Tag Archives: London statutes

Churchill banishes dandruff

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

[L]ocated on a spot referred to in the 1950s by Churchill as “where my statue will go” and unveiled by his widow Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill in 1973. Winston Churchill’s 12 ft bronze statue gazes towards Westminster Bridge shows the wartime leader standing with his hand resting on his walking stick and wearing a military greatcoat standing on an 8 ft high plinth with ‘Churchill’ inscribed on it in large capital letters.

The statue wasn’t without controversy – when the sculptor revealed the first attempt he was told to start again because it looked too much like Mussolini.

Stopping defecating pigeons

A later proposal to insert pins standing out of Winston’s bald domed head was turned down in the 1970s – the pins were intended to stop wild birds from sitting on its head. It would also have given a rather punk persona to the great man, something briefly achieved by an anti-capitalist protester giving him a turf Mohican in the May Day riots of 2000.

But watch the statue for long enough and you’ll notice pigeons aren’t so fond of making their mark on it as they are on Nelson Mandela. This isn’t due to the respect in which the birds hold Britain’s wartime leader, but rather a sign of the respect in which the establishment holds him.

Churchill might be shocked to discover the authorities – exhibiting indomitable Churchillian spirit in the war against guano – afforded his statue the ultimate honour of a small electric current.

Any pigeon thinking of evacuating its bowels on Churchill’s bald pate is soon put off by an unpleasant tingling in its feet. The shoulders on which he carried the heavy burden of war are similarly spared the ignominy of white excrement epaulettes.

The unique privilege has another effect in winter when the electric bird-scarer doubles up as a heater, preventing Churchill from growing a snow coiffure.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 8th March 2013

Cracking the Coade

Standing on Westminster Bridge guarding the gateway to south London stands the 13-ton South Bank Lion, made from London’s famous artificial stone, said to be the most durable and weatherproof of any such material so far invented. Patented by Richard Holt and manufactured in his Lambeth yard from 1720, this stone was successfully modified in 1769 by ‘Mrs’ Coade by the addition of finely ground glass and prefired clay.

[O]VER THE NEXT 70 years Coade Artificial Manufactory as it became known, produced a range of garden nymphs, sphinxes, statues, busts and other ornamental features for buildings, Coade stone can be found at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London and on the tomb of Captain Bligh in the churchyard of St. Mary-at-Lambeth.

As it says on one of its paws the South Bank Lion was completed in May 1837 just three years before the factory closed with a loss of the stone’s precise composition formula.

Our Lion first graced the Lion brewery on the south bank of the Thames near where Hungerford Bridge now stands. Painted red and standing high over the entrance archway he even survived the Blitz. The brewery was demolished in 1949 and our Lion disappeared to emerge to grace the Festival of Britain in 1952. Two years later at the King’s suggestion, the Lion was placed at the entrance to Waterloo Station.

He has only stood in his current position since 1966. When it was moved several items of interest were found in a recess in the lion’s back, they included two coins from the time of William IV and a trade card of the Coade family, so when the Lion was moved to its present site a 1966 coin and a copy of The Times for 17th March 1966 were added to the original items.

The lab boys have rather broken the myth of a lost formula for Coade Stone having recreated it perfectly in a laboratory in the British Museum.

If you want to have a go this is how you go about it:

Its manufacture requires special skills: extremely careful control and skill in kiln firing, over a period of days. This skill is even more remarkable when the potential variability of kiln temperatures at that time is considered. Mrs. Coade’s factory was the only really successful manufacturer.

The formula used was:
10% of grog (see below)
5-10% of crushed flint
5-10% fine quartz (to reduce shrinkage)
10% crushed soda lime glass.
60-70% Ball clay from Dorset and Devon.

The ‘grog’ was made up of finely crushed fired items, such as pitchers (ware that has been fired but rejected due to the presence of faults). This was also referred to as “fortified clay” which was then inserted (after kneading) into a kiln which would fire the material at a temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius for over four days.

As a further blow to his mythical status, our Lion’s manhood was reworked after being considered too large once he came down from his high archway over the brewery gate.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 17th August 2010

Churchill banishes dandruff

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

[L]ocated on a spot referred to in the 1950s by Churchill as “where my statue will go” and unveiled by his widow Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill in 1973. Winston Churchill’s 12 ft bronze statute gazes towards Westminster Bridge shows the wartime leader standing with his hand resting on his walking stick and wearing a military greatcoat standing on a 8 ft high plinth with ‘Churchill’ inscribed on it in large capital letters.

The statue wasn’t without controversy – when the sculptor revealed his first attempt he was told to start again because it looked too much like Mussolini.

A later proposal to insert pins standing out of the Winston’s bald domed head was turned down in the 1970s – the pins were intended to stop wild birds from sitting on its head. It would also have given a rather punk persona to the great man, something briefly achieved by an anti-capitalist protester giving him a turf Mohican in the May Day riots of 2000.

