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Such was the rate of the companys’ expansion since the early war years that in 1919 it was to acquire the nearby Harborne Village Institute which was used as their printing works producing box covers and labels for their toys and games.
The companys’ soft toy production was relocated in 1920 to a new factory, the Wrekin Toy Works, at Wellington, Shropshire, where a new range of fabric dolls were introduced and all three factories were merged to become The Chad Valley Co. In that same year both the Wellington and Harborne works were extended as business continued to increase. In 1922 Chad Valley was a Listed Exhibitor at the British Industries Fair (Stand F.35) Indoor Games, Puzzles, Christmas Crackers and Stockings, Toys of all Description including Playing Balls, Teddy Bears, Fabric Dolls and other Soft Toys, Rattles, Mascots etc.
With the ending of the war the Chad Valley factories quickly returned to toy production and the company went from strength to strength adding both metal and rubber toys to their range.
By 1960 Chad Valley comprised seven factories and employed over 1,000 people and was considered to be at its peak of manufacturing by this time. The main Harborne factory closes and was eventually demolished and boxed game production moves to the Hall & Lane factory site in central Birmingham.
Three out of the nine factories are to close with the resultant redundancies.
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Fortunately for Chad Valley the dolls proved an instant hit, selling in large numbers not only at home but right across the then British Empire and so for the next fourteen years all Chad Valley toys carried the words ‘Toymakers to H. The Second World War resulted in production of toys being dramatically cut as the Chad Valley factories concentrated their output to the war effort with government contracts for the production of such items as wooden instrument cases and cases for use in anti-aircraft guns, hospital tables and tent poles, auto-pilots and charts.
However one factory was retained by the government for toy manufacture, specialising in the production of jigsaws, chess sets, draughts and dominoes for use in military hospitals and the Forces generally.
This may have had something to do with the fact that earlier in a bold move the Palace had been approached by Chad Valley executives for permission to produce dolls of the Royal Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Around the 1939-1940 period Chad Valley acquired the tooling of tinplate toymakers Burnett of London who had got into financial difficulties and continued to manufacture many of that companys product lines well after the second world war probably the most well know of which was the ‘Ubilda’ tinplate model kits.
It was with some surprise that the company received a note back from the Queen agreeing to the proposal along with suggested dates for the two princesses to sit for the proposed dolls. War, sadly again, played a part in the fortunes of the company in the 1940′s.
With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 toys and games were no longer being imported giving a boost to the British toy industry and Johnson Bros.
seized the opportunity, despite wartime restrictions, to expand its range of cardboard games and simple toys.
It was this attention to detail which set them apart from the competition but they were not cheap, typically selling for somewhere between 5/- and 30/- which would equate to around £20 – £100 in todays money.