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52-55 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4EB
Tues-Sat 10am(11am Sat) -5pm (last entry 4:30pm), £4

Brighton Toy and Model Museum

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is a run of four Victorian cellars below the Brighton Station taxi rank, that is absolutely encrusted with period model locomotives, Meccano, puppets, large overhead radio-controlled aircraft, Punch and Judy sets, two large complete model railways, and a little of almost anything else you can think of. It focuses mostly on toys and models from a period from the late Nineteeth Century to around the 1960's, and has an overwhelming collection of examples of the toymaker's art from old English and Bavarian model train manufacturers. It's like the toy equivalent of a batcave.
Most of the trains are twice the size of modern model trains, many are clockwork or steam-powered and the sizes go up to a massive working six-footer steam-powered model locomotive in the museum's top arch. There's also Meccano and other construction toys (there's a 4½-foot motorised Meccano Ferriswheel in the foyer) and a surprising number of little painted lead farm, circus and zoo animals, forts, soft toys, and paper and matchstick models. Large school visits are usually scheduled for Mondays (when the museum's normally closed to the rest of us), and the Museum's educational staff can be booked to put on special talks and puppet shows.

There's also a Tourist Information Point, so it's a good place for visitors arriving by train to pick up a map and tourist directions and peruse the "Glamour of Brighton" display in the foyer. As an information point it's conveniently located for people who've just got off the train and want a quick map or directions, provided that they don't turn up too early, or on a Monday. The museum's info point has some very useful free maps provided by Visit Brighton, which can tell you the most interesting way to get to Brighton's main attractions, and to the main Visitor Centre by the Pavilion.

The street that houses the toy museum is strange. It's a little like the "Platform 13¾" in the Harry Potter books  - it's invisible unless you look at it from exactly the right angle. You have to turn right immediately after exiting the station, and then turn around and look back the way that you came, and you'll see a strange sort of sort of road tunnel ducking underneath the pavement that everyone else is walking over. The railings outside the station, that look like they're there to let people chain up their bikes, are actually there to stop people falling into the mouth of Trafalgar Street.

Downsides? There's no tearoom, so if you get off the train and you're gasping for a coffee, you'll need to grab one at the station first. Most of the large period trains on the central trainset are only run on special occasions (although there's a hidden plastic button that makes one train do a single circuit). The displays could do with more interactive pushbuttons, and although there are teddybears and building sets, and planes and boats and dolls and Dinky toys, there's a notable emphasis on the trains, so if you deeply dislike trains, this probably isn't the place to be.

The museum isn't council-owned like most of Brighton's other museums, so it's mostly staffed by volunteers and has a ticket price of four quid for an adult. But it doesn't cost anything to wander round the first section. 
Central model railway layout, Brighton Toy and Model MuseumBrighton Toy and Model MuseumBrighton Toy and Model Museum

Brighton Toy and Model Museum homepage