As a child I have to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Paddington Bear. I was a very prim and proper child and I didn’t like the thought of Paddington handling things with his sticky paws caused by his obsession with marmalade sandwiches and an apparent indifference to washing his paws after (or seemingly before) eating them.
But now in my later years when I myself am often guilty of hygiene recklessness (leaving biscuit crumbs down my front is my greatest crime), I have warmed a great deal to Michael Bond’s famous furry character.
With the release this month (November 2014) of Paddington, a star-studded movie about the Peruvian bear, London is celebrating the occasion with over fifty delightful bear statues located across the capital, designed by various celebrities and stars from the movie. Strong public affection for Paddington is clearly evident from the gleeful squeals I have often heard from children and adults in response to spotting a statue. Many a time have I seen people – mainly adults rather than children – launch themselves onto a statue, throw their arms around its neck and take an endless sequence of selfies with their mobiles.
With a great deal of patience I have managed to capture all fifty official statues making up the trail plus a few unofficial late comers. The search took me as far east as Bethnal Green and Greenwich and right across the capital as far west as Heathrow Airport giving all the statues fantastic landmark backdrops which I have tried to capture. There are a lot of photos here so it may take some time for them all to load and a page refresh or two may also be required. Click on the smaller photos to enlarge them and I do hope the wait and effort is worth it. Enjoy. TLT x
PS the best bear puns have already been used by the celebrities behind the designs, but I have tried to come up with a few more (apologies in advance!).
Good News Bear
Great George Street
Bear in the Wood
Peter’s Hill, St Paul’s Cathedral
The Bear of London
Wonders of the World
London Bridge station
Trying to take a decent photo of Taste of Peru Bear in the middle of busy Borough Market during a very busy Saturday lunchtime was proving quite a challenge for myself and the handful of fellow bear enthusiasts standing next to me. Whilst we were taking turns to take our shots, a young man appeared to make a beeline for the statue and plonked himself at the foot of it. From a greasy paper bag he revealed a large baguette and started to tear chunks out of it with his teeth, seemingly oblivious to what he was leaning up against and to the crowd of people wanting to photograph it. When one person kindly asked him would he mind just moving for a moment so the group could take the shots they were hoping to capture, the man spat out two words both containing the letter ‘f’ and carried on eating at Paddington’s feet. A less patient photographer then stepped forward and pointed out that there were people waiting to take a snap of the statue and he was being rather selfish choosing to sit right in front of it when there were plenty of other places to sit in and around the market. With this, the young man stood up aggressively and started to unbutton his jeans yelling “why don’t you take a photo of my arse instead?!” With this, I just couldn’t resist and retorted “we’re here to take photos of a bear, not a bare bottom! So, would you mind?” I accompanied this with a hard stare that Paddington would have been in awe of. For a moment he stared back at me like a neanderthal, before muttering something incomprehensible under his breath and then he stomped off, throwing the remains of his meal at the statue.
I eventually got my photos, and some rather warm smiles of gratitude from my fellow Paddington fans.
Taste of Peru
Love, Paddington X
Rembrandt Gardens, near Paddington station
I was having difficulty locating David Beckham’s Golden Paws bear near Buckingham Palace, so I went to the palace gates and asked one of the three police officers on duty did they know where it was. They were ever so helpful with one officer insisting it was no trouble at all for him to go into the gate office and ring up someone who might know. As I stood there with the other two officers, only feet from the palace and possibly Her Majesty herself, I suddenly heard the officers’ radios click into life and a deep, authoritive voice calling out to all the PCs in the area: “Sierra-Oscar, we are trying to locate the whereabouts of a Padd-ing-ton Bear in the palace vicinity. Does anyone know of his whereabouts? Over”. It was a rather surreal moment worthy of a Monty Python sketch.
On that occasion the ‘absconder’ was nowhere to be found. He had been deliberately removed and returned to storage in preparation for the Remembrance Sunday gatherings in the area that weekend.
He returned a few days later.
Canada Gate, Buckingham Palace
Little Bear Blue
Noel Street W1
Paddington is Great
Downing Street, Whitehall
Primrose Hill (not quite from the top of it)
Royal Observatory, Greenwich
R; G; B
Bearer of Gifts
Hamleys Toy Store
Notting Hill Gate
A conversation I overheard between two young ladies whilst I was taking these shots:
Girl A: Look! It’s Dappy Bear from N-Dubz.
Girl B: No it’s not. It’s Dapper Bear by Guy Ritchie. From Eastenders.
Girl A: Oh right.
Well, not quite right. Dapper Bear by the ex Mr Madonna.
South Molton Street W1 (off Oxford Street)
Robin Partington & Partners
Canal Towpath, near Paddington station
Christie‘s, King Street Sw1
Tate Modern, Riverside Walk
The Special One
Britannia Gate, Stamford Bridge
The score was Chelsea 2 – 0 West Brom
Paddington Lloyd Webbear
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Gerrard Street, Chinatown
Canterbury of New Zealand
The Italian Gardens, Kensington Gardens
The ‘bear’ fountain has a plaque that reads: ” 1859 – 1939 Presented by The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association to mark its 80th anniversary”
V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green
Horse Guards Parade
Royal Opera House
The Spirit of Paddington
Berkeley Square Gardens
Hanover Bridge, Regent’s Park
Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Futuristic Robot Bear
Merchant Square, North Wharf Road, near Paddington station
The Journey of Marmalade
The Dell, by the Serpentine, Hyde Park
Museum of London
Duke of York Square, King’s Road, Chelsea
By the Globe Theatre, Bankside Pier
Norfolk Square Gardens, near Paddington station
Great Russell Street and Montague Street
St Mary’s Footbridge, near Paddington station
Ant & Dec
Chief Scout Bear
London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5
Hans Crescent, beside Harrods, Knightsbridge
Sheldon Square, near Paddington station
Selfridge’s, Oxford Street
Unbeknowst to me at the time, there were actually two further bear statues in the Selfridges store: Paddington Goes to Whitby Goth Weekend by Harland Miller and Camobear by Harper Heyman. Sadly for me, these statues had already been taken down and were being prepared for the Paddington auction before I could find and photograph them for this blog. However, the lovely people at visitlondon.com have kindly given me permission to use their official photographs of these two statues, so here there are. Thank-you Visit London!
The Mayor of Paddington
Paddington Waterside & Costain
Canalside Plaza, near Paddington station
New Bond Street
Paddington the Explorer
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London
Good Morning, London
Wish You Were Here
So popular has the Paddington Trail been that more bears have popped up in the city:
by 13-year-old Maya Bardsley
NSPCC, Curtain Road, Shoreditch
by Childline intern Rhianna Alphonse-Kalloo (and not the singer)
Childline, Folgate Street, Shoreditch
Alan Shearer’s Bear
Childline, Folgate Street, Shoreditch
Mandarin Orient Hotel, Knightsbridge
Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge
Supergroup Take That‘s Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald joined Paddington stars Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman on the BBC’s Graham Norton Show in November 2014 to decorate their own Paddington statue. See the creation of Paddington That on the YouTube clip below…
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…and here is the boys’ finished design, courtesy of visitlondon.com (thank you again Visit London!)
Oh yes, there was one more bear ….
More information on ‘The Paddington Trail’ can be found on the very in-depth Visit London website here.
There was a Books About Town bookbench paying homage to PB earlier this summer (2014) in London. See it and the 50 other bookbenches here.