For me this was the most surprising of all the mascot trails as it was the part of
London I knew least about. The Yellow Trail started at Liverpool Street Station and toured the East End around Spitalfields and Brick Lane, coming back via Leadenhall Market and Lloyds of London. It was the most mascot heavy route we had visited thus far, with 16 mascots to find in the 3.2km length of the route.
|Lunch at Spitalfields Market|
It took awhile to find the right way out of Liverpool Street Station. This is a station I hadn’t been to for years and my last recollection was of a not very nice and rather dingy place in the 1980s. It was anything but now, with a light and airy concourse and the old place looked like it had really been spruced up for the Olympics and Paralympic Games. We were in
Londonthis time for an evening trip to the Paralympics and the mascot trails were very much the hors d’oevres of the day.
|Christ Church, Spitalfields|
Once we had found our way out of the station we headed out along Bishopsgate. It was lunchtime already and the suits from all the surrounding offices were starting to come out for their Friday lunch. We decided to have some lunch before getting going too much and so when we had found the first of the mascots (Pearly Mandeville), our next priority was to find somewhere to sit down. We dropped into Giraffe, a place we had seen before but not tried. It was pretty good, with super quick service and a nice ambience. The food was a strange mixture of stuff but they did us all proud!
Spitalfields Market was a revelation. I am sure this isn’t a well-kept secret but we loved taking a look around the market stalls and some of the stuff on offer was really interesting, even for a hardened non-shopper like me! Around the market were three more mascots in quick succession; Victorian (a very colourful one that showed off some stylised architecture from that era), Spitalfields Market (done up to show some of the merchandise on offer) and finally a generic Wenlock (yawn).
|Welcome to Brick Lane|
After browsing some of the stalls and surrounding shops we headed on our way through the back streets to
Brick Lane, the thoroughfare that has been immortalised in a book of the same name. This is an area that was colonised by people from the sub-continent of Asia and we passed by Spicy Wenlock at one end of the street and then Sari Wenlock, two representations depicting the culture of this corner of London.
In fact as we wandered along the street we had slightly regretted the fact that we had already eaten, for the air was filled with some amazing smells of spice and chargrilling meat. Some of the restaurants had a vast array of colourful looking sweets and nougats in the windows; all exquisitely and temptingly laid out. It was all a bit different from the upmarket cake shops we had seen around
Covent Garden and Picadilly on earlier routes, but equally mouth watering!
A little further on from Sari Wenlock the advertised mascot had been changed. It was billed as Graffiti Mandeville, but what we actually saw was Park Wenlock. Apparently the original one had been vandalised, which was a great shame as the odd picture of it suggests that the original was far more interesting than the late replacement.
|Paley Upon Pilars|
We turned the corner from
Brick Lane into Whitechapel High Street and it was like we were leaving one world and entering an entirely different one! Gone were the tightly packed streets full of shops to be replaced by a huge main road with lorries, buses and taxis thundering up and down. Apologetically Aldgate East Station had an entrance at this point too.
At the corner was the next Wenlock, the rather classical looking Dickens Wenlock, showing scenes from the Old Curiosity Shop, one of the famous novels from this most famous of Victorian novelists. This mascot my vote as the classiest of all those we saw on all of the trails.
|Fenchurch Street Station|
Somehow on this trail we had managed to leave the confines of the City of
London. As we made our way to the next mascot (no.9 – have you been counting?), we passed the boundary post which welcomed our re-entry into the famous old city. I don’t know if it was my imagination but the atmosphere definitely changed from a more working class feel to one of hard nosed commerce. Certainly the buildings changed to very well appointed and classic places that presumably had once been associated with the nearby docks. Many of course were now banks and other financial institutions rather than the headquarters of shipping companies.
We came to Punk Mandeville, a nod to the music movement that had its most famous exponents of the Sex Pistols from this area. I wonder what Sid Vicious would make of a funny little mascot celebrating what he did. Interestingly the mascot was a Mandeville rather than a Wenlock as billed – not sure what happened there? I couldn’t help think that it was a little bizarre. Along from Punk was Cockney, which tried to capture some of the attributes of this most famous group of Londoners. Being a true Cockney requires a person to have been born within the sound of Bow Bells, and this was represented within the artwork.
At Aldgate was also a very odd sight in the shape of an antique looking timber frame of a house on stilts. Apparently this is an art installation called Paleys Upon Pilars and is supposed to be a memorial to the cottage that stood on the top of the Aldgate in which the famous poet Geoffrey Chaucer lived. Its height is supposed to signify the Dream Poems that he wrote while living here. It was put here as one of the exhibits in the London Festival of Architecture and the good news is that it is due to be in place until the end of 2012 and not just its original three month stint.
|Leadenhall Market Wenlock|
From here we wandered down
Fenchurch Streetand it was clear from the hustle and bustle on this Friday lunchtime that business was winding down for the week. The buildings had certainly become bigger and the people in suits more numerous, suggesting that we were really heading into the heart of the financial district. Peeping out from one of the side streets was Fenchurch Street Station, surely the most incognito of all the London Railway Termini and the only one that does not manage to get its own Tube Station.
On the left hand side of our route was the enormous building officially called 30 St Mary Axe, but known to the rest of the world as the
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of this business district the Mayor’s Office had managed to find a small courtyard off
Fenchurch Streetwhere they had placed the next mascot, Contemplative Mandeville. It is hard to think of a more appropriate setting for such a theme!
Perhaps the biggest and most welcome surprise was entering Leadenhall Market. Firstly I had never heard of the market before and secondly it was the most wonderful Victorian architecture I had seen. There was an amazing buzz about the place as everyone was enjoying their lunch hour, either by sitting and chatting in the open air cafes or browsing the wonderful looking stalls. The two mascots here were very fitting – the first was Londinium, a mascot dressed as a Roman Soldier to recognise that this was the original part of
Londonthat was founded in Roman times. The second was Leadenhall Market Wenlock, possibly my favourite mascot of all the ones we found on any route. It was decorated as a facsimile of the market itself and made for a very colourful statue. I’m sure it sold for a lot of money – most went for around £10,000. I would have to make do with pictures.
We turned out of the market and headed around the Lloys of London building to find most appropriately Business Mandeville standing around the back. Across the road was a pink Mandeville figure, which was supposed to be Splashy Mandeville. Sadly for us the original had been changed but a new plaque had not been given. I later found out that this one was called City Cycling Mandeville, although no explanation had been given as to why it was replaced. Next to the mascot was a sculpture of a different kind – I’m not sure what it was but it looked like a rather sinister Guy Fawkes, its face stripped away to reveal the skull underneath. We moved on quickly…
|St Botolph's Church|
After such a cluster of mascots it was surprising how far we had to walk to the last one on the trail – called Bishopsgate. On the way we finally passed right underneath the Gherkin and also a number of building sites for some equally large glass fronted buildings in various stages of construction. Walking around this part of
London made me realise how much the city was changing now that the old buildings are being replaced by these shiny and gleaming towers.
|Liverpool Street Station|
Bishopsgate Wenlock didn’t disappoint. It was outside St Botolph’s Church and showed a representation of one of the original gates to the City of
London. We were now practically outside Liverpool Street Station once again and finished with the Yellow Route. I have to hand it to the planners of the route – it was possibly the most varied and certainly the most surprising of all the routes. I hadn’t expected such great sights and atmosphere from this part of Londonbut it was really buzzing. We enjoyed this one a lot!