At Betty Blake's we aim to listen to our customers and address their interests and needs. Using our specialism in Arts and Social Practice we develop a range of projects to explore the health, educational and social issues around toys and play.


  • Playing Through History

  • A project inspired by stories from Ruth’s Granny whose family owned a 'Make and Mend' shop during World War II selling a range of second hand, upcycled and hand-made goods. At this time, many toy manufacturers were enlisted for the war effort and the production of toys was limited. Toys were handed down or hand made, so they made some in the shop including little grey elephants from an old skirt.

  • In 2017 in partnership with artist Elena Cassidy Smith we collected stories and childhood memories of toys in the 1940's from older people in the community. People popped into the shop to talk to us and we also attended several community groups and events. We used these stories to recreate some of the toys and along with a selection of Vintage toys we created a pop up toy museum in the shop store cupboard.

  • We ran a series of events for the local community teaching grown ups how to make the toys we'd been told about including toy horses made from rag bag scraps, wooden sailing boats, peg dolls and 'fuzzy felt'. We worked with Wolverhampton archives to deliver a history talk and also ran a series of workshops for small children retelling stories in combination with tradition nursery rhymes and giving them the opportunity to play with vintage toys and some of the toys we'd created.

  • We are currently developing 'Phase 2' of this project

'Such a wonderful shop, we enjoy having a look at the new toys and can always find that perfect present. Ruth is lovely and so helpful. We recently attended our first workshop for the children about wartime toys. We looked at some wonderful old toys, heard some interesting stories, sang favourite nursery rhymes and decorated paper boats. Well prepared and delivered, would highly recommend. Thanks Ruth! ' - Joanne Everby, childminder