Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought in golliwogs row

Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought today defended selling golliwogs on its website and said: “They are an innocent, traditional British toy”.

Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought today defended selling golliwogs on its website and said: “They are an innocent, traditional British toy”.

The Ironbridge company found itself caught up in a row after a national newspaper claimed the golliwogs were out of keeping with its role as manufacturer of the official London 2012 Olympic teddy bear.

The newspaper quoted former British sprinter Darren Campbell as saying the golliwogs were not in the Olympic spirit.

But today Merrythought boss Sarah Holmes said the golliwogs were nothing to do with the Olympics and the range was discontinued.

The golliwogs, named Liquorice Lenny and Liquorice Lucy, are 18ins high and wearing Liquorice Allsorts themed clothing.

They were on the company’s website for sale at about £100 but have now been removed. However, other specialist toy sites are selling the dolls for £123. [24link]

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Comments for: "Shropshire teddy bear maker Merrythought in golliwogs row"

Iron Flag

I'm glad merrythought have defended themselves over this childish attack. Great traditional company that needs supporting not bashing.

Jeffrey Borra

Agree 100% its time common sense overrides P.C.

The Original Jake

It's a delicate one and Merrythought have got to think carefully about their position on this.

On the one hand, there are millions of people (of all ethnicities) who are not offended by the term 'golliwog' at all.

On the other hand, there are some who are. And there are newspapers who are quick to seize on it and create negative publicity. And if that happens to be a popular national daily, then it's all very well standing your ground and trying to argue your point, but ultimately you could be on a loser and perhaps its time to consider whether you prefer to sacrifice your principles or your business.


It's only journalists who are using the term 'Golliwog', Merrythought and other makers of the dolls only ever call them 'Gollies'

The Original Jake

That's just semantics though and it doesn't make any difference to somebody trying to make a big deal out of it.


Why should 'anyone' be worried in case 'someone' makes a big deal out of it?

One ex runner doesnt represent anyone but himself in this, if just two of these toys have been sold then he has been out voted

The Original Jake

@salopian: "Merrythought" might want to be worried in case "The National Press" wants to make a big deal out of it. They can be rather influential.

David, Germany

Oh my goodness! David Cameron speaks of "broken society" "moral collapse" Is it any wonder!

Gollywogs belong to an unbroken society without insults to anyone - in fact my nickname has been Gollywog for many, many years and I do not take offence. Btb I am a good original Salopian full of original English genes (the book "Seven Daughters of Eve" would dispute the originality however.

Forcing Merrythought to retract is playing into the hands of those hell bent on breaking society, and I don't care which side such persons might think they are on.

Maybe Merrythought should consider producing a new range - Muppets - Ah! that won't work so let's call the range politicians. Just imagine everyone could collect theri own House of Commons, even Shropshire County Council.


David. [Gollywog] I agree with you 100%.


How strange that these toys never offended anyone until the Government introduced the Racial Discrimination Act.


I think you'll find they have offended people for a long time it's just that way back when to be offended suggested some flaw in one's character. Thankfully those days have gone


You seem to be in the minority in this one Simon (Irony not intended) read the posts - most people see them as a childs toy so why try to use them as a symbol of something that isnt there?

The Original Jake

The handful of folk (probably made up of an extremely narrow white, middleish class demographic) who comment on the web site of a paper that represents one of the least populated counties of a small country is not "most people".

let me have my say

What wrong with then they look great, there is also someone who has to spoil the party and bring in polictical correctness etc..Its just a soft toy made out black material. end of!


I love Gollys, we always had them as children and I have one now they are sweet and lovely. Why is we can have all sorts of (often ugly) white dolls but gollys are not p.c. What I want to know is if any black people are actually offended by gollys? If so why aren't any white people offended by some white dolls? Maybe they are but I can't imagine them being removed from sale!


me to pity they not make more of them, wonder if robinsons jam will make more golliwog badges like they used to when i was younger.

G.T Archer

What is all this nonsense about these

wonderfull looking Gollywogs, and why are these to athletes complaining about them, they

have nothing to do with the Olympics, good

luck to Merrythought I hope you will produce

hundreds more.


If Merrythought are a great traditional company hoping to cash in on the Olympics, then they have been crassly naive with this product, whether it is linked to the games or not. Even those who like such items (and hark back to a time when it was acceptable to offend other races) would know that this would cause problems. I do wonder what great mind deemed this to be a good idea!


Simon. Are you not proud to be English?


Strange non sequitur John. Is it some kind of new game? Ok, me next.

Giraffes do not ride bicycles.


