I was born in Liskeard in Cornwall in 1936. I have always loved toys. I come from a long line of wood and metal workers, radio repairers, train drivers, milliners and miners. My dad was a wheelwright and journey man and let me play in his workshop from an early age. I started to make things out of wood and haven’t stopped since, except for my National Service and going through a bad patch (cured by a friendly physician with a machine wielding 30.000volts at 12 milli-amps). During formative years in the second world war naturally I made toy guns and became chief toy armourer for the whole town. My early teens were
mis-spent taking old radio sets to bits to see how they worked, consequently giving myself shocks and a taste for electricity; but at the same time, a keen interest in mechanical things and a sense of ‘make-do and mend’. After school I went to art school and learnt, among other things, to paint and draw.
With credentials after my name and a good wife and kids, now was the moment to ‘decide what to do with the rest of my life?. Everything pointed to becoming a toymaker so that’s what I did, doing a bit of teaching now and then to make ends meet. To get my business ‘off the ground’ I thought it would be a good idea to make the toys that were my favorites when I was a kid – they were the chicken that lays five eggs, ship and submarine, horse racing game and pop-pop boat – I was not wrong. My knowledge of how toys could be made to sell came from my toymaker friend Jack Gould, also Youtha Rose and Kristin Baybars, members of the Toymakers Guild. Other influences came from tinplate toy manufacturers, especially the Germans.
I have a passion for folk toys and have been to the Appallachian Mountains and studied the work of Dick Schnack of Mountain Crafts www.folktoys.com and the work of the Foxfire Group www.foxfire.com. I am a fully-paid up member of the Crafts Council www.craftscouncil.org.uk and Caberet Mechanical Museum. CMT is the inspiration of former love Sue Jackson – (now run by Sue’s daughter Sarah) and has been a true help to automata makers from all over the world - including Cornwall and Columbia www.cabaret.co.uk. I am well known for my circus toys and have made a circus for my friend Marvin who runs Marvin’s Mechanical Theatre in Farmington, Detroit, USA www.marvin3m.com.
I am a founder member of CRAFTCO where my work is sometimes for sale and where you can see my circus toys. I have designed English Postage Stamps for the Royal Mail which can be bought from stamp shops. My work can be seen in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), the Crafts Council, Sudbury Museum of Childhood, CMT and CRAFTCO. I am married to Mossy and have three boys and four foster daughters.