The Bones of the Jolly Giant

Does anyone out there remember the Jolly Giant chain of toy shops that used to be around in the 1980s and went bust in the early 90s? I vaguely remember seeing their adverts on the TV with a cartoon giant that looked a bit like Treguard from Knightmare. I remember once when I was wee getting to go to distant, exotic Glasgow for a look in the store. It must have been sometime between 1989 and 1992. I’m also fairly certain it was the Rutherglen store that we went to since the M74 didn’t exist at the time so penetrating as far into the city as Crow Road would have been a bit of a chore. I remember the place had a big picture of their giant mascot on the front but otherwise it looked like a giant warehouse buried in an industrial estate. Inside it was fairly dingy in bits with rows and rows of shelves stacked with everything from stickle bricks to the latest radio controlled cars. If I remember right I got a snap together model of an off-road buggy that took a pair of AA batteries and shot about like a holy terror when you turned it on.

I’m surprised that there’s not much information about the shops on the internet. Usual iconic stuff like this promotes an overwhelming wave of nostalgia. I can’t even find a picture of the Jolly Giant or any of their television adverts.

There are few posts on Hidden Glasgow and other random forums that have lead me to the rough locations of the two shops in Glasgow itself; one on the Crow Road near Jordanhill Station and the other on Glasgow Road, Rutherglen.

I’ve pinched some aerial photos from live maps that show the approximate areas:

Rutherglen in the one above and Jordanhill in the one below:

I might swing by on my bike at some point and see if there are any signs of these once mighty toy stores. Naturally I’ll be doing it in the interests of urban archaeology and not because there might still be a Jolly Giant sign lying about for me to put up outside my flat.

26 Responses to “The Bones of the Jolly Giant”


  1. 1 N315LNS October 6, 2008 at 09:31

    Yes! I remember the Crow Road one well. There are picture at my old dear’s place of me meeting Darth Vader there. Perhaps you should be looking for signs of a Star Destroyer landing point?

  2. 2 John Barnet Denisov December 13, 2008 at 18:54

    I was taken to the Crow road branch when I was 7, oh the memories! I bought transformers and thundercats. My uncle seems to think the store was located a bit further south heading towards the clyde tunnel, where the tool hire shop is today, if thats any help.

  3. 4 Q, Airdrie January 17, 2009 at 01:32

    I remember both the Rutherglen and Crow Road stores, and I’m pretty sure there was one in Edinburgh. Not sure if there were any over the English border though.

    But what I don’t know is this- what on earth happened to the Jolly Giant himself? When you walked in the door of the Jordanhill store there was a 30 – 40ft tall Jolly Giant which said “Ho Ho Ho!” (he was also fenced off for safety reasons).

    Getting rid of 40ft giants can’t be easy, even in a city like Glasgow. It is my mission to find out where he went…

    .

  4. 5 GreyKodiak January 17, 2009 at 10:43

    It’s a very good question Q! Now that you mention it I vaguely remember the presence of a giant statue just inside the Rutherglen branch as well. It was an enormous fibreglass hulk of a thing that looked as though it would come alive at any minute.

    Shame it predates camera phones and digital cameras or there might have had some photos of it somewhere on the web.

  5. 6 Gerry August 23, 2009 at 10:36

    The Jolly Giant is now an Arnold Clark Volkswagen Branch.
    The used car section is where all the toys used to be.
    I remember going there as a youngster and I always have fond memories.

  6. 7 vikki October 25, 2009 at 20:45

    the jolly giant was not where the arrow is in the image and it isnt now arnold clarcks.it was on opposite side of the road from opening to arnold clarcks, which was peter cannon ford. the jolly giant is now a city refrigeration building, or was last i passed by. and its the building at the bottom right corner of the top picture. A proud ruglonian.

  7. 8 Davie December 18, 2009 at 22:42

    Would love someone to help here, my wife was the wee girl skipping down the aisle in the advert and i am having a b/day party surprise in Feb next year. It would be so good to find that advert.

  8. 9 URSULA February 8, 2010 at 22:07

    Hi,

    I used to work in The Jolly Giant,Crow Road, I was there when the shop was closed down in 1997.

    The liquidator sold it off round about us as we continued to work, which was his job I suppose, but it was very sad for the employees and all the children who visited the shop.

    It was one of the best places I have worked in, we had so much fun, espically at Christmas time, such a buzz about the place with all the Children excited about Santa Clause, which was the best part of the job for me, it was great to see all the happy children leaving the shop.

