From lunches and carols to markets and meeting Santa
Toy museum in a heritage house
Vintage toys, Blue Train and the world's smallest kitchen
Last updated: Thursday, 2 November 2023
Before computer games and mobile phones, kids would play with handmade dolls and cars that came in little boxes. On Market Street in Stellenbosch, there’s a whole museum dedicated to it (and it’s just R20 to enter). You’ll also find the world’s smallest kitchen and a miniature version of South Africa’s famous Blue Train (that actually runs) at the Toy and Miniature Museum.
STEP BACK IN TIME
The Toy and Miniature Museum exists inside an 18th Century Parsonage and offers six rooms of analogue entertainment for children and adults alike. It showcases thousands of toys throughout history, and there are over 2 000 miniature cars on display, from a 1921 Bugatti, 1935 Ford, and 1951 Volkswagen.
The dinky toys, gifted by actor Limpie Basson, are some of the most valuable toys in the museum. Since they emerged in the 1930s and were discontinued in 1979, they’re extremely rare and sought-after by collectors, going for up to R400 000 (depending on the type and its condition).
The entrance to the Toy Museum. Image: @hendrik_stam
SEE TOYS FROM CENTURIES AGO
Upon entry, you’ll see a very large doll house that is actually a replica of the Uitkyk Farmhouse in Stellenbosch. The double-story, Georgian-style manor has three 19th-century rooms upstairs and three downstairs, including a main room, a ‘voorkamer’, and an 18th-century kitchen.
In a dark room, you’ll find displays portraying a motorbike workshop, an Oriental Carpet Shop, and a Stellenbosch backyard from 1690 where the lighting is programmed to change from day-time to night-time every two minutes.
A bedroom in one of the many dollhouses on display. Image: Ismaeel Adams
WATCH THE ICONIC BLUE TRAIN RUN
The main attraction of the museum, which the kids will love too, is the interactive railway model that took four years to build. One of the most luxurious train rides in the world, at least a miniature of it, can be found here. The locomotive travels through a scenic landscape of a miniature Stellenbosch, the Cape Winelands, and the Karoo mountains as it goes around a circuit.
The railway model travels through a miniature Stellenbosch. Image: Ismaeel Adams
DISCOVER THE WORLD’S SMALLEST KITCHEN
The museum houses every miniature furniture item imaginable, like tiny chests, antique cupboards, four poster beds, grandfather clocks, pots and pans, tea cups, and even tiny plates of food on the tables. Among its treasures is the world’s smallest kitchen from the 1920s that fits into a matchbox, although the curator does not know where it came from or who donated it.
There are also lots of dolls and doll houses. One of the rooms in the museum is dedicated to 100-year-old dolls in period clothing with rosy little cheeks, red-stained lips, and perfectly curled ringlets that would put a Barbie to shame. You might even spot a doll that you’ve played with or owned, like the topsy-turvy doll or “flip” doll as others might call it.
Handmade miniature furniture items. Image: Ismaeel Adams
EXPLORE THE HISTORIC TOWN
If you’d like to take a memento home with you, the gift shop has dollhouses and many miniature props on sale. Or if you’ve finished with the exhibits, take a stroll through the town and visit Oom Samie se Winkel – one of the oldest trading businesses in Stellenbosch (whose miniature replica can also be found in the museum).
Oom Samie se Winkel is the oldest running business in Stellenbosch. Image: @visitstellenboschnow
GET IN TOUCH WITH THE TOY AND MINIATURE MUSEUM
Toy and Miniature Museum is open: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm & Saturdays, 9am to 2pm
Find it: 42 Market Street, Stellenbosch Central
Contact on: 021 887 2948 | Facebook
Cost to enter: R10 for kids and R20 for adults
By Khadeeja Adams
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