Business really boomed during the Second World War. Because of changed import laws, it was almost impossible to purchase new dolls, so the old ones had to be repaired to satiate the kids. Said Chapman, “My father was through the war years, that was the busiest time at the Doll Hospital. At the peak they had 70 staff and six workrooms.” Nowadays older women comprise the doll hospital’s main clientele, seeking help in preserving a doll for their grandchildren.
“When they were children they possibly only got one doll, not a new doll every time you go down the supermarket like it happens today. That’s why it’s so emotional,” Chapman explains. With immediacy defining everything from toys to food today, it’s really no wonder why this is the only repair shop of this magnitude left. The world being as it is, they still repair close to 200 dolls a week.
“I think there were lots of budding hairdressers that took to their dolls and thought it was going to grow back. Well it didn’t grow back, did it?” Chapman says with a laugh. If there’s one thing they can rely on, it’s that kids will always be kids.
Oh yeah… and that disembodied doll parts will always scare the stuffing out of some of us. Rely on that.