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BITE Sussex champions Brighton Toy & Model Museum in 2023

Brighton Toy and Model Museum general manager Jan Etches with museum founder Chris Littledale

This month, Brighton Toy and Model Museum announced it has passed the fundraising half way mark for the Trafalgar Street Regeneration Project, writes Nick Mosley.

BITE Sussex partners raised over £800 for the initiative in August 2022 and is planning a further fundraising event for Sunday 30 April 2023 with the team from Isaac At and local distilleries. Expect retro-themed sweet and savoury snacks and unique one-off cocktails from Sussex's leading spirit producers that are themed on toys from the museum's collection.

The world-renowned museum is undertaking a significant structural and place-building initiative to improve both own its frontage and the wider appearance of the Trafalgar Street underpass where it is located below Brighton Station.

The scheme – which will cost in the region of £100,000 – will see three of the currently bricked up arches opened up and glazed, along with new lighting across the museum facade. The Railway Heritage Trust have already pledged 40% with the museum allocating a further 10%. Fundraising and donations throughout 2022 have added a further £15,000 to the all-important total.

“Although we have a fantastic central location in the city, the top end of Trafalgar Street isn’t the most welcoming of places for tourists to visit and we want to change that”, said Jan Etches, general manager of the museum.

“The regeneration project will not only make the museum and our wonderful collection more visible to passersby but also improve the underpass for the benefit of all businesses and residents in our area of North Laine”.

The Brighton Toy and Model Museum holds an internationally important collection from the golden age of British and European toy-making including a one-of-its-kind 1930s gauge 0 model railway layout created by the museum’s founder and director, Chris Littledale.

“It’s such a pleasure to witness the joy on the faces of both our younger guests – and their young-at-heart parents and grandparents – as they explore familiar and not-so-familiar toys from bygone days”, said Jan.

“Recognisable brand names include Dinky, Meccano, Lego, Hornby and Britains sit alongside Steiff teddy bears, Victorian dolls and Pelham Puppets. We are privileged to be able to have such an extensive number of exhibits”.

In addition to the main collection, the museum also carries out important restoration, research and digitisation work including a 9,000 page online encyclopaedia and image library used as a unique resource by organisations and individuals globally.

Before and after architectural plans of the proposed new museum facade

There are a number of ways that individuals and businesses can support the museum and its regeneration project, starting at a pocket-money friendly £5 for a limited edition enamel museum badge.

A handcrafted bespoke plaque that will be displayed in perpetuity inside the museum is available from £200 and the perfect way to celebrate or recognise a life moment. There’s also an opportunity to sponsor one of the top ten treasures in the museum – many of which are the only toys and models of the kind that are still in existence. Corporate sponsors are invited to sponsor one of the three new glazed arches, with prominent branding included.

An example of how the new frontage will look

General manager Jan is also keen for the museum to be used for private parties, meetings and entertaining.

“Another way to support our development is to hire the venue for a private event. We’ve hosted both family celebrations and business networking in recent months”, said Jan.

“We offer exclusive hire every evening from 5pm. The feedback from attendees to previous events has been phenomenal. We are such a unique space; the museum really lends itself to guests engaging with each other and the collection itself, especially over a glass of wine and canapés”.

To find out more about the Brighton Toy and Model Museum’s Trafalgar Street Regeneration Project and ways to support, visit or call general manager Jan Etches for an informal chat on 01273 749 494.


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