Listen to this podcast about the biggest toy shop in the world.
Voice 1: Let’s take a walk up Regent Street in central of London because today we have an appointment at one of the most famous shops in the world. It is huge, covering many floors. It is magical. It's a place where children and teens rule and adults take a back seat. It's Hamleys, the biggest toyshop on the planet.
Voice 2: A toy and a child is a natural combination, and even the most sophisticated teenager will admit secretly that he or she has a favourite toy. Toys change character and significant as a child passes from childhood to their teens. But a toy is toy, and you can find them all at Hamleys. The shop is floor after floor of toys of all shapes and sizes and nothing else. For over three centuries, this remarkable shop has made dreams come true for generations of children and teens.
Voice 1: Hamleys is as almost big a tourist attraction in London as Buckingham Palace or the London Eye. The store covers five thousand square metres and seven floors. So, how did this shopping phenomenon start?
Voice 2: In 1760, a young man called William Hamley moved to London from his village home in the south-west of England. He had a big vision for his future, and he could only fulfil this in the country’s capital. William wanted to open a shop that sold only toys, and he wanted to stock it with the newest and most interesting toys in Britain.
Voice 1: William’s business started off small. He found premises in the outskirts of the city and opened his dream shop. He crammed it full with every type of toy he could lay his hands on: wooden dolls, tin soldiers, skipping ropes, hoops and wooden rocking horses. He called his shop ‘Noah’s Ark’.
Voice 2: Word quickly spread around London about this new toyshop. Families, rich and poor, flocked to ‘Noah’s Ark’. Rich parents bought expensive toys for their children while poor families bought rag dolls and little wooden figures. William did a roaring trade, and soon his shop had to move to bigger premises. The business moved to fashionable Regent Street in the late 1800s. Youngsters from royal princesses to poor working-class children all pestered their parents to take them to ‘Hamleys’.
Voice 1: One interesting fact about the shop name is that it doesn't contain an apostrophe. If you say "William Hamley's dream", there is an apostrophe - S after Hamley. But there isn't one in the shop name.
Voice 2: During the Second World War, Hamleys was bombed five times, but the business survived. Even Adolf Hitler was not powerful enough to destroy the biggest toyshop in the world. During the last sixty years, the fame of Hamleys has continued to grow. In 2008, the company opened in Dubai, and there are plans to open a store in China.
Voice 1: But Hamleys' directors will always make sure that the Regent Street flagship store stays the biggest toyshop in the world. London would not be London without Hamleys.