Why is There a Lion on Westminster Bridge?
Have you ever wondered what that massive lion is doing on Westminster Bridge? The tiny plaque on its plinth doesn’t give you much help, but it’s quite an interesting tale.
Originally this hefty lion (it weighs 13 tonnes) stood atop the Lion Brewery from 1837. The brewery was a South Bank institution which used to stand where the Royal Festival Hall is now.
The Red Lion Brewery and Shot Tower on the south bank near Waterloo, in June, 1932. By AG Linney.
Wait, it’s how old..?
Yep. Despite being built in the early 19th century the lion looks brand-spanking new. This is thanks to a remarkable material called Coade Stone.
It was Eleanor Coade who created a secret recipe for this weather-resistant stone in her South Bank workshop. Eleanor was a pretty remarkable women, taking over Daniel Pincot’s struggling stone factory in 1769 to found “Coade’s Artificial Stone Manufactory”. Pincot, who perhaps couldn’t deal with a female in charge, was fired by Coade in 1771 because he insisted on ‘representing himself as the chief proprietor’ – the cheek!
The lion was in trouble when the brewery was demolished in 1949, and the only reason it’s here today is because King George VI stepped in to make sure it was saved! After a short stretch outside Waterloo station for the 1952 Festival of Britain, the lion found himself on westminster Bridge.
Can you find more Coade Stone today?
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