I know I'm not proud to be English when someone asks a STUPID question like that!!!!


Am I not proud to be English? My nationality actually doesn't bother me. I admire some English qualities: Decency, fairness, tolerance to name a few. I admire many of the good things the English have contributed to the world. I despair at some of the comments on this page and the attitudes they reveal. These toys/dolls belong in a bygone time, not in a modern multicultural society that professes to have moved on from some of the ignorance and prejudice of the past. I am proud of those English people - whatever their heritage - who stand up against such attitudes.


I dispair with this country, we should be supporting British manufacturing and reputable businesses like Merrythought not finding pathetic reasons to pick holes in them. I don't see any relavance gollies have to the mohair Olympic teddy bears Merrythought are producing. Surely there are more important things going on in this country to discuss. Have a look at the article on Yahoo News and you will see over 800 comments in favour of Merrythought - it restored a bit of faith in me.


Lisa Maxwell, tv presenter on Loose Women began this debate about Merrythought making gollys.

Did she realise the 'race row' that her 'malicous tongue' would create. Keep Merrythought and its wonderful staff producing beautiful bears for us all to cherish.


Merrythought should be free to produce dolls of any kind, we don't need this silly PC tirade creeping in. I don't know who Darren Campbell is but it sounds as if he has a massive chip on his shoulder


They are free produce dolls of any kind,


Is this article barely worthy of comment or are most of the comments not being posted; such as the one I wrote last night?

I made a reasonable (non racist) comparison, that may have stimulated a sensible debate on the subject.


Over the top storm in a tea cup,


I am a 72year old grannie,I had a golliwog handmade by my mother during the war,my children both had Merrythought golliwogs which emigrated to Canada with us and two of my Grandchildren had them,purchased when I visited Ironbridge.I thought they were based on minstrals who were white people blacked-up for entertaining.

Good luck Merrythought and I love my mole bought at your shop last October.


I was in Blackpool the other day, passing a shop there were Gollywogs in the window, I said to my wife "that's strange shops selling Gollywogs" so I went in the shop. And guess what. It was a asian shop. Would this have been allowed in a English shop? No.


Not allowed in an English shop? The shop was English - it was in Blackpool. Geography not your strong point John?

Unless you mean people of Asian ethnicity cannot also be English? Surely not, you are not quite that dumb John I am sure. Although....

And as for it not being "allowed" I do believe that any shop is free to sell them. In fact, I think there may even be a manufacturer of these dolls in Shropshire. You probably wouldn't have known that though, it's not like there have been any newspaper articles recently.


pickaxe, Owing to your limited education I will try to enlighten you.

Yes Blackpool is in England. So therefor the shop was indeed English.But all the people that were behind the counter were Asian. Either renting the shop or have bought it. Are you following me? They were selling Gollywogs. Had I have gone into a English shop with English people behind the counter, again either rented or bought, there would have been an outcry and they would be called racist. [As happened a little while ago when the local lady was making dolls for charity, do you remember? it was widely reported in the press including the SS.] I have been to India a few times Goa and the island of Sri Lanka and I find them charming people.


Thanks for the enlightenment John. We’re lucky to have a proper Professor of Opinions ‘n’ Stuff like you on the Star website.

I also admire your chutzpah – there are not many people who would march into a shop and insist on doing a passport check to establish whether the shop owners were British Nationals or not. Rather than make lazy assumptions based on ethnicity or something. Good on you. I take it all back.

Sri Lanka is not part of India by the way but maybe that was not what you meant, just a poorly constructed sentence – I forgive you, you’re a busy man what with all the professoring and stuff.

But I’m also intrigued by your ability to meet a group of people – say some Sri Lankans whilst on holiday – and ascertain that the whole race are “charming people”. It’s a remarkable ability you have there and not at all condescending, or blithely racist.

Keep posting John. You are the gift that keeps on giving.


pickaxe: Its the same as saying that an african can only be black. I was born in and lived my entire life in africa, but I can not legally call myself an african (in South Africa at least)!

On the other hand one day I will be British, but could I really become 'English?' If I lived in asia for 5 or 10 years would you call me an asian?


You're confusing ethnicity and nationality.

Someone of asian ethnicity born in England is as English as the Queen. An asian born overseas who comes to the UK and acquires British citizenship is as British as Prince Phillip (Greek Phil).

Ad for your own circumstances - that is plain daft - clearly you are an african, whether or not the SA government categorize you that way or not.


There is a old saying that was told to me many years ago. "If a dog was born in a stable it is still a dog"

eva land

I wish Merrythought would concentrate on promoting Shropshire and it's citizens. A brainless looking sheep toy/effigy called true salopian in a daft rural smock would be an absolute winner.


Possibly eve, but i doubt very much people if any would get all worked up about it.


Golly gosh; maybe Cental Goverment should consider banning Cabbage Patch dolls for their cunning resemblance?


This reminds me of the furore over Action Man (TM).

A more inaccurate representation of the white male is hard to create. He has a flat stomach ferchrissakes!

Mind you, in many other ways, the doll was always anatomically correct.


"Anatomically Correct"

I must go and see my doctor - I think I've had a (rather large) defect since birth!


"Darren Campbell, who won gold for Britain in the 4x100m at the 2004 Games in Athens, said the dolls were not in the Olympic spirit".Are these toys taking part in the Olypics or something and is he worried they may do better than him lol. I have a golly and they are just a stuffed toy and nothing else they do not even look like a human or even anything else come to think of it.

eva land

#15 Janet

Shame on you then Janet for not bothering to find out/learn about the real history of them.

You appear to be able to use a computer so why not see if you feel the same having discovered their origin. Would you feel the same about the subject if you were aware of the demeaning and humiliating intention?


Eve that was then this is now, they are now seen by the majority as a harmless rag doll. Some ethnic MAY find them offensive but it is mainly white who shout the loudest .


Why is it usually silly white middle-class lefties that take offence at this kind of thing?

I bet most black people don't take offence at this kind of nonsense.

eva land

Sprinter Darren Campbell, gold medallist at the 2004 Games in Athens, said: “Golliwogs are completely incompatible with the Olympic values of fairness and equality.”

Fellow sprinter Derek Redmond added: “This is 2012 not 1912.”

Wrong HM.

Harold Peasbody

Golliwogs are racialist and imperialist. How can we ever wish to build a better society while companies peddle such offensive items? It says it all that it's a Shropshire company that makes and sells these wretched "toys".

atcham jack

and robertsons jams have a lot to answer for as well. nice to hear the forthright views of harold peasebody again. how is fifi your poodle by the way?

i suppose golliwogs are a throwback to the repugnant slave trade if we are honest. merely calling the dolls gollies is still wrong. i am glad the manufacturers have withdrawn these dolls which will now become collectors items but i wish merrythought and all shropshire manufacturers good luck in these difficult times.

at least that ruddy awful sunday rag has given much publicity to merrythought, ironbridge and shropshire. there is no such thing as bad publicity.

R Suppards

We have a cheerful and amusing-looking Gollywog amongst other soft toys such as owls, lions, seals and suchlike. I think I'll put a selection of these in the front window, and see if anyone accuses me of being offensive? I recall a situation in Leicester some years ago whereby a lady who happened to have a large innocuous collection of ceramic pigs would put a number of them in her front bay window, occasionally switching them around. Somebody made an infantile complaint and she was forced to remove them! Lunacy!

eva land

So next you are going to say Darren Campbell and Derek Redmond are disguised white liberal lefties, HM?


I do not understand your point at all R Suppards but if you are happy to intentionally or maybe unintentionally offend black people then what does that say about you?

With regard to the ceramic pigs were they given people's names or dressed in police uniforms? I find it hard to believe that intelligent as pigs are, they have now developed human traits and consequently a dislike to being humiliated.

We are talking about offending other fellow human beings here you know and it seems infantile if you fail to recognise that.

R Suppards

Can you believe this? I saw a doll in a shop the other day - it was WHITE - I was TERRIBLY offended. I think I'll write to my MP and get this offensive doll, which pokes fun at white people, banned.


Lighten up you lot. A doll is a doll is a doll. It has to be one colour or another. Tell you what, make it green, then you'll be OK until the Martians land.

Fidel Castrato

So the company decided to drop the product because of low sales rather than its potential to offend.

How considerate!


I see the Thought Police have been working overtime


Golliwogs or no golliwogs, i'll put money on, that if a survey was carried out, about who actually cares about this, turns out to be the majority, and im talking everyone, black white asian, whatever.

It's a doll, a black one, thats it end of.

Judi Nester

my aunty miff made me a gollywog when i was little it had a blue jacket and striped trousers and i loved it, that was many years ago i admit while talking to a dark skinned lady one day about this issue a few years ago she told me that majority of dark people did not mind it was just the white people who had a problem


I was very upset by this childish act, i was to have the 2 gollys for my birthday present you have spoilt my bithday i have never heard a bad word agains them until i read the artical in the star how you can letDarren Cambell dictate ill never understand.


Bring back the Golly !