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Ex-Coronation Street actor opens toy shop in Hatfield
Peter Baldwin
Peter Baldwin shares his passion for toy theatre

Peter Baldwin will forever be identified as Derek Wilton, the screen husband of Mavis in Coronation Street.

After leaving The Street, Peter appeared in various TV and stage roles.

While 'resting' from his acting career, Peter worked at Pollock's Toy Museum and managed their traditional toy shop in Covent Garden.

After the death of Benjamin Pollock in 1988, Peter took over the ownership of the shop, and can still be regularly seen working behind the counter.

Hatfield House

Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop has now opened a second shop in The Stable Yard, at Hatfield House.

The 17th Century stables alongside the Elizabethan Palace have been refurbished and now house a number of specialist retailers.

Peter spoke to BBC Three Counties Radio and explained how his love for toy theatre began.

Pollock's Toy Museum in Covent Garden
Pollock's Toy Museum in Covent Garden

"I don't know whether it was because I wanted to be an actor, or whether I had a toy theatre thirst and that led me to want to be an actor, but my parents gave me one when I was about twelve, just after the Second World War," said Peter.

"I played with it all that Christmas and all through my boyhood - I loved it."

New interest

Some years later, Peter introduced his own family to the toys of his youth.

"When our first child was born, when she was about 2 or 3-years-old, we were trying to teach her about Jesus and the Nativity, and I remembered I'd got a Nativity play with my toy theatre.

"I got it out and it sparked off a whole new interest. I soon started collecting old toy theatres and all the scene sheets and characters that went with them," said Peter.

Peter went on to explain why he thinks some children today are still fascinated by old toys.

"I think it's because toy theatre is something different. It's what children had to play with in the 19th Century; they didn't have computers and televisions," said Peter.

Peter Baldwin
Peter is still recognised for his role on Coronation Street

"It's lovely; you stand behind and quite simply operate the whole thing. You push the characters on and off, change the scenery, take the curtain up and down, change the lighting - you're totally in charge, it's an actors' dream!"

Still recognised

Even though it's now over twenty years since Peter left Coronation Street, he is still recognised by members of the public for his role as Derek Wilton.

"I even get customers from America, Canada and New Zealand who watch repeats of the show and are very surprised to see me when they walk into the shop!" said Peter.

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