Playful Pasts at the House of Manannan Search of iMuseum

Playful Pasts at the House of Manannan

Posted on 01.02.2018

Who remembers Saturday afternoons spent in Toymaster or Colebourn’s Computers? Take a trip down memory lane at the House of Manannan’s exhibition Playful Pasts: Our journey with Toys, a celebration of toys and play on the Isle of Man.

Image ref: L22854/6. Presentation of popular Scalextric set and cars to prize winners in Toymaster toyshop, Duke’s Road, 1980s. Fred Powell, shop owner is positioned far right.

The exhibition looks at toys and their development over thousands of years. The collection starts from the Neolithic period with a toy axe head, and showcases objects up to the 1990s. A giant scrabble board, puppets from Fraggle Rock, Scalextrix and electro classics such as the Gameboy offer buckets of nostalgia. On display is a Vikings merels board – the oldest board game in the Manx National Heritage collections – which dates from 900AD.

The exhibition includes beautiful art work and toys from wartime, when children played during times of conflict and unrest on the Island.

Image ref:  PG/7826-5. Brigitte Jedermann and her doll. Brigitte was interned at Rushen camp with her family during World War Two.

Image ref: PG/7826-2. Children interned at Rushen Camp played on Chapel Beach in Port St Mary during WW2. Brigitte Jedermann (girl) and David Hess (boy).

A unique photograph album provides a treasured insight into the life of Edwardian child Horace Cleator Cowen. Horace’s father was photographer George Bellett Cowen, owner of the Photographic Studio Ramsey. The album illustrates the life of his son from a two-week old baby into adulthood.

The centrepiece is a Meccano bike on which James May made his epic circuit of the TT course .  To coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Manx Grand Prix in 2013, a challenge was set to produce a bike capable of completing the 37.8 mile TT circuit from the infamous construction toy. Quirky inventor Simeon Oakley used over 600 nuts and bolts in each wheel alone. Over 15,000 pieces of standard Meccano were used in the build overall, taking nine weeks to complete.

On entering the gallery you’ll spot a wooden carousel horse, originally a seat from the Victorian water powered roundabout in Silverdale Glen, near Ballasalla.

Children would sit upon the horse whilst an adult held open the sluice to divert water from the river to turn the roundabout. Silverdale Glen was developed as an attraction in the late 19th century.

Image ref: 2003-0190/1. Painted wooden carousel horse from Silverdale Glen

You’ll also see a selection of treasured toys loaned by the Island’s community. Do you have any favourite toys, or toy memories you’d like to share? Email exhibition curator Anthea Young at We’d love to hear from you.

Playful Pasts: Our journey with Toys is a free exhibition open at the House of Manannan from 2nd December 2017 until 1st April 2018.

Blog Archive

October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
January 2023
June 2022
May 2022
March 2022
February 2022
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
February 2021
December 2020
November 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
March 2018
February 2018
December 2017
November 2017
September 2017
June 2017
May 2017
March 2017
February 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
August 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015