April 2018 Speaker
Over 100 members attended the April meeting of Baddow & Galleywood U3A and we were delighted to welcome Alan Goldsmith from Mountfitchet Castle and The Toy Museum.
Initially Alan talked briefly about his childhood growing up in the 40s and early 50s in Hertfordshire when parents were trying to give their children the best life they could after the war. Having struggled through his school years, he left school at 15 years old and tried various jobs, in factories and working on the land.
Then in the late 1950s Rock ‘n’Roll hit England and some of Alan’s workmates decided to start their own band 'The Diamonds' and Alan realised his talent lay in management rather than performing, and so he set to organising dances initially in local village halls. As their fame spread he branched out into other counties and attracted many rock artists who later became very famous around the world, some of whom are still performing as the Rock ‘n’ Roll era has recently been revived.
Alan then broadened out organising Air Shows and Stunt Shows at various County Showgrounds around Eastern England.
Following these years of freedom, he decided to settle down with his family and purchased the house and land on which the remains of Mountfitchet Castle stood. He then researched the history of the land and wanted to rebuild the castle, which dated from the 11th century, but he wasn’t able to get planning permission. So instead he decided to build an exhibition centre which consisted of a Medieval Village and also a Toy Museum which has had 3 million visitors since it opened in 1975.
Alan started collecting old toys when his children were young, by going to Boot Fairs. His collection is now the largest in Europe and has over 70,000 toys from late Victorian times up to the 1990s.
Mountfitchet Castle is unique as being the only wooden Mott and Bailey castle and village to be reconstructed on its original historic site anywhere in the world.
After another enthralling afternoon, which once again brought back many happy musical memories for us all, the members retired to have their refreshments in the small hall.