In 1932 Harry Page (born 1904), along with several partners, including Warwick Allpass, a friend from Shrewsbury, decided to go into the toy business. Using Page's savings of 100 pounds, they opened a small toy shop called 'Kiddicraft' at 6 Godstone Road, Purley, Surrey. At first he imported wood toys from Russia, such as stacking rings and matryoshka nesting dolls and later began to introduce his own designs. The business was a struggle and he ended up in bankruptcy court. A period he described as 'most difficult.' The bankruptcy was finally discharged in 1937.
Nevertheless he continued to work on new toy designs and, perhaps most importantly, began to seriously study early childhood play. Or more specifically '...he used to spend the whole of every Wednesday in a different nursery school, sitting on the floor and playing with the children, to find out exactly what type of toys would be of the greatest interest to them.'The application of child psychology to toy design, while now commonplace, was revolutionary at the time. The result was a range of toys designed around specific stages of childhood development, a philosophy he described in his first book - Playtime in the First Five Years (Watson & Crossland Limited, 1938).
Kiddicraft was the predecessor of Lego bricks. In 1939 Page applied for a patent for 'Toy Building Blocks'. In this and subsequent patents he described hollow bricks with 4 and 8 studs on top. These 'Self Locking Bricks' were manufactured as a Hilary Page 'Sensible' Toy, made in England after the 1939-45 war.
Lego copied the design of the Kiddicraft brick after examining a sample given to them by the British supplier of an injection moulding machine they had purchased. Page was never aware of this, and his daughter has stated that she 'was relieved that my father never knew about Lego before he died.' Lego eventually acquired the rights to Kiddicraft in 1981 prior to beginning litigation against Tyco.
Read more on the history of Kiddicraft on hilarypagetoys.com.
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