Take a guided tour of the History House gallery which offers hands-on experience

A new hands-on show has been compiled at the History House with the idea of giving today’s children an insight into what their grandparents played with.

It’s a room full of toys, many from a half century or more ago.

The thing that jumps out is that many of them were made by the children themselves. This was not a world where toys were easily available to order over the internet. If you wanted a toy, you got some cardboard and a scissors.

Olga Dawson.

Olga Dawson.

That’s what strikes one of the organisers, Olga Dawes. She particularly likes a set of doll’s house furniture made out of matchboxes. There are also clothes for dolls made put of paper shapes a child would cut out.

She says that what the exhibition really needs is more old toys for boys. They have a Meccano set but toys for girls are in much greater abundance.

The idea is to provide a hands-on experience for today’s children so there are old typewriters and phones – not toys in themselves but objects which young people now can pick up and play with to get a real feel – literally, a feel – for what previous generations used.

There’s also a mystery box of objects which would have been utterly familiar in New England fifty years ago but which have vanished. The task is to identify them.

The show runs in conjunction with a classroom exhibition, with a room set up like and old school. Volunteers dress up in period costume and teach kids to give them an experience of old-time schooling (minus the discipline).

They use quills and ink. Remember them?

It’s a long way from the internet.