CHRISTMAS wishes can come true. Three weeks ago, Looking Back was tantalised by the prospect of finding a teddy bear made in a toy factory established in Richmond by a Nazi escapee after the Second World War.

Rosemary Thompson of Middleham has made our dreams come true, although her much loved Pooh bear is rather threadbare after all these years.

“He was bought for me by my father when I was either three or four (I was born in 1942 but please keep that quiet),” she says. “We lived in Richmond at the time as Dad was a serving officer in the Green Howards.

“I remember being told that Pooh was made by wounded soldiers.”

In November 1945, the D&S reported how Mr Gruinseid, an Austrian who had been imprisoned and ill treated by the Nazis, had fled to Richmond where, with the help of the town council, he had opened a toy-making factory in an old racing stables.

“Mr Gruinseid is an expert model and toy maker and Mrs Gruinseid is equally capable of soft toy making,” said the D&S of the couple who, pre-war, had had a toy-making business in Vienna.

The D&S printed a couple of photos showing a handful of people at work in the new factory, and said it was hoping to employ 30 people – were wounded soldiers among them?

“Pooh is made of a what looks like fine leather and fur,” says Rosemary. “He has movable arms and legs and is stuffed with wool.

“He is now very worn, partly by old age but he’s also done a lot of world travelling – Pooh went with the regiment to Hong Kong when we were posted out there.”

We may never know whether Pooh was made by the Gruinseids, but he certainly looks as if he has a fascinating story to tell – if only bears could talk.

Pooh would probably tell about his lost companion.

“I also had a piglet but he fell prey to the moths as he was only made of pink felt,” says Rosemary.

Any other Richmond-made toys or bears, or any information on the Gruinseids? Please email