Belfast Telegraph

Playtime favourites beloved by children form nostalgic exhibition

The treasure trove of well -loved toys ... so can you name them? See below for the answers!

By Claire McNeilly

A Co Down museum will be showing its own Toy Story this Christmas. The wide-ranging exhibition features toys from decades ago and includes board games, action figures and cuddly toys - as well as everything from Star Wars figures to Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Already boasting high visitor numbers, North Down Museum's Toy Stories offers a festive reminder of how much joy toys have brought to children at Christmas over the years, often long after the gift was given.

The 130 showpieces are not collectors' items - all the toys have played a role in the lives and happy memories of their owners.

Among the treasures are two special exhibits belonging to 67-year-old Newtownards resident Sheila Seymour who donated her teddy bears for this event.

Goldie is the "well-worn, gold" Merrythought Bear from London store Harrods, which Sheila's relatives had clubbed together to buy her. His friend Bruno is made of surplus army blankets, parachute silk and stuffed with straw.

Sheila, who was born in west London but has been living in Co Down with her mother Nellie Timberlake (99) for nine years, said the bears were waiting for her when she came home from hospital.

"I wouldn't part with either of them," said the retired tutor, whose father passed away in Bangor in 1994, aged 79.

"We were a very ordinary family at a time when the average wage was £4 a week but my relatives clubbed together and bought me Goldie from Harrods because it was the only place they thought they'd be able to get one.

"Then my parents bought me Bruno; he's a post-war austerity bear and I wanted people to be able to appreciate him.

"The three of us have been through a lot together over the years; we've had measles, mumps, chicken pox... I couldn't have sent one of the bears to the exhibition without the other."

Museum co-cordinator Donna Wilson (49), from Bangor, has entrusted the exhibition with a 1965 James Bond Annual, a Rubik's Cube and a bear called Ted.

She said all the memorabilia is going down well with children whose grandparents have been bringing them in to see the collection dating back over half a century.

"The annual was bought nine years ago on eBay as a present for my son Ross (now aged 18) because 1965 is the year his dad, Martin, was born," she said.

"My husband has a man cave at home; that's where I found the Rubik's cube and decided to donate that.

"The teddy bear is mine; it's the same age as me. My aunt and uncle bought it for me for my first Christmas. He's a traditional brown and beige teddy wih pads on his paws and he has a felt tongue."

Donna added: "Ted was always there for me growing up and he still sits on my bed."

Bangor grandmother-of-two Barbara Walker (69) has lent her oldest daughter Jennifer's Cabbage Patch Doll to the exhibition.

"We bought Belinda in a shop in Holywood when Jennifer was six years old," Barbara recalled.

"Belinda was very special to Jennifer. She treated her like a baby. That's why she's in such good condition today.

"I remember how she used to dress her and put newborn nappies on her."

North Down Museum manager Heather McGuicken said it was fun putting the exhibition together.

"There is an amazing range of toys that span the decades," she said.

"We hope everyone will enjoy as much as we do, and our thanks to those who have loaned us their precious toys."

Children are invited to play with traditional toys, dress up and to write a letter to Santa which they can post from the museum post box.

  • The exhibition is open until January 21, during museum opening hours. Admission is free. For further information log on to: northdownmuseum.com

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