Is sale of golliwog-style doll beyond the pale?

Eastbourne gollidoll
Eastbourne gollidoll

The sale of a golliwog style doll at a popular Eastbourne atraction has led to a complaint from a tourist.

The dolls, which some find offensive because they deem them racist, are available to buy at the Beachy Head Countryside Centre.

But the dolls, which are characterised by black skin, eye rimed in white and frizzy hair, have sparked outrage over the years and have even been seized by police from shops following complaints.

Horsham resident Derek McMillan got in touch with the Herald after being surprised to find them on sale at the centre, saying, “I would like to know why the Beachy Head Countryside Shop sells golliwogs.

“Irrespective of whether you find them offensive (and most people do) I wonder about the Beachy Head connection. Are the seagulls all white supremacists? Have the sheep joined the EDL?”

The name golliwog - which in itself has been labelled racist - stems back to the English American author Florence Upton who invented them in a series of picture books.

The Beachy Head Countryside Centre is a charity and run entirely by volunteers. The Friends of Beachy Head Countryside Centre took over the running of the facility in 2004. Over the years it has raised thousands of pounds for good causes linked to Beachy Head.

The dolls on sale there are known as Golly Dollies.

Mike Jefferies, a director and a trustee of the centre, said, “They are commercially available from one of our suppliers and they are not exclusive to us.

“We find they are very popular but we don’t wish to offend anybody. There’s no intent of racism at all.

“We have had some comments along the lines of ‘I’m surprise you sell those’ but we have also had people delighted that we sell these items.”

He said an email complaint had been received about the dolls and that they would be replying to the person once they had discussed the matter at a committee meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

He added, “If we had a number of complaints then we would consider having them withdrawn but people can go down the road and buy them elsewhere.

“We’re upset that someone has cause to complaint as we’re a friendly bunch.”

Eastbourne Borough Council refused to comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “At this stage we don’t regard this incident as a police matter and have received no complaints about it.”

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