Something magical happens behind the walls of Leith Toy Hospital

Incredible pictures show the detailed workings by specialists at a toy hospital - where around 100 precious teddies and dolls are restored a month.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 4:55 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Experts at Leith Toy Hospital, Edinburgh, painstakingly restore beloved toys, from modern bears to antique dolls.

Started by Mari Jones, 30, in 2017, a team of eight staff specialise in plastics, ceramics, historical textiles - and there is even a doll hairstylist.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Even replacement moving eyes for a doll can be found at Leith Toy Hospital.

The toy doctors fix mechanical issues, restuff teddies, restore old ceramic doll pieces, and even help recreate precious lost toys from pictures.

Mairi was inspired to start the toy hospital after her favourite teddy was damaged in a washing machine when she was a child and her mother showed her how to fix it.

She said business has benefitted from lockdown as people discovered precious old toys while having clear outs.

Katy Powell works to repair a doll at Leith Toy Hospital.

The idea for the toy hospital grew out of Picture to Puppet, a custom puppet and toy-making business that Mairi started in 2012.

Mairi said: "We already had Picture to Puppet, so people would get in touch to repair something, and then it grew arms and legs from that.

"We started doing it on a casual scale, and then the customers would tell their friends and families.

"Interest just kept growing.

Katy Powell and Angela Zawitaj work to repair dolls.

"I think during lockdown, people have been clearing out their lofts and have been finding old toys that need to be fixed, so that has helped."

Prices range from £15-£175 depending on what surgery is required, from a full restuffing to adding a new limb.

Mairi, from Leith, Edinburgh, said: "We've got many different departments, with different specialists.

Teddy and doll x-rays with the recovery area at Leith Toy Hospital.

"We have those that specialise in textiles, and material, and those that specialise in mechanical and electrical toys.

"My background is in textile design and I now work with both soft and hard materials.

"It can range from old toys to modern toys.

"Children bring toys in that just need a wee restuff, and a clean.

"Then we get old ceramic toys that have been damaged and shattered into a thousand pieces.

"At the hospital, the patients get tucked up in little beds, and when they're ready to go home they get a doctor's note saying they need lots of cuddles in order to make a full recovery.

The 'doctor' will see you now, Teddy.

"Also if someone has lost their toy, they can send a picture and we make them a new one based on the picture.

"The price ranges depending on what they are getting done, for example, a full restuffing can cost up to £175.

"A new limb can cost up to £70. While just fixing the seams can cost £15.

"I've been interested in toy restoration since I was young.

"When I was a child I had a teddy bear that got badly damaged in the washing machine.

"My mum fixed it with a new skin, and I remember I got really into it from there.

"I used to get really excited about fixing my toys and thinking about what new fabric I would pick.

"We have a small team of eight at the moment.

"It's been interesting to have to be learning about different types of toys and how to fix them.

"Every day is different."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Mari Jones works to repair a puppet.
The drawers have eyes at Leith Toy Hospital