But watch the statue for long enough and you’ll notice pigeons aren’t so fond of making their mark on it as they are on Nelson Mandela. This isn’t due to the respect in which the birds hold Britain’s wartime leader, but rather a sign of the respect in which the establishment holds him.

Churchill might be shocked to discover the authorities – exhibiting indomitable Churchillian spirit in the war against guano – afforded his statue the ultimate honour of a small electric current.

Any pigeon thinking of evacuating its bowels on Churchill’s bald pate is soon put off by an unpleasant tingling in its feet. The shoulders on which he carried the heavy burden of war are similarly spared the ignominy of white excrement epaulettes.

The unique privilege has another effect in winter when the electric bird-scarer doubles up as a heater, preventing Churchill from growing a snow coiffure.

Cracking the Coade

Standing on Westminster Bridge guarding the gateway to south London stands the 13-ton South Bank Lion, made from London’s famous artificial stone, said to be the most durable and weatherproof of any such material so far invented. Patented by Richard Holt and manufactured in his Lambeth yard from 1720 for 40 years this stone was successfully modified in 1769 by unmarried ‘Mrs’ Coade by the addition of finely ground glass and prefired clay.

[O]ver the next 70 years Coade Artificial Manufactory as it became known, produced a range of garden nymphs, sphinxes, statutes, busts and other ornamental features for buildings, Coade stone can be found at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London and on the tomb of Captain Bligh in the churchyard of St. Mary-at-Lambeth.

As it says on one of its paws the South Bank Lion was completed in May 1837 just three years before the factory closed with a loss of the stone’s precise composition formula.

Our Lion first graced the Lion brewery on the south bank of the Thames near where Hungerford Bridge now stands. Painted red and standing high over the entrance archway he even survived the Blitz. The brewery was demolished in 1949 and our Lion disappeared to emerge to grace the Festival of Britain in 1952. Two years later at the King’s suggestion the Lion was placed at the entrance to Waterloo Station.

He has only stood in his current position since 1966. When it was moved several items of interest were found in a recess in the lion’s back, they included two coins from the time of William IV and a trade card of the Coade family, so when the Lion was moved to its present site a 1966 coin and a copy of The Times for 17th March 1966 were added to the original items.

The lab boys have rather broken the myth of a lost formula for Coade Stone having recreated it perfectly in a laboratory in the British Museum.

If you want to have a go this is how you go about it:

Its manufacture requires special skills: extremely careful control and skill in kiln firing, over a period of days. This skill is even more remarkable when the potential variability of kiln temperatures at that time is considered. Mrs Coade’s factory was the only really successful manufacturer.

The formula used was:
10% of grog (see below)
5-10% of crushed flint
5-10% fine quartz (to reduce shrinkage)
10% crushed soda lime glass.
60-70% Ball clay from Dorset and Devon.

The ‘grog’ was made up of finely crushed fired items, such as pitchers (ware that has been fired but rejected due to the presence of faults). This was also referred to as “fortified clay” which was then inserted (after kneading) into a kiln which would fire the material at a temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius for over four days.

As a further blow to his mythical status our Lion’s manhood was reworked after being considered too large once he came down from his high archway over the brewery gate.

Becoming a girl

[B]ear with me on this one, but I fear I might be turning into a girl. And while I realise that I might possibly be reacting in a slightly hysterical manner about this, obviously this only confirms my suspicions that I might be right. Are you with me so far?

Coutts Elephant Right, so there I am, working away driving around London, and everywhere I look are little girls looking and touching these little two metre high elephants which mostly come in two poses, standing and sitting. And you know what I rather like these 258 individually artist-decorated fibreglass creatures that have appeared on London’s streets.

The Elephant Parade which is organised to raise money for the endangered Asian elephant has brightened up our streets these past six weeks. I presume most of the elephants are female as they are tuskless, only the male of the species has tusks, and with their cute decoration they are clearly designed to be attractive to little girls . . . and me.

Their appearance across London can be seen as a unifying spirit behind London’s sprawling diversity and at time drab greyness. These little creatures have started people organising mini safaris with tourists and Londoners alike trying to spot (and photo) as many as the little darlings as possible. We can’t call these elephant hunters’ twitchers so should the elephant groupies be named pachydermions?

A group of these little animals in Trafalgar Square are decorated as Indian Premier League cricketers, while in Berkeley Square a straight line of elephants stands on parade, as if from a scene from Disney’s Jungle Book.

Coutts Elephant 2 Still in touch with my feminine side my favourite is the pink diamante encrusted one on a revolving stand inside Coutts Bank on the Strand. If you didn’t manage to bag all of them they are being herded up and taken to Royal Hospital in Chelsea to be auctioned on 3rd July. You know I might make a bid for one so I can stroke it in the privacy of my own home. A pink diamond encrusted one should appeal to my feminine side, as least that one is a boy, it has tusks.