Fun and games at Abbey House

In the social history department we have collections of objects relating to all  aspects of every day life – be it daily household living, sports and social activities or working life. I have recently had the chance to develop my knowledge of one particularly interesting area of the collection – our toys and games!

At Abbey House Museum we are soon to be re-displaying one of our galleries, and are taking the opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic ‘boys toys’ we have in the collection. I say ‘boys toys’ as they are the toys traditionally associated with boys, but don’t worry – hopefully they are something everyone can enjoy. As a bit of a teaser for  later in the Autumn , I thought I’d share a couple of my favourites so far.

This garage was manufactured in Germany by Schuco, but the original catalogue entry had little other information. Using the internet I managed to find a picture of an identical one online, which gave me a manufacture date of around 1938. At first glance the telephone seemed rather large and conspicuous, but I wasn’t immediately sure why. Then underneath the website description it gave instructions on ways to open the garage. This was either by pulling the phone cord or pressing down on the phone cradle. I gave it a go and the doors popped straight open and out rolled a black car I hadn’t known was there!

My next choice is a horsebox. As with a number of our cars and trains it still lives in an immaculate box and has not really been touched for many years, if ever. I read on the side that the item was a horsebox, so when I took it out of the box to get a photograph I noticed two pairs of legs in the window. After carefully managing to get the door open, it soon became obvious that the horse was upside down. After looking into an identical horsebox, I found that the horse was in the same position which got me to thinking – how many previous owners of this particular model of train carriage had kept it in mint boxed condition, and never even realised that their horse was upside down!


This final item is probably my favourite so far. We have a large collection of boxed corgi cars dating from the 1960s that were bought at the time for the museum collection. Some of these are beautifully put together sets with several boxed cars and are now highly sought after items. My personal favourite is Corgi Gift Set No. 15 – the Silverstone Circuit racing set. The set itself comes complete with everything you need from a plastic mat to act as a display circuit to cars, press boxes and race officials. It also includes paints and glue for assembling the parts of the stands. Once this came out of the box it was popular with everyone who saw it, so it has temporarily been put on display at Leeds Museums Discovery Centre until August, and will be transferred over to Abbey House in the Autumn.


Nicola Pullan
Assistant Curator of Leeds and Social History

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