Ingleby bear collecting


Gwendoline Hirst

Ingleby Bear

A new generation

Jennie Woolley, who lived in the village of Thwing, in what was then Humberside and is now East Yorkshire, had an idea, she would make teddy bears in concrete that could live in other people’s gardens. So evolved “Ingleby” bear, named after the village in Yorkshire where she had lived.

The first bear, made by John Hart in Lincolnshire in 1991, was about a foot high, in the sitting position and not wearing clothes, a factor which may have contributed to its appearance of not having been too well filled with stuffing. This bear was the daddy of the family and he is still with us today, but tends to look as though he came from another part of the country, as indeed he did.

Gwendoline Hirst sculpting Woolly Granny BA Education

Gwendoline Hirst sculpting Woolly Granny bear

So how did the main family come about? On the 6th of August, 1991 the door bell rang where Gwendoline Hirst, an accomplished portrait and equestrian sculptor, lived with her husband Brian and their family. On the doorstep stood David Worrall, who lived round the corner. David said, “I understand that you are sculptors”. To which the answer came “yes”. He explained what was wanted and left the sculptors to think about it. On the Friday evening David and Jenny Woolley, who was the driving force behind the idea, went round to outline what they wanted and asked if the sculptors would do it. Brian felt that Gwendoline would do a better job and so, after a discussion, Gwendoline said that she would start on the sculpture “Mummy” bear on Monday the 12th of August, 1991. Gwendoline’s bears looked very different from the original bear and they wore clothes. The model who sat for the sculptures was her husband’s 1936 Pedigree Triang bear named Ted.

Ted sat for the sculptures BA Education

Ted sat for the sculptures

A little story was written by Gwendoline’s husband Brian to go on the label to be tied round the neck of each bear, with drawings of four bears, one drawn by each member of Gwen’s family.

Soon after this meeting in November, 1991 The Original Stonebear Company was formed to manufacture the bears. The bears were first produced in the outhouses where Jennie lived with her partner David; a concrete mixer being the main tool, with bags of cement and a pile of sand the material. David now had to learn how to make moulds as the original bear mould was made in Lincolnshire. The company moved to more suitable factory premises in Middle Street, Driffield in 1994 where the staff had more room to work. Another move was made in 1997 to their present larger premises Little Westfield, amid rolling farmland at Cottam.

Of course making the moulds and casting the bears was not the end of the manufacturing process. Once the bears were cured they were given a coat of bear coloured paint and left to dry. Next a team of paintresses brought their imaginative and creative skills to work on decorating the precast clothes that they wore, which complimented each bear’s identifying features. Brian suggested wire framed copper spectacles which then appeared in full and half frame styles held on with brass screw nose pieces. Grandma wore “pearls” and other members of the family had ribbons. Then came the toadstools to sit round whilst they had their picnic. The toadstools were cast with cakes and cups painted in bright inviting colours.

Things started happening to the bears, for on one night in June, 1992 the bears picnicking in the gardens of the owners of the Original Stonebear Company and the sculptors suddenly disappeared. Their attraction had proved so great for some local villain, who no doubt, had stolen them to sell at some car boot sale. What they did not know was that the grandmother bear had the sculptor’s name “Gwen” incised in its base by David who had cast the bear. Now if you find this bear you know where it came from and the police are looking for it. It might be that its colleagues it is sitting with were also stolen.

During the the period 2000 to 2010 production gradually decreased and then stopped.

Ranges of the Ingleby Bear and Family Collection and the Tiny Teddy Tots

Mummy Bear BA Education            Baby Boy  Bear BA Education

Mummy Aug 1991                       Mummy Aug 1991

Baby Girl Bear BA Education            Rabbit BA Education

Baby Girl 1992                            Rabbit 1992

Snowman BA Education            Snoeboy BA Education

Snowman Aug 1992                       Snowboy 1993    

Tinyboywithhoney Bear BA Education            Grandad Bear BA Education

Tiny Boy with honey 1993                   Grandad 1993         

Granny Bear BA Education            Woolly Mummy Bear BA Education

        Granny 1993                      Woolly Mummy 1993

Woolly Daddy Bear BA Education            Woollybaby Bear BA Education

Woolly Daddy 1993                      Woolly Baby 1993

Tiny Boy with Train Bear BA Education            Tiny Girl wth Doll Bear BA Education

Tiny Boy with train 1994              Tiny Girl with doll 1994

Small Footballer Bear BA Education            Small Boy Bear BA Education

Small Footballer 1994                    Small Boy 1994    

Uncle Bear BA Education            Fisherman Bear BA Education

      Uncle 1994                            Fisherman 1997

Bride Bear BA Education            Groom Bear BA Education

Bride 1997                                Groom 1997

Woolly Granny Bear BA Education            Woolly Grandad Bear BA Education

  Woolly Granny 1997                Woolly Grandad 1997

Sweethearts Bear BA Education            Head Gardener Bear BA Education

  Sweethearts 1999                    Head Gardener 2002

Head Cook Bear BA Education

Head Cook 2003

Enjoy your hobby.

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