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Sep 13, '21

Crescent Toys

Crescent Toys was a British toy manufacturing company in operation from 1922 to 1980.


Crescent Toys manufactured lead [hollow-cast] figures and animals, die cast metal vehicles, toy guns, hollow cast and later plastic figures and toy soldiers of various historical periods. The firm was founded by Henry Eagles and Arthur Schneider and was located at 67, DeBeauvoir Crescent, Kingston Road, London.

Henry George Eagles was one of seven children born of William Eagles, a lifebelt maker, and his wife Emily. At some point in the 1930s, one of Henry's brothers, Arthur, joined the Company under the name of Mr. Harvey (to avoid suspicion of nepotism) and worked as a foreman in the lead casting shop. It was understood that during the early part of the Second World War, Arthur Schneider went to America because of the connotation with Germany that his surname gave. Henry's health deteriorated and Arthur (Harvey) carried more of the responsibility of running the factory aided by Doris Eagles, one of Henry's four children. Henry, known to most of us as 'Harry', died in 1942 and his brother, my father, known as Mr. Harvey, continued to manage the business, which by now was manufacturing munitions' parts. At the end of the war, Henry's two sons, Harry and Ernie, who had served in the armed forces, joined Crescent along with their younger brother Frank and they together with their sister Doris, the Company Secretary, held the controlling interest.


Mr. Harvey was given 1,000 shares in Crescent Toy for his caretaker role and purchased a house of some standing in Potter Street, Essex. Die Cast Machine Tools, a small company in Green Lanes, Palmers Green had supplied Crescent with Die Casting Machines and took on casting work subcontracted from them. They soon realised that there was more to be made from selling the finished product than just the parts. In consequence, they used what knowledge they had gained to become fierce competitors in every field that they could.

Meanwhile, with an eye to the development grants then available for industry to move to Wales, Crescent decided to open a factory and my father spent over two years travelling to, and working in, Cwmcarn until the factory was opened in 1949. His co-directors, my cousins, loved Wales and all decided to shut the Tottenham factory and move there. Having spent two years in an area where he said the rain came at you horizontally, dad said he wouldn't move but would continue in Tottenham and supply Crescent with toys cheaper than they would be able to make them in Wales.

Discord between the families got rather bitter and 'Mr. Harvey' set up The Harvey Toy Company in Commerce Road, Wood Green, in the name given to him by his brother many years before. He then sought an alliance with the old enemy - Die Casting Machine Tools - who by then were Trading as Lone Star Products, Californian Screen Blocks, A.G.M. Industries, and several other names. His House in Potter Street had to go and we moved to Abbey Road in Bush Hill Park. Of his three children, Ronald, the youngest, worked in Lone Star's Tool Room alongside 'Smith & Odell' (later of 'Matchbox' fame) my Brother Anthony eventually went into the 'Church', and I ran a Rotational Moulding and Vacuum Forming Company and in more recent years developed a plastics assembly process marketed as PHASA. The Toy Soldier and Toy Gun Markets seemed as though they were really killed off in America as a consequence of the Vietnam War

Prior to the war, Crescent acquired moulds and stock from C.W. Baker which traded as Reka. Crescent manufactured a series of dioramas depicting various shops and a classroom from 1950s Britain. The company also manufactured Dan Dare sets of figures and Thunderbirds toys.

A Chance Find

In 1968 we were on holiday in Jersey when I spied a whole display of Crescent 60mm American Civil War figures on sale in the Supermarket Francais at Red Houses

They were priced at six old pence each (£1.00 = 240d) what a find!

Instead of buy one or two I said the disinterested sales assistant, “I will take the lot!” Immediately her face changed and hurriedly put them them into a bag. There was 88 of soldiers. (£2.20 at today’s prices)

In 1981 I sold them at the South London Wargames Conference Winter-gardens Margate for £20.00 only to buy them back again at the Ashford Toy and Train fair 20 years later at £200!

To me they are they remind me of the many happy hours of playing Little Wars as a teenager.


Jackson's "Foot Cavalry"

None could outmarch them. Some believed none could outfight them.

They were known as ”Jackson’s Foot Cavalry”— so called for their ability to cover more than 30 miles a day — cavalry distance — on the march. Virginians all, they formed a division of troops under the command of General Thomas J. ”Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in 1862. In March of 1862, they numbered about 10,000 and had orders to defend the Valley from Northern forces four times their size. General Nathaniel Banks and 40,000 Federal troops had been moved into the Valley to battle Jackson while General George B. McClellan moved his giant Federal army toward the Confederate capital of Richmond. After driving away Jackson’s force, Banks was supposed to withdraw toward Washington, D.C. and support McClellan’s army as needed.

Initially, Banks’ army pursued Jackson southward through the Valley. Believing Jackson had been driven away, Banks left General James Shields and a division of troops near Winchester, Virginia, and began to move the rest of his army toward Richmond as planned. Jackson, however, led his ”foot cavalry” army in a rapid forced march back through the Valley, and struck Shields a surprise blow at the battle of Kernstown on March 23. Although Shields’ larger force eventually prevailed, Jackson won a strategic victory by keeping Northern forces tied down in the Valley. Reinforced by 7,000 more troops, he soon attacked again, this time defeating Federal forces under Generals Robert Schenk and Robert Milroy at the battle of McDowell on May 8. At Front Royal on May 23, he attacked Banks, forced him to retreat to Winchester, then decisively defeated him. Banks made a hasty retreat back north and across the Potomac Myer. In response, Washington authorities moved a large Federal force into the Shenandoah Valley to punish Jackson.

It was not to be. Stonewall had lived in the Valley and he knew the country intimately. His ”Foot Cavalry” was already moving by late May, and Jackson escaped a trap set for him near Strasburg. What then unfolded was one of the most brilliant operations of the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign. Although threatened by superior Northern forces on two sides, Jackson defeated General John C. Fremont at Cross Keys on June 7, and General James Shields at Port Republic on June 9. Both Federal armies retreated. Meanwhile, General Robert E. Lee turned back McClellan’s army in the Seven Days Campaign. Lee had saved Richmond, and Jackson was master of the Valley. In 38 days, his “Foot Cavalry” marched approximately 400 miles, engaged in six battles, defeated five Northern generals and prevented thousands of Northern reinforcements from attacking Richmond. Jackson and his ”Foot Cavalry” had become the stuff of legend.

Yellow Blankets

Yellow is the colour of the Cavalry! I subconsciously painted yellow blankets on my elite Southern Troops.


Xanthippus and the Foot Cavalry

I fought with Miltiades as Xanthippus (Yellow Horse) and the Athenian Hoplites at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC).

Foot cavalry was an oxymoron coined to describe the rapid movements of infantry troops serving under Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The use of the words "foot" and "cavalry" to describe the same troops were seemingly in conflict with one another, as unlike normal cavalry units with horses, his men were infantry troops, usually on foot (although occasionally traveling by train).

To achieve the reputation for amazing speeds of travel, Stonewall Jackson used a combination of great audacity, excellent knowledge, and shrewd use of the terrain, added to the ability to inspire his troops to great feats of marching and fighting. His men endured forced marches and he used an intimate knowledge of the passes and railroad tunnels along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to move between the Piedmont region and the Shenandoah Valley with unanticipated rapidity, confounding his opponents in the Union leadership.


Sep 13, '21
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