    I remember coming to work to find customers in sleeping bags at the front door a few times,having stayed out over night, to line up for the latest toy craze at the time,quite a surprise for the staff, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Telly Tubbys, Tamagotchi, you name it, the Jolly Giant had it.

  9. 10 Mrs Chaddington February 8, 2010 at 22:35

    none of the ads are on youtube 😦

  10. 11 VP April 13, 2010 at 12:12

    I was in one of the JG adverts too and I’d love to see it again. Shame I can’t find it (or any other JG ads) on Youtube. If anyone does find one, please put a link on here 🙂

  11. 12 KEV November 3, 2010 at 20:25

    HI I REMEMMBER THE OLD EDINBURGH JOLLY GIANT IT CLOSED DOWN YEARS AGO AND WAS TRANSFORMED INTO A SOFT PLAY CENTRE FOR KIDS CALLED THE JELLY CLUB WHICH I THINK NOW HAS ALSO CLOSED DOWN.
    I REMEMBER ALSO FROM MY CHILDHOOD THE MASSIVE GIANT FIGURE THAT STOOD IN THE CORNER OF THE SHOP AND SAID HO HO HO AND I THINK IT MOVED AROUND AND STUFF DOES ANYONE NO WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM WHEN THE JOLLY G CLOSED DOWN ?

  12. 13 Spoon Rest · November 8, 2010 at 09:33

    the baroness of GI Joe is the character i love, she is beautiful and deadly ;

  13. 14 Gavin January 1, 2011 at 20:56

    I was terrified by the 40ft Jolly Giant figure and had to be dragged in screaming!

  14. 15 Born at the right time February 24, 2011 at 23:19

    I miss the Jolly Giant! Can’t believe no one has any pictures of it. I was the second youngest of 4 kids back in the early 90s and our Dad used to take us to the Leeds branch for a treat twice a year or so – think our last visit must have been in ’96 I reckon (I would’ve been 6). We were adamant the giant in the entrance was getting smaller every visit! (turns out we were just getting bigger). Yes, more innocent times. Just came to mind now as I’ve moreorless forgotten what he looked like. Shame not to find any photographs of him online…

  15. 16 Richard March 6, 2011 at 21:05

    My first job after leaving school was at the jolly giant in Leeds when it first opened this was there third store I had four and a half great years there they also had stores in rotherham nottingham two in scotland and some others I think at its height ther wher about 7 in all , they started to fail when toys r us camre along they just couldnt compete with this size and cash behind toys r us.they where owned by a scotish firm called baxter brothers hope this helps.

  16. 17 Mr. Ted Coatlump May 26, 2011 at 00:20

    So the whereabouts of the Crow Road Jolly Giant remain a mystery..

    At around the time of the liquidation, I called the store to make an offer for him, but (if I recall correctly) I was informed that he had already been donated to a local nursery school, which seemed an unusual choice!

    If this is the case, then someone, somewhere must know the big yin’s current location?!

  17. 18 Katy August 16, 2011 at 22:38

    My dad ran it lol. Your correct it was on Glasgow Road in Rutherglen. It’s sorely missed

  18. 19 Gottfried September 8, 2011 at 13:38

    Yes, I do remember the giant chain toy store! I do think they were still in business towards the later part of the 90’s. In fact I did some temp fall/winter job at their East Beckton branch in 1997. Still have fond memories, and wonder how my former colleagues at that store are doing.

  19. 20 Just Ba September 28, 2011 at 08:49

    exact location of the Rutherglen Store is 201 Glasgow Road, G73 1SU. How do i know this? It’s now called Spiceways, an Indian Food & Spice wholesaler. I have the fortune of working for National Grid, the gas meter is still the listed as The Jolly Giant.

  20. 21 Dan October 25, 2011 at 23:17

    We need photo uploads!

  21. 22 mitch sherlock November 19, 2011 at 15:55

    Me lovesssss jolly giant ye yey ye ye ye yeyeye love love.

    I miss you baby giant.

    michael christopher sherlock

    xxx

    • 23 Katy Cummings February 18, 2012 at 20:31

      It’s actually 101 Glasgow road and was known as Baxter House as per Alan Baxter who owned the company. It sadly went bust long before the times of You Tube and Facebook I think I was about 14 when it finally closed. The manager was a Mr Edward Cummings (Eddie) my lovely father and he and all employees were very sad to see it go. I still have a few bits of memorabilia but not much is left now. The building is a sad and sorry state now.

  22. 25 iain July 21, 2012 at 01:18

    at team valley retail park, the 40ft high jolly giant used to terrify me as well


  1. 1 Lost: One Jolly Giant at GreyKodiak Trackback on December 1, 2008 at 22:01

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