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Friday, February 13, 1998 Published at 13:25 GMT



Business

End of the line for Paddington Bear
image: [ Paddington Bear in the station which gave him his name ]
Paddington Bear in the station which gave him his name

The only British factory making Paddington Bear cuddly toys has closed, it has been revealed.

Gabrielle Designs, where the bear who found fame in the Michael Bond books has been made for 25 years, is due to go into liquidation with the loss of 21 jobs.


[ image: A young Jeremy Clarkson snuggled up to the original Paddington toy]
A young Jeremy Clarkson snuggled up to the original Paddington toy
The firm, based at Bear Garden, in Adwick, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, has debts of more than £300,000. A creditors' meeting has been called for February 19.

It is a sad end for the bear who became a children's favourite after arriving in London from Peru with little more than a suitcase and a label around his neck which read "Please look after this bear".

Gabrielle Designs was founded by Shirley Clarkson, 63, who made her first bear for her son Jeremy - now the presenter of BBC TV's Top Gear - and daughter Joanna.

She said: "I designed the first Paddington Bear for their Christmas present in 1971. It's very sad. Paddington was British from top to toe."


[ image: Tinky Winky one of the Teltubbies, the new top dogs of the toy world]
Tinky Winky one of the Teltubbies, the new top dogs of the toy world
Mrs Clarkson sold the firm - the only UK business licensed to make Paddington Bears - in March 1995 to businessman Stephen Beaumont and his wife Lorraine.

There appears to be a consensus among newspaper commentators as to the reasons for the decline in Paddington's popularity.

The Daily Mail says the duffle-coat-wearing bear has fallen victim to rivalry from a host of newer television characters. The Daily Star agrees. Paddington, it says bluntly, has been "stuffed" by the Teletubbies.






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