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Steam, hot rubber and noisy sanding machines. These were the smells and sounds of 1900s Petersfield, as it moved away from farming towards light industry.

Did you know that Petersfield made toy building bricks from rubber before anyone made them from plastic? The town offered the perfect place for the rubber factory: an old power station and steam laundry, near the railway. ITS Rubber made ‘the world’s best soles and heels’ and sent its Minibrix to children across the globe.

In nearby Durleighmarsh, Tiger Toys made building bricks from wood. Their factory used to be a mill, and their stores in Buriton were once used for drying hops. These buildings pay homage to early industries which were based on produce from the farms and pastures around Petersfield.

Did you know?

In 1951, Edmund Hillary prepared for the first climb to the top of the highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest. His shoes had the best soles available, made at the ITS Rubber Factory in Petersfield.

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ITS Rubber Company, Sandringham Road, Petersfield, 1919 – 1985


Pair of leather ski boots with Itshide soles


Salesman’s case and rubber Itshide soles

Case compartments include: Concave-Convex Heels, Harefoot Heels, Commando Heels and Its-So-Neat Stick-On Soles


Itshide Rubber Co. advert for ‘The World’s Best’ soles

Mountaineers and the Ministry of Defence trusted in Itshide’s hardwearing soles. Half of the British Army’s boots made for the Korean War had Commando Soles.


Ben Levy’s notebook, reproduction, 1937

Ben Levy’s uncle Arnold founded ITS Rubber Limited in 1919. Ben’s notebook gives us an insight into the chemistry behind ‘the world’s best soles and heels.’


Minibrix Junior Set


Minibrix pencil, Minibuilders Club badge and application form, reproduction

Membership of the Minibuilders Club was open to any child who owned a Minibrix set. ITS invited members to send in photographs of their designs and gave awards for the best ones. 

Tiger Toys, Durford Mill, Durleighmarsh, 1955 – 1975



Private collection


Hammer bench

Private collection


Assorted bricks

Private collection



Private collection