When Press Solutions got the call to build a new website for the Lilliput Doll and Toy Museum, Brading, in early 2017, it was a project I was very keen to be involved in.
Brading, an ancient town located on the Isle of Wight, is surrounded by a wealth of beautiful, rural locations, including Morton and Nunwell. Adgestone, boasting its own vineyard, is also close by and an excellent choice for wine lovers. Another local vineyard was once housed at the nearby Morton Manor, formerly owned by the late Janusz Trzebski, who I knew and had the pleasure of working with.
I’d not visited the Lilliput Museum since my school days, so was intrigued to find out how it had changed since the 1980s.
Upon my arrival, I met the owners, Graham and Jackie Munday, had a tour of the Lilliput museum and talked through how we could present the museum to the public for 2017 and beyond. The original website, built by Graham, was, by his own admission, starting to look dated. A plan was made to rebuild the website in time for Spring, and to create new leaflets and update the company branding for the local Isle of Wight magazines.
Whilst the Lilliput museum was closed to the public, two days of onsite photography were completed; this proved to be a painstaking project as each item to be photographed was stored behind glass. Issues of reflections and camera flash were constant and at times display cases had to be carefully opened so that items and displays could be photographed clearly. Due to insurance purposes, items had to be handled by Graham and Jackie alone, making it a slow and laborious task. However, getting to see the dolls, plates, puppets and clowns close up made it completely worthwhile and each collectible item had their own story to tell. There is even a complete Hornby railway set!
Once the images were processed and edited by our photographers, Jonathan and Francoise, they were resized and prepared for the web. The original Lilliput website was pink in colour with maroon font and the signage was yellow, so we used these colours in our own designs in order to reflect the original branding that both locals and tourists had come to associate with the museum. We designed and printed new leaflets and these were distributed around the Isle of Wight at various tourist information points, hotels and places of interest. We also prepared a new advert for Island Visitor magazine.
Unfortunately, the website project was delayed during 2017 as the owner, Graham, became ill and spent considerable time in Southampton General Hospital. This left Jackie to run the Lilliput museum whilst simultaneously trying to visit her husband, off the island. Many weeks later, Graham was finally able to return home and I went to visit. We chatted and talked about the new website project, already halfway to completion. At this point, Graham was able to supply us with individual stories about each item we were going to highlight on the website, carefully selecting which ones would appeal to the wider public.
As you can image, dolls aren’t to everyone’s taste and a selection of the exhibits are quite scary to look at; some are very realistic and appear to watch you as you move around the room, reminiscent of many horror films. However, to hear Graham speak of each of their fascinating stories, with such love and attention to detail, was inspiring and truly interesting. My favourite story was that of a little soft toy called ‘Rags the Dog’ who was made in the 1920s. Rags ended up as a WW2 mascot and spent its time flying in the RAF and was shot at on several occasions. Thankfully, Rags and its pilot survived and the toy was donated to the museum by the family.
Sadly, Graham passed away just before Christmas 2017. Under these difficult circumstances, we continued to work with Jackie, who was both brave and brilliant. Finally, in January 2018, we completed and launched the Lilliput website, the content of which is filled with knowledge, stories and the beautiful histories of each of the exhibits, all thanks to Graham’s dedication and expertise.