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Hamleys History


Do you know how Hamleys became the London Landmark it is today?

 

In fact, the Hamleys story began in Cornwall, England, with a man called William Hamley who could have become a tin miner, or a fisherman…but he had other ideas. William dreamed of opening a toy shop, and in 1760 he did just that, little did he know that it would become The Finest Toy Shop in the World.

With humble beginnings as Noahs Ark in 1760, by 1837 Hamleys was already a famous London landmark with families flocking to visit the “joy emporium”.

So successful was the shop, that in 1881 a new branch opened in Regent Street to cope with the hugely growing demand of the Hamleys signature fun, magic and theatre for all to enjoy.

Hamleys added a further five floors of toys! We can only imagine the spectacle with toy theatres, puppets, pedal cars and miniature railway trains jostled for space in the largest toy shop in the world.

Hamleys faced hard times in the late 1920s, along with everybody else. In 1931, the shop was forced to close for the first time and its fleet of horse-drawn delivery vans was stilled. But this story has a happy ending! Walter Lines, the Chairman of the Tri-Ang company, bought Hamleys and worked hard to bring customers back. In 1938, his efforts were rewarded.

Did you know… Queen Mary gave Hamleys the Royal Warrant in 1938?

Even World War II did not stop Hamleys when the building was bombed 5 times. Wearing tin hats, staff served at the shop entrance, rushing in to collect the toys then handing them over at the door.

The Festival of Britain in 1951 brought a Grand Doll's Salon as well as a vast model railway to amaze children - and their mothers and fathers. When she came to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II showed she still remembered the toys her grandmother had given her. She in turn gave Hamleys toys to her own children.

In 1955, her Majesty honoured Walter Lines with a second Royal Warrant as a 'Toys and Sports Merchant'. But it was the children's smiles that truly rewarded Walter Lines and his staff.

So, there you have it, that’s how Hamleys became the London Landmark it is today! From one man’s dream to bring toys and joy to the children of Cornwall in 1760, to millions of children visiting from all over the World.

Today we find Hamleys in its famous location at 188-196 Regent Street, London, England. Walk through the doors and enter a world of fun, magic and theatre at the Finest Toy Shop in the World. Over the squeaking, bleeping, whizzing and chiming of toys, you hear children laughing excitedly as they explore and play on seven wonderous floors of all the best toys and games.

The toys may have changed, but if he were here today, we're sure William Hamley would recognise the same delighted faces as he guided you round the shop he dreamt of as a boy.