Paddington in Green Park
The story of the little bear who travelled all the way from darkest Peru to Paddington station has captivated generations of children. Now this endearing character is making his presence felt across the capital, with 50 individually-designed statues placed at museums, parks and landmarks, to tie in with the UK release of the Paddington movie.
The story first began when writer Michael Bond was out shopping one Christmas Eve, spotted one last small bear sitting on the shelf and bought it as a stocking-filler for his wife. This was later to become the inspiration behind A Bear called Paddington, first published in 1958.
During the war, Michael had seen child evacuees arrive at the train station clutching their luggage. The memory stayed with him, and when he started to write stories for children, he created a lone traveller with a battered suitcase, wearing a fetching hat and a label around his neck saying “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Sent from Peru by his Aunt Lucy, the bear cub is named after the station where he is found by the Brown family, who adopt him and kit him out a blue duffel coat to complete his trademark look.
“I called the bear Paddington because it used to be my commuting station and I liked the name,” explains Michael, who has a cameo role in the film, raising a glass to toast the little bear as he speeds past in a taxi.
To follow in the footsteps of the popular Peruvian, choose from four main routes on the Paddington Trail which runs until 30 December:
The Paddington in Paddington Trail is a shorter route around Paddington station, Regent’s Canal and Little Venice, which features a Futuristic Robot design from chat show host Jonathan Ross, a bear made of bricks and the classic Paddington by Michael Bond.
The Royal Parks Trail takes in Hugh Bonneville’s Marmalade bear in Hyde Park, the England Rugby team’s bear in Kensington Gardens, plus St James’s Park, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
The River and Historical London Trail along the Thames features Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and St Paul’s Cathedral. Look out for the detective Sherlock Bear by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Christmas Trail is a longer hike, themed around the Christmas lights of Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street and Regent Street, including Selfridges, the shop where Michael Bond bought the bear that first inspired the Paddington stories. Statues along the route are styled as a rock star, pop star, supermodel and politician.
Other statues to look out for include: Golden Paws by footballer David Beckham, Shakesbear by actor Michael Sheen, the Bear of London by London Mayor Boris Johnson, Chief Scout Bear by explorer Bear Grylls and Paddington Who? – Peter Capaldi’s Dr Who-themed statue.
Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr Brown in the movie and whose statue celebrates Paddington’s favourite food, marmalade sandwiches, says: “Paddington is an explorer – this trail is a wonderful way of bringing this to life and I hope it makes people look at London with fresh eyes.”
The statues will be auctioned to raise money for charities including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which runs the ChildLine service, and Action Medical Research, for whom Paddington has been the official mascot for over 35 years. The NSPCC will be auctioning off the bears with Christie’s, live and online, in December and January.
Discover more about Paddington station and the rest of the London Underground on a London Underground Tube Tour
If you’re inspired by the colourful statues around the capital, you might enjoy a London Graffiti and Street Art Tour