Growing up in Bodmin, Cornwall in the 18th century, William Hamley might have become a tin miner. Or a fisherman. But he had other ideas... William founded what is today known as Hamleys. The shop was originally called 'Noah's Ark' and opened at High Holborn in London in 1760. The toy shop was highly convenient for the wealthy families of Bloomsbury when buying toys for their children.

By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Hamleys was already a London landmark. Families flocked to William's 'Joy Emporium', now owned by his grandsons. So successful was the shop that in 1881 a new branch opened in Regent Street. To cope with the public's growing appetite for playthings, Hamleys added a further five floors of toys.

The Holborn branch was destroyed by fire in 1901 and was relocated from 231 to 86-87 High Holborn. Even being bombed five times in the Blitz did not stop Hamleys. Wearing tin hats, staff served at the shop entrance, rushing in to collect the toys then handing them over at the door.

The business has survived in various forms to the present day, and at one time was the largest toy shop in the world. Hamleys moved to its current Regent Street premises in 1981. The store is considered one of London's major tourist attractions, and receives about five million visitors a year.

Updated: 2 September 2021

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Hamleys value and price guide

What's your Hamleys worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
merrythought hamleys teddy bear growler limited edition Merrythought Hamleys Teddy Bear Growler Limited Edition 09/2021 £72.60
bnwt hamleys police bear emily goodheart rare soft toy Bnwt Hamleys Police Bear Emily Goodheart Rare Soft Toy 09/2021 £80.00
steiff bear tobias for hamleys limited edition 122 of Steiff Bear Tobias For Hamleys Limited Edition 122 Of 10/2021 £75.53
steiff bear charlotte exclusively for hamleys Steiff Bear Charlotte Exclusively For Hamleys 10/2021 £65.00
hamleys large teddy bear condition xmas Hamleys Large Teddy Bear Condition Xmas 08/2021 £50.00
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices11/2021£-.--

Hamleys forum

"Ask questions or share your stories." - John, Fabtintoys

Doll forum temporarily closed... Sorry for the inconvenience (9 September 2021). Scroll down the comments to see if you can find answers you're looking for.

1 comment
Alan - December 29, 2019
Hi, around 1954 my parents bought me a clockwork red taxi, about 5 inches long. This taxi went in circles but also overturned and righted itself. It went missing when I was in my teens. Have you any knowledge of this toy? It looked like an American car but could have been made in Germany. Thanks, Alan.
I'm terribly sorry but I have no idea... If you have a picture somewhere you can send it to