Peter Francis Baldwin, actor, was born on 29th. July 1933.
Baldwin’s love of 19th-century toy theatres – which he continued collecting as an adult – led him to work at Pollock’s Toy Museum, in London, while resting between acting jobs in the 1970s. In 1980, when the museum opened Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden, he became part-time manager and, eight years later, took over ownership with his brother. In1988, he staged an exhibition of toy theatres at the National Theatre and, in 1992, published a book, Toy Theatres of the World. He made a name for himself on one of the biggest stages of British TV – Coronation Street – but away from the limelight actor Peter Baldwin was a man whose lifelong passion was toy theatres.
He adored them, he collected them and at one time was even part-owner of Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in London’s Covent Garden which sold them. According to his family, Peter’s life changed forever when, at the age of 12, he was taken to see Peter Pan and his parents gave him a Pollock’s toy theatre. He went into the acting profession touring in repertory theatre and working with the Bristol Old Vic theatre company where he toured the world in Zefferelli’s production of Romeo and Juliet. What followed was a varied career in theatre, radio and television, both in the UK and abroad.
According to his family, it led him to work in Pollock’s Toy Theatre museum in Scala Street, London, and then as manager of Pollocks Toyshop in Covent Garden, which he invested in with his brother in 1986. Though no longer connected to the family, the shop still flourishes. Throughout his life he collected juvenile drama avidly, buying at auctions and from dealers and other collectors. He was particularly interested in performance. Peter toured Britain and the continent using his collection, reviving a lost art and bringing to life long-lost plays. The Corsican Brothers and the Miller and his Men were his favourites.
In 1988, his collection was exhibited at the National Theatre in London and, later, at the Museum of Childhood in Lancashire. In fact, some of his toy theatres are going to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. His passion for juvenile drama and performance, and the little known continental juvenile drama, led to his publication of Toy Theatres of the World, Zwemmer 1992. Theatre historian George Speaight wrote the foreword. “Peter was an acknowledged global expert on juvenile drama and was president of the British
Puppet Guild. This collection is quite extraordinary and will generate interest around the world.” Peter died at home on 21st. October 2015 Hampstead in north London aged 82, after a short battle with cancer. He was survived by his children Julia and Matthew.