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Who Designed the First Paddington Bear Toy?

The Christmas season usually sparks a flurry of emotions, with gift-giving at its forefront. But did you know that the fictional British bear was initially conceived as gifts for Christmas?

The Paddington Bear toy was first designed in 1972 by Shirley Clarkson. She made it as a Christmas gift to her children Joanna and Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy then became the host of motoring shows Top Gear and The Grand Tour.

The History of the Paddington Bear 

Paddington Bear was created in 1956 after then BBC cameraman Michael Bond was inspired by a teddy bear. Bond noted that his inspiration to write was on the Christmas Eve of 1956. He saw a stuffed bear left on a shelf in a London store. He felt sorry for it, so he bought it for his wife, Brenda. They named it Paddington after the place they lived in at the time.

Bond wasn’t really an author, but when he published his first book, The Bear Called Paddington, in 1958, many widely loved and appreciated the book. He wrote a whole series on the bear, and by 1965, he gave up his job in the BBC to become a full-time writer because of the major success of his book. (Source: Paddington)

A Synopsis of The Bear Called Paddington

The story starts in the Darkest Peru, where a bear was trained to speak fluent English and have perfect manners and was put on a ship bound for the United Kingdom as a stowaway. The bear arrived in Paddington and was found by fictional characters Mr. and Mrs. Brown.

The bear had a suitcase and a note saying please look after this bear, thank you. The Browns took the bear in, named it Paddington, and soon enough was part of the Brown family that lived on 32 Windsor Gardens.

Paddington is known for his optimism, fairness, and perfect manners, as well as his unintentional talent for comic chaos. The fictional bear is loved by many people, young and old alike. (Source: Huff Post)

The Toy’s Design

Although the character of Paddington Bear debuted in the late sixties, it was only through books and television shows that the public got to enjoy the delightful bear. But in 1972, Eddie and Shirley Clarkson, toy designers and owners of a small design business called Gabrielle Designs created two prototypes of Paddington Bear.

The bears were to be given to their children Joanna and Jeremy for Christmas. Jeremy grew up to become the host of various motoring shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour. He was also a broadcaster, journalist, and writer. (Source: Paddington Bear)

Gabrielle Designs was granted the official license to produce and sell the Paddington Bear in the UK. Each bear was handmade in a small factory in Doncaster. The bear grew famous, reaching across the seas into the US, wherein in 1975, Eden Toys acquired the license to make and sell Paddington bears globally.

Bears created by Gabrielle Designs soon became collector’s items as the production from the company was limited since all were handmade. (Source: Paddington)

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