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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

Hamleys – London, England

Hamleys is an international chain of toy stores that springs from a single toy shop opened by William Hamley in London, England in 1760.

Hamleys’ history is long and storied. William Hamley opened the first of his stores, Noah’s Ark, in 1760 on High Holborn in London. The store quickly made fans of children, parents, and even British royalty. The popularity of the store grew to the point where a second shop was open on Regent Street to expand the store’s offerings. Shortly after the opening of the second store, a massive fire destroyed the original shop, making Regent Street the company’s flagship store, a store that today encompasses 7 floors and 54000 square feet. The store survived two World Wars and many economic challenges. Hamleys briefly closed during The Great Depression but was resuscitated when a new owners took over operations and built the toy-store empire we know today.

William Hamley could hardly predict the massive success that came from his original vision. Hamleys on Regent Street is the oldest and largest toy store in the world and the company has grown to over 60 franchises worldwide. The company was also issued the Royal Warrant of Appointment by the British Royal Family, an honour bestowed on valued suppliers of goods and services to the Royals.

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Plan your next vacation to include a visit to a play-related store, museum, or private collection.