In the summer of 2012 I was pregnant with my first child and in a whirlwind, trying to get myself organised for the very special arrival. The country was gripped by London Olympic fever and a particular news feature about teddy bear manufacturer Merrythought, commissioned to produce commemorative Olympic bears, caught my eye. The beautiful bears were all hand made in Ironbridge, Shropshire, at the last remaining Teddy Bear Factory in the UK. Immediately sold, it wasn’t long before my husband and I took a day trip to Ironbridge to choose a special bear for the bump.

Ironbridge is a stunning place for a day trip, but it’s real selling point is it’s heritage. A UNESCO World Heritage site recognised for its unrivalled contribution to the birth of the Industrial Revolution, the area is brimming with history and fascinating museums. Nestled within it all, sitting alongside the River Severn is the Merrythought Factory and Teddy bear shop. Merrythought started making teddy bears on the site in the 1930’s and the original workshop remains their home to this day; a magical place where each soft toy is expertly brought to life using luxury materials and traditional craftsmanship handed down through four generations of the same family.

As a child I had spent many summer days visiting the towns museums and shops, including Merrythought, but never bought one of their Teddy Bears. I excitedly examined each bear, carefully scrutinising their hand sewn faces to select the friendliest teddy.  After much deliberation I chose a very traditional looking teddy bear whose jaunty, quizzical expression appealed. He had soft mohair fur, jointed arms and legs and was finished with a satin bow.

My daughter is now five and I am delighted that she has a Merrythought bear named ‘Ted’ after my Grandad. I know a lot of people who give special bears to children and don’t let them play with them. Although understandable, I believe toys are made to be played with. My daughter has always been encouraged to play with Ted, and has fallen in love with him now. She’s always keen to tell visitors about him, proudly explaining he’s a special bear she’s had since birth. As Merrythought say, ‘A Merrythought is not just a teddy bear, but an exquisite piece of British heritage and a loyal companion through life.’

merrythought teddybear