited to the museum on Wednesday 9th July between 5.30 and 7.30pm, or is welcome to contact the museum on 01273 749494 or by emailing

About Brighton Toy and Model Museum

 Brighton Toy and Model Museum is a treasure trove of toys and models that extends over four thousand square feet of floor space, through four of the Early Victorian arches supporting Brighton Railway Station's forecourt. Founded in 1991, it has over ten thousand toys and models in its catalogue, focusing on the first half of the twentieth century, and including rare vintage model train collections and many period antique toys. Its display area includes two large operational model railway layouts (in 00-gauge and gauge 0), and displays of period pieces from a range of classic early manufacturers that includes Bing, Dinky, Hornby, Marklin, Meccano, Pelham Puppets, and Steiff. The museum also includes individually-engineered pieces such as the working quarter-scale traction engine and the Spitfire fighter planes in the lobby, and a range of other working scale models throughout the museum.
The museum's exhibits and displays undergo constant review and change, the museum itself has recently undergone an extensive world class, innovative lighting refit, with LED lamps now allowing much brighter illumination throughout the museum while still protecting the more sensitive dyes and paints of some of the older items.
The museum, a registered charity, is supported by the collections’ trust – the trustees are made up of a handful of dedicated collectors such as Anthony Capo Bianco, Hugo Marsh (SAS) and Barry Potter. Without their support, such review and change would be very difficult.
A lottery grant in 2012 afforded a year-long celebration and exhibition of the work of Frank Hornby and the museum is about to embark on the next lottery project, reaching into their community for memories, in the form of the Toys in the Community, oral history project.
Entrance to the first of four arches (which also houses the museum shop and Tourist Information Point) is free, and the museum's handy location beneath Brighton Station makes it a great stopping-off point for visitors to Brighton to pick up maps and tourist information before seeing the rest of the city.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK.