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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

My golliwogs are here to stay, insists pub landlord despite complaints to council and police that keeping them on display behind the bar is a hate crime


  • Investigation is launched after anonymous complaint about the White Hart pub
  • Chris Ryley and wife Benice face a nervous wait to see if their licence is revoked
  • The pub in Grays, Essex, has 15 golliwogs of various sizes in full view behind bar
  • Mr Ryley said he is proud of his pub's welcoming attitude to people of all races

  • A pub landlord has refused to remove 15 golliwogs from behind his bar despite complaints to the council.
    Chris Ryley and his wife Benice said they were left reeling after the local authority received an anonymous complaint about the White Hart pub in Grays, Essex.
    The couple face a nervous wait to see if their licence will be effected but have also promised not to back down after receiving the dolls as gifts from customers. 
    They are unaware of who made the anonymous complaint but believe it was an employee from Thurrock Council who popped in for lunch.

    Chris Ryley and his wife Benice said they were left reeling after the council received an anonymous complaint about golliwogs behind the bar at the White Hart pub in Grays, Essex

    Chris Ryley and his wife Benice said they were left reeling after the council received an anonymous complaint about golliwogs behind the bar at the White Hart pub in Grays, Essex

    The pub, just a stone's throw from The River Thames, has 15 golliwogs of various sizes in full view behind the bar
    The pub, just a stone's throw from The River Thames, has 15 golliwogs of various sizes in full view behind the bar
    The couple also claim that the same whistleblower called police claiming the golliwogs represent a racially aggravated crime.
    The pub, just a stone's throw from The River Thames, has 15 golliwogs of various sizes in full view behind the bar. 
    The issue of whether or not the controversial dolls are racist often sparks fierce debate.
    Many people hark back to fond childhood memories of the dolls, whereas younger people traditionally argue that golliwogs are a racist icon of a bygone age.

    Mr Ryley, 59, said: 'The head of licensing at the council phoned to tell me a complaint had been made and said the same person had also gone to the police.
    'He asked if I would consider taking them down. I was shocked - I told the council I would think about it but I cannot see how I have committed an offence so they are here to stay.
    'Since we have had them up behind the bar in the past three years, there has only ever been two complaints.

    Some people hark back to fond childhood memories of the dolls, whereas others argue golliwogs are a racist icon of a bygone age
    Some people hark back to fond childhood memories of the dolls, whereas others argue golliwogs are a racist icon of a bygone age

    The couple are unaware of who made the anonymous complaint but believe it was an employee from Thurrock Council who popped in for lunc
    The couple are unaware of who made the anonymous complaint but believe it was an employee from Thurrock Council who popped in for lunc
    'One was from a Canadian lady who said "those would not be allowed back in my country" and another was from an English woman who insisted they were racist, despite no-one else in the pub agreeing with her, including a black man who was drinking in here at the time.
    'It's all about political correctness isn't it? Children can't play conkers anymore or have snowball fights in case they are hurt. 
    'The council has enough things to be getting on with, rather than worrying about this. The golliwogs are staying up. 
    'If the customers start complaining, that would change my mind but it is our customers who brought most of them here for us as presents.
    'My phone has been full of messages of support from customers saying "Save the golliwogs".

    'I've been telling the customers about the complaint and their reaction has been "are you having a laugh?". They are all in favour of us keeping them.
    'The council will be opening a big can of worms if they were to take action against our licence for this.'
    The couple have run the White Hart Inn for the past 12 years after taking over when the boozer had become run down.
    Mr Ryley said he is proud of his pub's welcoming attitude to people of all races and backgrounds and said they regularly provide outside catering for Indian weddings.
    Benice, 56, admitted the complaint had upset her but is also defiant. 'It has been upsetting to know that someone complained.
    'I will stand my ground. We will stand our ground. I had a golliwog when I was a child and I wish I had kept it.
    'For me the golliwogs are nothing to do with racism and we will dig our heels in and will not be taking them down.'
    Following the complaint the pub has put up a printed explanation behind the bar of what it feels are the origins of golliwogs. 
    A spokesman for Thurrock Council confirmed an investigation had been launched.
    The authority - which grants pubs their licences - said it would not be giving any more information until the probe has been completed.
    A spokeswoman said: 'Thurrock Council received a complaint last week about items being displayed in a local pub.
    'It is currently being investigated and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.'
    A spokeswoman for Essex Police said it had no record of a complaint against the pub.

    The couple face a nervous wait to see if their licence will be effected but have also promised not to back down after receiving the dolls as gifts from customer

    The couple face a nervous wait to see if their licence will be effected but have also promised not to back down after receiving the dolls as gifts from customer

    History of the golliwog doll: How the outdated children’s toy became a symbol of bitter controvers


    Marmalade firm Robertson's removed its iconic golliwog logo (shown) from its preserve jars in 2002 following complaints from campaigners
    The issue of whether the dolls are racist or not often sparks fierce debate.
    The golliwog was created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895 in her book 'The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog', where it was described as 'a horrid sight, the blackest gnome'.
    After the author created the golliwog, it became a favourite for collectors and was popular in the UK as the mascot of Robertson's jam.
    But by the 1980s, it was increasingly seen as an offensive racist caricature of black people.
    Some people hark back to fond childhood memories of the dolls, whereas others argue golliwogs are a racist icon of a bygone age.
    Marmalade firm Robertson's removed its iconic golliwog logo from its preserve jars in 2002 following complaints from campaigners.
    In a YouGov poll last year 53 per cent of respondents said they thought selling or displaying golliwogs was 'acceptable' compared to 27 per cent who did not.
    Asked if it was racist to sell or display a golliwog doll, 63 per cent of respondents said it was not, while 17 per cent did.
    Marmalade firm Robertson's removed its iconic golliwog logo (shown) from its preserve jars in 2002 following complaints from campaigners


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