License article

Doll Hospital staff mend broken dolls and dreams

Among shelves of spare eyes, wigs and disembodied limbs, surgeon Geoff Chapman has been mending antique dolls, teddy bears and toys for more than 40 years.

The doll doctor is a rare example of resistance to use-and-discard, fixing common doll ailments including broken arms and missing eyes in his workshop at the Doll Hospital in Bexley.

''We're never surprised by what comes through the door,'' says Mr Chapman. ''Up until recently, we were doing a lot of rocking horses and cane prams but now it's mostly teddy bears.''

His business, which has been in the family for more than 100 years, reached its peak during the 1930s when the hospital employed more than 70 staff and repaired gloves, handbags, umbrellas and nylon stockings.

''What has kept us going is the demand for all different types of repair work,'' he said.

''Some customers burst into tears when they see their old doll finished and fixed. Especially teddy bears; they are especially emotional. I think it's most rewarding when people think it's impossible to repair a much-loved teddy bear. You get a big kick out it.''