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Toys were made in Chesham for many years. Typically, the woodware manufacturers produced hoops, spades, cricket bats as well as their range of household goods.
However, in 1910, a new entrant, Selfridge & Co. Ltd, commenced specialist toy manufacturing in Severalls Avenue. For eight years they made mainly wooden toys under the name of “The Happy Day Toy Company”.
Meantime another toy manufacturer was established in Chesham. Its roots go back to Germany–the 1880s when the firm of Eisenmann & Co was founded by Josef Eisenmann.
In 1908 Josef’s son-in-law, Leon Rees, approached the English soft toy manufacturers J.K.Farnell & Co and persuaded them to begin making teddy bears. In 1913, Josef set up his own factory at 101 Bellingdon Road. Initial work was the production of dolls for the London Evening Standard.
Subsequently manufacturing changed to other toys. Their first bear, “The Master Teddy”, was made in 1915. He was a funny looking creature with googly eyes, dressed cotton body and a red tongue.
When Josef died in 1919, Leon inherited the business and he decided to go into partnership with Harry Stone, an old friend from Farnells. They formed H.G.Stone & Co and moved to larger premises in Waterside and “Chiltern Toys” was born.
In 1921, The House of Rees was formed comprising L.Rees & Co, which became the parent company, H.G.Stone & Co and the Amersham Woodware and Sports Works. From its factory at the junction of Moor Road and Amersham Road they made a large range of wooden toys, such as dolls prams, pedal cars, dolls houses and castles, dolls house furniture, train sets, etc.
At the outset of World War II toy making ceased in Chesham as the Waterside factory was required for war work. To meet the demand for Chiltern Toys after “VE-day” work was transferred from Waterside to the Amersham Works, which continued to make teddy bears and some wooden toys.
Sadly, production ceased in 1960 when all work was transferred to Wales and Chesham lost another industry.
You can view our digital toy factory exhibition and read more about local toy manufacturing in Keith’s Chesham toys: a brief history of local manufacture