Eighteenth Century Toy Shops in Worcester

  • 10th January 2019
In the eighteenth century Worcester had a wide variety of shops and evidence has been found to show that this included fashionable toy shops. Here we explore a little bit more about where these shops were located in the city.
What we think of as toy shops now are very different to what they were in the Eighteenth Century. The term could mean any small item, including buckles, buttons and trinkets made with materials such as metal, leather or glass. The industry expanded from the mid Eighteenth Century, with Birmingham famous for its toy making industry.


The first mention of a toyshop in Worcester we have found so far is in the Berrow’s Journal on 26th March 1742. This was Mr Southall’s toy shop in the High Street. The entry in the newspaper is advertising a benefit concert at the Guildhall. Tickets could be bought at the toy shop, one of the coffee houses or The Globe Inn. We can therefore imagine that the toy shop was a very fashionable establishment.


If we fast forward to 1790, the Worcester directory lists a Miss Wilson having a toy shop in the High Street and Mr Maddox having a toy warehouse in Mealcheapen Street. Looking a little bit further Miss Wilson (sometimes referred to as Mrs Wilson) appears to have been Mary Wilson, who died and left a will proved in 1795, leaving money to various people including Mr Maddox as well as to local prominent Quaker Timothy Bevington, the Wesleyan Meeting House and the Worcester Infirmary. Her establishment appears to have been 78 High Street, the fabulous building, which is now Trailfinders.

78 High Street – Location of Mary Wilson’s toy shop


Mr Maddox appears to have been John Maddox, who is listed as a toyman at 1 Mealcheapen Street. In 1793 James Pitts was admitted and sworn as a freeman of the city as apprentice to John Maddox toymaker. Not much more has been found about Mr Maddox, but he appears to have died in 1808.

Mealcheapen Street – Location of the toy warehouse of Mr Maddox



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