No-Tourist London No.4 – Pollocks Toy Museum
What an odd place this is. A combined shop and toy museum in Whitfield Street, just behind Charlotte Street, it started life as a Victorian toy theatre shop (and still sells them, but only Ali Baba and Cinderella), but moved to its present position from Covent Garden in 1969. This morning it opened randomly around three quarters of an hour late, and the man behind the counter chatted on the phone for ten minutes before casually asking what I wanted. The only other person there was a bemused-looking Japanese girl.
The museum has, frankly, seen better days, but it still retains a strange charm in its winding narrow brown corridors. The shop hardly has anything to buy apart from the admittedly sweet theatres, and the modern kids’ toy section is rubbish, but it’s just about worth a visit – partly because we’d all miss it if it wasn’t there. However, it needs a bit of love and better stock. Having said that, I was able to purchase the one final piece of research material I needed for the next Bryant & May novel.
Still, Pollocks is more fun than the disastrously ruined Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, which seems to have confused its brief and turned into The Bethnal Green Museum For Children (complete with vast cafe and play area, and actual exhibits relegated to upstairs).
So – pop along to Pollocks if you’re passing, and don’t expect crowds!