Conference session

17 Jul

Workshop members presented a paper at the prestigious Oral History Society conference on July 5. Held at Sussex University, the conference session looked at our work on the Hawker Siddeley electrical transformer factory in Fulbourne Road, walthamstow.

Bright sparks Janet Bowstead and Robert Wilkinson led the presentation.


Toy-making in Walthamstow

17 Jul

Did you see the story in the WF Guardian on June 17 about our toys project?

We’ve had an amazing response with some great contacts to get us going. But we still need more people who worked at Brimtoy or Britains!

Email us at or call Robert Wilkinson on 8530 4847.

This was the full press release:

Press Release

Toy-making in Walthamstow and Chingford: were you there?

Did you work at one of the local toy-making firms such as Wells Brimtoy, Lesney or Britains? If so, you could play a role in capturing an important part of the borough’s local history.

The Waltham Forest Oral History Workshop is working with Vestry House Museum to record the memories of people who worked in the toy manufacturing industry locally. Although all these firms have now left the area, many Waltham Forest residents may have memories of working at one of them. Wells Brimtoy were an amalgamation of two firms in 1932 and are probably best remembered for their ‘O’ gauge railway models. They moved from Somers Road to nearby Stirling Road sometime after 1938. They then moved to Holyhead in north Wales around 1965 but appear to have closed down soon after.

The origins of Britains go back to the mid-19th century when their main focus was making cast lead toy soldiers. They came to Walthamstow around 1931. In 1966 they made their last lead toy soldier, having manufactured over 1,000 million since the end of the 19th century. The transfer to plastic toys led to even greater success. As well as plastic toys they also made die cast models of vehicles, mostly tractors and farm machinery.

Although their main factory was based in Hackney, Lesney, makers of the famous Matchbox Toys, had a small factory in Chingford. There is very little information about what was made there. Members of the Workshop are keen to hear from anyone who worked at this outpost.

If you worked in any of these factories what did you make and what were the conditions on the factory floor or in the offices? How interesting was your job? If you are able to help, members of the Workshop are keen to record your memories.

Email us at or call Robert Wilkinson on 8530 4847.



Toy-making in Walthamstow

12 Apr

We’re looking for people who know about Walthamstow’s history of toy-making, incuding the brilliant Brittain’s from all of our childhoods.

If you worked in the toy-making industry, if your family did, or know anything else, call us on 0845 838 5121 (M-F, 1000-1800, or leave a message) and one of our skilled interviewers will be in touch.


New start

12 Apr

We had to start again with WordPress because Google didn’t like our name.