By Dana Wiffen
A recent exhibition of Mobo Toys brought back memories of the Bronco tin horse I had as a child.
... young Charles Dickens .....
Sitting on the horse you could propel it forward by pushing done of the pedals which enabled it to lurch forward on wheels.
If you were born in the 50s or 60s you probably had a bronco horse or at least a Mobo toy in your collection. The Mobo scooter was a best seller and was played with a lot by children.
The toy company started in 1921 in East London and in 1928 moved to larger premises in Lant Street in London SE1 after a takeover of another firm.
Interestingly the house next door to the factory had been the residence of a
young Charles Dickens when his parents were in Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison.
The factory had started with building street cleaning carts and milk churns, and during the war they produced aircraft and tank components and bunks for air raid shelters.
In the mid 1940s they looked to expand the company as the war came to an end and decided to go into metal furniture which was known as 'Stak-a-Bye'.
They then moved into the toy making business. This was when the famous
Rocking Horse' was developed (see picture above) and as the toy division began
to sell more toys they out grew Lant Street and again needed larger premises to
increase their production and they found the former Vickers Gun works in Erith,
Kent and moved there in 1947.
From this factory their increased toy production saw them exporting toys all over the world, many of their toys had a circus theme were colourful and caught children’s imagination even becoming popular in the USA.
The popular Bronco Horse was upgraded and although it no longer rocked it could turn and not just go in a straight line like the earlier non rocking models, as each leg had small wheels underneath them. Mobo's Bronco Horse's popularity meant it remained in production until the factory closed in 1971 after the world toy market was flooded with cheaper imports from Asia.
Nevertheless Mobo Toys continue to be sought after by collectors and change hands for serious money.
If only I had hung onto to my lovely horse!
© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2003 -