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Market trader displaying golliwog doll on her ‘Smokers Corner’ stall says ‘I can’t see how people can find it racist’ as council bosses order her to take it down


A market trader displaying a golliwog doll on her stall has said she doesn’t understand why people find it racist after the council ordered her to take it down.

Sarah Hughes, who runs the Smokers Corner at Bolton Market, in Greater Manchester, said the doll is her ‘good luck charm’ and she’s had it since childhood.

The trader insisted the doll has ‘never offended anyone’, that it’s ‘cute’ and people regularly ask her if it’s for sale.

But the ‘golly’ rag doll, created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895, is widely known to be racist, as its appearance grew out of caricatures with frizzy hair, big lips and large white teeth.

Ms Hughes says she is ‘flabbergasted’ that Bolton Council has told her to remove it.

The 'golly' rag doll, created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895, is widely known to be racist, as its appearance grew out of caricatures with frizzy hair, big lips and large white teeth

The ‘golly’ rag doll, created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895, is widely known to be racist, as its appearance grew out of caricatures with frizzy hair, big lips and large white teeth

Sarah Hughes, who runs the Smokers Corner at Bolton Market, in Greater Manchester, said the doll is her 'good luck charm' and she's had it since childhood

Sarah Hughes, who runs the Smokers Corner at Bolton Market, in Greater Manchester, said the doll is her ‘good luck charm’ and she’s had it since childhood

‘It’s my good luck charm, I’ve had it for 30 years,’ Ms Hughes told the Manchester Evening News.

‘It has been with me everywhere through everything. I had it as a child and I’ve kept it and it has always been with me.

‘When I first set up [the shop] I kept it with me and I love it. It’s Robertson’s Jam. That’s all it is.’

The golliwog doll is best known as the character ‘Golly’, which was used as a mascot for Robertson’s jam until 2001.

Ms Hughes said she has never received complaints about the doll and claimed she is regularly asked if it’s for sale. 

She added: ‘It has never offended anyone.

‘I know some people have been asked to take them down.

‘If someone did come up to me and say “I find that racist” I’d say “well, I’m very sorry, but it isn’t intended that way”. 

‘Loads of people like them. They’re cute. I can’t see how they can find it racist. It’s not a racist statement. To me, they’re positive.’

 Shoppers at Bolton Market had mixed views on the doll.

Speaking to Manchester Evening News, one shopper said: ‘Everybody had one, I had one. It doesn’t bother me personally, to be honest, but then I’m old school.

‘I know a lot of people are offended by them. It definitely is a generational thing. Things have changed so much.’

Another shopper, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I’m sure they don’t have any bad intentions, but at the same time they might not understand exactly what it means. 

‘Some people might find it upsetting.’

Lisa Maynard-Atem, director of the Black United Representation Network, told Manchester Evening News: ‘I do appreciate where they [people who like the dolls] are coming from, but just because they don’t see it that way doesn’t mean other people don’t.

‘It was considered the norm at one time, but they are considered extremely offensive now – and culturally insensitive.’   

A spokesperson for Bolton council told the Manchester Evening News that Ms Hughes was ‘genuinely unaware’ the dolls are considered offensive and was ‘sincerely remorseful’.

‘Bolton Market staff were unaware that this item was on display until it was brought to our attention by the Manchester Evening News.

‘The doll has now been removed with the full agreement and co-operation of the stallholder. 

‘Bolton Market is an inclusive, friendly and welcoming environment, and Bolton council is committed to challenging all forms of racism and discrimination.’



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