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Review: Derbyshire Toy Libraries

Updated: May 10

When I mention Derbyshire Toy Libraries to friends and family who live elsewhere, they’re instantly, simultaneously curious, envious and impressed!


It’s a fantastic charity, run by Ann-Marie McMillan and her team, which promotes the importance of play and its value to a child’s development. And they do this in a range of ways.

Toy Hire


As a family, we’ve now hired toys four times. The first couple of times were during lockdown. We hired a soft play set and a ball pit and then later some puzzles and games. Last year, we hired the soft play along with some other big outdoor toys for my nephew’s 1st birthday party and again for my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday.

Our hires may not have varied much but that’s not to say there isn’t a vast choice of toys on offer. There’s a broad range of categories listed on the website such as construction, hand-eye coordination, imaginative, outdoor play, sensory and Montessori. You name it, you'll find it there! It's a great opportunity to hire items which you're unsure whether your child will like or those which are beyond your budget or when you just want to switch things up a bit on a rainy day or a holiday or any day!

As well as by type, you can also search by age. Many items cost £1 or £2 for a week, with the most expensive pieces - like ball pools – still only costing £20.

Collections and returns are very straight forward once you’ve become a member (£10 for a year or £8 for an ongoing subscription). You just message via email or Facebook, agree a collection slot (at Strutts Community Centre, Belper), pull into the car park, pop in to pay and the toys are yours! Once your small people have had a week of fun, you clean the toys and return them to the same place. Easy!


Pre-booked toy hire slots:

  • 10am to 12pm on Wednesdays

  • 9.30 to 11am on Fridays

  • 9 to 11.30am on Saturdays


Stay and Play


Stay and Plays a great opportunity for your children to play with a wide selection of different toys and for you to enjoy a brew and meet other parents. Certainly in the early days of my second daughter arriving, it was good to find a safe, contained space where the older one could burn off some energy whilst I exhaustedly watched with the baby!

There are four Stay and Plays every week:

  • Crich (The Glebe) on Mondays

  • Grassmoor Community Centre on Tuesdays

  • Belper Community Hall on Wednesdays

  • Kilburn Village Hall on Thursdays

Some sessions also involve a little singalong at the end too!

For full details on times and prices, including the special multiples playgroup on the second Saturday of each month, click here.


From time to time they also run a multi-generational play sessions called Young at Heart. For more info in this, click here.

Toy Auctions


Each month, there is a toy auction where you can go for the ‘buy it now’ option on the Saturday and then open bidding commences the following Thursday. Items are listed with photographs and prices on the Derbyshire Toy Libraries Selling and Fundraising group page.


This is a brilliant idea if you’re looking for some pre-loved birthday presents or stocking fillers. And great for the environment too!




Recently, we were also invited to a party featuring the Toy Library toys! They filled Belper Community Hall with similar items to the pictures above. Party packs are really flexible and can be tailor made to include your favourite items and to suit your budget. It's such a cost-effective and almost effort-free option for any event.


Reusable tableware is also available. They’ve thought of everything!




Of course, you can visit the website, but if you’re interested in seeing more of what Derbyshire Toy Libraries offer in real life, why not pop along to Belper Goes Green on 8th-9th June where there’ll be plenty for kids of all ages to play with and more information about all the above. They're also looking for volunteers to staff the Kids' Zone for an hour or two. (And don’t forget to come and say ‘hi’ to Boom at the same time!)



Aren’t we lucky to have access to this incredible resource in our local area! If you've not checked them out, then what are you waiting for?!



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