BAYKO and the 1946
Britain Can Make It Exhibition

This is a strange one to explain, but, in September and October, 1946, an exhibition was held in the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London.
The first page of the 'Toy Trader' article dated October 1946
It was organised by the Council of Industrial Design, but apparently with official support, and covered some 50 different industries, including toys and games, and more than 15,000 separate items were submitted for possible inclusion in the exhibition.
A selection committee, chaired by Lord Woolton, he of the infamous wartime pie, had the extremely difficult task of drastically thinning down the entry list to fill the 90,000 square feet [8,361 square metres] of exhibition space available. It sounds like hell on earth to me, but then I've always hated committees.
The final list of around three hundred companies attended strictly by invitation only - and the Plimpton Engineering Company was, of course, one of the chosen few!
While I have no evidence to back this up, I have heard it suggested that one of, if not the main deciding factor, was rewarding Plimpton's contribution to the war effort, making BAKELITE [insulating] components for radios and possibly also radar systems.
There is a list of the toy companies included in the exhibition on the second page of the 'Toy Trader' article below. They were housed in area 'T' of the exhibition.
The second page of the 'Toy Trader' article dated October 1946
There were twin rationales for holding the exhibition, both of which are exceedingly well reflected in that carefully worded title : -
To push, and provide a showcase for, all aspects of British manufacturing industry and get across the message that, no matter what the product, 'Britain Can Make It'.
To provide a hint of optimism and suggest that 'Britain Can Make It' through the difficulties of post-war depression and austerity.
The goods were all to be displayed anonymously, emphasising, I suspect, that the second point may well, officially at least, have outweighed the first.
Anybody who wanted any further information on a particular product had to enquire at “a special bureau” provided for just that purpose.
The two images here [above and left] are both taken from an article in the October, 1946 edition of 'Toy Trader', a key publication for the toy trade at that time. Click on either of the images to see a slightly larger version.
I'm afraid that's all I can tell you, but it's good to know that BAYKO was so well regarded as to be included in such a unique, prestige project…
…though, of course, a BAYKO fanatic like me doesn't find it at all surprising!!!
Politic cynic that I am, BREXIT seems to be a perfect opportunity, for both reasons, for a re-run of the “Britain Can Make It” exhibition.

Mum's the Word!

You know, you should always talk to your mum…
…I certainly should do it more often!
Sorry about yet another corny heading, I can only console myself with the thought that [then] the wartime slogan had a familiar resonance.
In an amazing coincidence - given that I only wrote this page last week - during a brief phone conversation last night, and completely out of the blue, mum mentioned that she had actually visited the Britain Can Make It exhibition with a group of ex-A.T.S. pals on a post demob reunion! I'm sorry to have to report that she doesn't remember BAYKO specifically, but she made some interesting comments.
During the war, and immediately after, necessity determined that life was somewhat drab and there wasn't much available in the shops.
The exhibition left two over-riding impressions in my mum's mind : -
“It was in colour” - such a glaring contrast to life outside the exhibition for the previous several years - and she particularly noticed the increased use of colourful plastics in this context.
This, as an aside, was [almost] a 'famous phrase' in our family. After years of watching football on black and white T.V. with dad, she went with him to Ewood Park, to see the world's best football team, Blackburn Rovers, play a floodlit night match. As she emerged from a dull stairwell into the light, “Oh, it's in colour”, was her first comment!
“I'd never seen so many things” - again contrasted with the comparatively limited range of “utility” items which you couldn't get hold of anyway.
She found the whole event exciting and uplifting…
…job done, as far as the organisers were concerned!
Nice to be able to add an eye witness report about this interesting and successful event.
If you can add any more information about the Britain Can Make It exhibition then I'd love to hear from you…
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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