Essex pub that had golliwog dolls seized by police shuts its doors

A pub has closed a month after its collection of golliwog dolls was seized by police, with the landlady saying she is "totally and utterly gutted" amid the fallout.

Officers had removed the dolls, which are considered to be racist depictions, from the White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex, following a hate crime allegation on 24 February.

Police said they carried out the action after receiving a report that someone felt racially harassed, alarmed or distressed at the presence of the figures.

Carlsberg and Heineken had told landlady Bernice Ryley to stop selling their beer, while she claimed her maintenance company had refused to visit the premises any longer.

In an interview with the Thurrock Nub News, Ms Ryley also spoke about opposition from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), saying: "I've had enough.

"I feel gutted, totally and utterly gutted. Hurt, upset. I've had very, very much support from many people."

'Young people these days don't understand'

"We've had a few bits of hate, which I personally don't understand because it's part of our life."

She insisted "young people these days don't understand" the history of the dolls, saying some of her "collection" were "antiques".

"I want them back," she added. "I'm going to miss the pub, I'm going to miss the people."

Camra, which is a recognition body for pubs in the UK, had previously said the venue would no longer be considered for any future awards, or inclusion in its annual Good Pub Guide.

The leaseholders Ms Ryley and her husband, Chris, have run the White Hart Inn for 17 years and now plan to retire after closing it on Monday night.

The pub was graffitied and had five windows damaged on 16 April after the seizure of the dolls.

The dolls, based on 18th century minstrels, are now considered to be racist caricatures.

She has denied she was racist and said: "If people didn't like it they didn't have to come through my door."

She said her husband was due to speak to police later this month as she tries to get her items back.

No one has been arrested or charged.

An Essex Police spokesperson said: "At this stage our investigation is still ongoing."

Camra national chairman Nik Antona said it hoped the pub would now "provide a warm welcome to all".

A Heineken UK spokesperson said: "After being made aware of the abhorrent display feature in the White Hart Inn, we advised the pub owners that we want nothing more to do with them."

A spokesperson for Admiral Taverns, which owns the pub building, said: "The licensees have made us aware of their decision to leave the pub.

"We will be looking to reopen the pub under the management of new licensees in due course."