Paddington Bear was famously “a hopeful bear at heart,” the author Michael Bond wrote. It is hoped that a group of Paddington’s kinfolk, the many elderly teddy bears that have spent their lives in Pollock’s Toy Museum in London, share his optimism—as they are about to be re-homed.
Pollock’s Toy Museum, the oldest toy museum in the UK and a much-loved London curio, has now closed, and its bears—and many other items—will now be held in a dark room away from the public.
The museum has been nestled behind Goodge Street in London’s Fitzrovia since 1969, but has now been forced to close after the museum’s trust was unable to negotiate a new contract with the owners of the Georgian house in which it is situated.
The museum’s collection of antique teddy bears, dolls, games and toys are now in storage and will remain there unless “major capital funding” is found to enable the museum to reopen again in a new location, the museum’s custodians, Jack Fawdry-Tatham and Emily Baker, say in a statement published on their website.
The collection also includes a large number of toy theatres created by the Victorian-era publisher John Kilby Green. In the first half of the 1800s, Kilby Green’s toy theatres, which were hand-made and sold, were popular with children of the age.
“Due to a change in circumstances regarding the ownership of the buildings, we have not been able to negotiate a sustainable future for the museum collection at its current premises,” say Baker and Fawdry-Tatham, who also run the Pollock’s Toy Museum Trust. "Although this is heartbreaking news, we are hoping this will be the a scene change and not the final act.”
The museum was first established in 1956 by Marguerite Fawdry, who once ran a toy shop in London. The museum was initially held in an attic room on London’s Monmouth Street, close to Covent Garden before moving to 41 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, in 1969.
"I am greatly saddened by this news," says Clare Finn, an art conservator and member of The Critics' Circle, in an interview with The Art Newspaper. "I have known and visited the museum since my childhood. It is so much more than a mere tourist attraction. Its situation within that building encapsulates much more—it preserves an aura of another time. It is very sad to see it go but, in these hard economic times, this may be the fate of many small museums."
The museum has launched a fundraiser to cover expenses and move to a new venue.