Express & Star

Sandwell antiques store looking for family of loved doll - with a touching backstory

A Sandwell antiques and collectibles store is looking for the family of a doll with a touching back story.

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Phil and Liam Sims pose with the doll and photos of Doris with the doll

Sims and Barrett Emporium in Cradley Heath has taken possession of a Victorian-era doll which owner Phil Sims said was brought in by a woman and which she said had a very interesting story.

He said: "Part of my role at the shop is that I am the antiques person and buy and sell all the antiques in the shop and this lady came into the shop with the doll, which has a more interesting story than most things.

"Basically, it's a late Victorian, around 1880s or 1890s, doll which was owned by a woman called Doris Harrison, who was given the doll as a present on her seventh birthday in 1907.

"The legend that we have, and which we can back up from a 1960s newspaper story about her, is that she was promised by her grandmother that she would get a life-sized doll for her seventh birthday, but her grandmother suddenly died before that birthday.

"That left Doris thinking that she'd never get the doll, but her grandmother had actually bought it for her before she died, so Doris got it as a present from her parents."

Mr Sims said the interesting bit about the doll had come from a newspaper cutting that he had been given showing Doris with the doll some time in the 1960s.

He said: "We got a photo of her from the 1960s with the doll and a newspaper clipping in which she said she had been promised the doll by her grandmother and despite the sad circumstances, she had received the doll and said she was never going to live without the doll.

"She appears to have been true to her word and the lady who brought it in to us said she just wanted it to go to a good home as Doris has loved it for all those years.

Photos show Doris Harrison with the doll she was gifted as a seven-year-old

"How this woman came to get hold of it was that her father used to do house clearances for solicitors and late estates in the 1970s and believes that he picked it up as part of the clearances and just put it in his loft, which she then found when he died."

Mr Sims said the doll had been found in an uncared for state, with the legs and kneecaps all detached below the torso and work being needed to restore it.

He said his new aim after restoring it was to find the family of Doris Harrison, who lived on Steel Road in Northfield in Birmingham at the time of the newspaper article in 1965, and give the doll back to them.

He said: "What we would look to do is get it restored to reattach all the limbs together, so we've got to find a doll restorer to get her repaired, which could cost around £100.

"We think it would be a great story to be able to find the original family and pass the doll back to them after being locked up because it had years of love from Doris.

"We would only look at selling it if the family aren't able to come forward, but we're not looking at it as a profit making exercise, more a way of repatriating the doll back to her family."

The doll is just one of many items available at the shop, which opened at the end of April and which Mr Sims said was not just an antiques store, but a store with a wealth of items on sale.

He said: "We're not just selling antiques as traders would call us a diverse place and we have tried to put up a shop that is a little bit different.

"It means that you can buy an antique piece of silver and an antique doll, but you can also buy modern resin gift wares, interior furniture and technology, with things like USB technology, so it's a real mixed bag.

"People will be in shock when they walk in as they are expecting a complete antique shop, but we are roughly a third and a third and a third of all the genres and products."

To find out more about the store and to get in touch, go to