A FARM-BASED toy emporium celebrated its 30th anniversary this week.

Neil and Belinda Metcalfe, of Southolme Farm, Little Smeaton, founded Adventure Toys Ltd in 1989.

At the time many small farms were struggling and, with two young daughters, the couple needed to find an extra source of income, but they wanted something different to the usual farm diversification schemes.

It was then they spotted an advert from TP Toys, a British climbing frame manufacturer, looking for farmers willing to sell garden toys from a spare half acre of land.

They cleared the old cow-byre, had a graphic designer friend create an identity and opened a shop on the farm, which lies beside the main Darlington to Northallerton road.

Today they employ 17 local staff and have customers across the UK and Europe - even as far away as Bahrain and New Zealand.

They have faced many challenges over the years - not least the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

Fortunately they had launched their website the year before so were able to continue selling toys on line, packaging them up and taking them to a nearby lay-by on the main road where couriers took them on to their destination.

The vehicles used were then properly disinfected before safely returning to the farm.

The business has steadily grown over the years with has offices, spare parts departments and warehouses, and is still flourishing concentrating on quality, traditional toys rather than "fads".

The shop features everything from dolls houses, trainsets, musical toys and creative play while the garden display area has grown to an acre which is full of outdoor toys which can be tried and tested before purchase.

Toys are from a variety of manufacturers and today the business is the UK Service Centre for Little Tikes, carrying their spare parts for Europe and sorting their returns by liaising with its factories. It offers the same service to TP Toys who it started with.

On Wednesday (29) they celebrated their 30th anniversary with a party at the shop to which customers and friends were invited.