Pub that displayed golly dolls closes with owners planning to move to Turkey

Landlords of the White Hart Inn, in Grays, Essex, had a collection of 30 dolls (Picture: PA/SWNS)

The pub that insisted on displaying golliwog dolls has closed and its landlords are moving abroad.

The couple who ran the White Hart Inn, in Grays, Essex, closed up for the final time ever on Monday night and plan to retire in Turkey.

Co-leaseholder Benice Ryley, 61, said she felt ‘totally and utterly gutted’ and blamed ‘young people these days’ for ‘not understanding where the gollies originated from’ and ‘ruining her life’.

She and her husband Chris, who have had the pub for 10 years, made the decision to walk away after the police launched a hate crime investigation against them and national outrage followed.

The venue was taken off the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide and removed the Pub of the Year awards on display.

Heineken and Carlsberg also responded to the controversy, demanding the pub stop serving their larger and maintenance company Innserve refused to work on the site.

The pub was subject to acts of vandalism on April 16, with five windows and a door damaged.

The couple did not want to have to get rid of their collection (Picture: East News Press Agency)

Bernice’s collection of around 30 dolls – donated by her aunt and customers – was seized on April 4 because of an anonymous complaint.

She told Thurrock Nub News: ‘I had them when I was a child and it just started from there.

‘If people think that a golly doll looks like them, they’re the ones who have a problem and they’re the ones who are racist. I’m not, I’m far from it.’

She went on to argue that she welcomes ‘all different cultures’ into the pub and said she trades under the company name ‘India Inns Limited’ and ‘that must tell people something’.

Chris is set to be interviewed by officers later this month.

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It is not clear what will happen to the pub now but the company that owns it, Admiral Taverns, told the BBC: ‘We will be looking to reopen the pub under the management of new licensees.’

Essex Police confirmed it was still investigating an allegation of hate crime.

Golliwog dolls are based on a character created by Florence Kate Upton in the 19th century.

Upton’s character was, in turn, based on a blackface minstrel – a white person who painted their face black, had exaggerated frizzy hair, and wore bright pink lipstick in a racist caricature of black people. The dolls, like ‘blackface’, are generally considered to be racist.

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