Before we all pile into Olympia next week, here’s a list of weird and wonderful facts about the venue.
Some are handy to know, others will surprise you, and a few are almost totally pointless. But you never know, one might pop up as an answer on The Chase and then you’ll thank us, so read on:
1.The suite on the north side of the hall used to be used by ladies man Edward, Prince of Wales for ‘amorous liasons’ before he became King in 1901. The block was rebuilt in 1937 but the suite remains, although we think such activity might be frowned upon during the Toy Fair.
2. From the thirties to the sixties, Olympia was home to circus shows by Barnham & Bailey and Bertram Mills. In fact, when Olympia first opened to the public on Boxing Day 1886, it was for the Hippodrome Circus featurng 400 performers, 300 horses and six elephants.
3. The Albion pub, just down the road and where we held our first ever Alternative Toy Fair party (then called Unwind), is apparantly haunted!
4. During WWI, Olympia was used as a temporary civil prison camp for German nationals and other potential hostile ‘aliens’.
5. Toy Fair outgrew Olympia and in 1999, the decision was made to move to the ExCeL , but returned to Olympia in 2010 where it celebrated its 57th anniversary.
6. Olympia played host to The Great British Music Festival in 1975. Headlining the first day were none other than the mighty Status Quo.
7. The venue is no stranger to the big screen. The nearby Blythe House was used as the setting for The Circus in the BAFTA-winning Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Olympia can be seen in several shots.
8. 1908 saw Olympia host the first ever Ideal Home Show.
9. Olympia’s company values are Care, Committment, Passion, Respect and Trust.
10. After Toy Fair, Olympia will welcome Musicmania on January 25th, a show for dedicated collectors looking for a bargain where visitors can buy or sell CDs, vinyl, posters, programs, tour jackets and other memorabilia. So if you’re looking to get rid of any unwanted Christmas gifts (Cliff Richard’s Fabulous Rock ‘N’ Roll Songbook, anyone?) it might be best to stick around.