EASTNEWS PRESS AGENCYTHEY SHALL NOT BE MOVED: The owners of an Essex pub refuse to take down their golliwogs
Chris Ryley, owner of the White Hart in Grays, Essex, has insisted “I will stand my ground” after receiving customer complaints.
He and his wife, Benice, were left reeling when the local council told them they were launching an investigation.
The same whistleblower also told police about it, claiming the 15 golliwogs behind the bar are a “racially aggravated crime”.
Chris, 59, fumed: "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 me 'would I consider taking them down'?
EASTNEWS PRESS AGENCYSTAYING PUT: Golliwogs adorn the bar of the White Hart
“It's all about political correctness isn't it?”Chris Ryley
"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.
"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."
Golliwog dolls are popularly known to be based on a character created by Florence Kate Upton in the 19th century.
EASTNEWS PRESS AGENCYFUMING: The landlord couple were outraged when they heard about the complaint
The character was 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.
Others, like Chris and Benice, believe the theory of the origin of the name “golliwog” is that in the 19th century British soldiers had Egyptian labourers working for them.
Workers wore W.O.G.S. labels on their armbands which meant "Working on Government Service”, and British troops spoke of them as "ghouls" – an Arabic word for a desert ghost.
So Egyptian children played with black dolls which they would sometimes give to British soldiers or they would buy dolls from children.
The dolls were later called “Ghuliwogs”, then changed to “Golliwogg”.
EASTNEWS PRESS AGENCYUNDER FIRE: The council is investigating The White Hart
Despite believing this theory, Chris and Benice now face a nervous wait to see if their licence will be revoked by the council, but are refusing to back down.
A defiant Chris said: "The council has enough things to be getting on with, rather than worrying about this. The golliwogs are staying up.
"No-one has said anything to us and my message would be 'go somewhere else to drink if you don't like it – nobody is forcing you to come here'.
"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.
”I will stand my ground. We will stand our ground.”