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 peoples 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 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. Gwendolines bears looked very different from the original bear and they wore clothes. The model who sat for the sculptures was her husbands 1936 Pedigree Triang bear named Ted.
Ted sat for the sculptures
A little story was written by Gwendolines 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 Gwens 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 bears 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 sculptors 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 Aug 1991
Mummy Aug 1991
Baby Girl 1992
Snowman Aug 1992
Tiny Boy with honey 1993
Woolly Mummy 1993
Woolly Daddy 1993
Woolly Baby 1993
Tiny Boy with train 1994
Tiny Girl with doll 1994
Small Footballer 1994
Small Boy 1994
Woolly Granny 1997
Woolly Grandad 1997
Head Gardener 2002
Head Cook 2003
Enjoy your hobby.