It all started in a shed in a back garden in Blackpool. Just after the Second World War, Thomas Cassidy had a desire to start his own toy business. A family of toymakers since 1946, Casdon Toys, formerly Cassidy Brothers, was founded by Thomas, a talented toolmaker with an ambition to start his own toy company. This June, Casdon Toys, which is based in Cornford Road, Blackpool, celebrated 75 years in business.
Thomas began making moulds to produce miniature decorative items for children in the shape of skating boots in the shed that he built in his mum’s back garden. In his spare time, he repaired vacuum cleaners to raise money for what was to become the Casdon Toys of today. Throughout the war he worked as a toolmaker, die sinker and hand engraver. On the 16th of September 1944 he married Bridget Donnelly. This is where the name ‘Casdon’ comes from, as it is a combination of Tom’s last name, Cassidy, and his wife Bridget’s maiden name, Donnelly. The company’s name was changed from Cassidy Brothers PLC to Casdon PLC in 2010.
Tom eventually left his job as a toolmaker and became self-employed. On the 8th of June 1946, he started to record the sales for his hand-made toys in his first ever ledger. He purchased a semi-detached house in Blackpool so that there was more room in the back to work in. Alongside renting smaller places for his 12 employees to work in, this is when major expansion started, and products could start being handled by the wholesale trade.
Tom’s brother Joe joined the partnership and the company eventually moved to a much larger location and became a limited company. Casdon’s still remains today in the plot of land that the factory was built upon. The tool making section of the company was separated from the fancy goods manufacturing and Joe Cassidy was appointed managing director to organise the steady development of this side of the business.
Casdon’s first toys were exhibited at the Harrogate Toy Fair and in 1962, the Jumbo Telephone toy was introduced, a replica of the new and only domestic telephone available in the UK. Once more, another landmark toy was introduced, the Supercash, a replica of the high street cash register. Casdon continued to develop toy versions of domestic appliances, such as a working carpet sweeper and a mini steam iron and after England’s World Cup win in 1966, the Bobby Charlton Soccer Game with patented mechanism was introduced.
Paul Cassidy joined the family firm of Cassidy Brothers created by his father Tom and his uncle Joe aged 16 as an apprentice toolmaker. Both Thomas and Paul Cassidy knew that the need for toys to have a role in children’s learning development as well as to be fun to play with. Still to this day, the family of toymakers continue to inspire imaginative fun for children through every new role-play toy they introduce. You might think, why on earth would I buy a child a toy vacuum or domestic appliance for their birthday, but you’d be surprised at how popular these toys are as almost two million toys are sold every single year.
In 1997, Paul approaches James Dyson with a brand new idea to develop toy replicas of Dyson vacuums. Mr Dyson loved the creativity and granted Casdon the license to produce Dyson toy vacuums and the toy Dyson DC05 was launched in 2000. By 2001, all toy production had been moved to China but because of the large inflation in China, it pushed up cost prices dramatically. New toy ranges were coming out such as the new 2005 Dyson DC08. They have been family favourites for years as their products are child-sized versions of items that adults may already use within the household or on the high street.
Another vacuum cleaner brand, which everyone will know, the Henry Vacuum Cleaner. This was popular with parents and children alike was introduced as a Casdon toy replica in 2006. In 2018, the Casdon toy replica of the Dyson Cord-free is introduced with amazing success, this was the first product manufactured in India. Today’s bestsellers include the officially licensed child-sized Dyson Ball vacuum, the Pick & Mix Sweet Shop, mini-Henry and Hetty vacuum cleaners and the Morphy Richards Kitchen Set.
The company is now run by Phil Cassidy and Peter Cassidy, Thomas Cassidy’s grandsons and sons of former Chairman, Paul Cassidy who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2020. They successfully trade internationally with offices in Hong Kong and distribution partners in the US and Australia, but they are still headquartered in their roots of Blackpool in the original Casdon home, just down the road from the shed where it all began.
With role-play being at the heart of the company, Casdon launched a ‘Helping out in the Home Corner’ initiative in June to coincide with the 75th anniversary. The campaign benefitted 100 primary schools who receivied a selection of Casdon’s bestselling toys to help enhance school role-play areas across the country. Children’s toys need to be new and exciting, more often than not they’ll pick a mobile phone or a household appliance to spend time playing with rather than a teddy bear or doll. This is why roleplay toys are fun, yet have a role to help children to develop, which a Grandfather and father both recognised was an important part of growing up. Casdon celebrates their legacy today with every new exciting today invented today.
Visit the Casdon website here.