Paddington Bear is a well known and well loved character from a children’s book which was written by author Michael Bond. This cheeky bear has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity following the release of Paddington the movie and now a whole new generation of children can claim affection for this Peruvian stowaway. If you consider yourself to be a fan of Paddington Bear either from your own childhood or more recently then you might be interested to know the places in London where you can walk in the footsteps of Paddington, the author Michael Bond or get up close the bear himself.
The first and most obvious place to discover Paddington Bear in London is, of course, the place where he was first discovered himself by the Brown Family. Underneath the clock on Platform one, there is a bronze statue of Paddington Bear; this is almost the exact location where Paddington first meets the Brown Family. Within Paddington Station there is also the world’s only Paddington Bear shop which is the perfect place to pick up your very own Paddington Bear complete with raincoat, hat and wellington boots. There are also a couple of other statues of Paddington Bear close to the station which were used in the Paddington Trail and bought and installed to raise money for charity once the trail closed.
Author Michael Bond used to live near to Little Venice so after you have explored Paddington Square and the surrounding area fully you can make the 10 minute walk towards the Little Venice area. This part of the city has cropped up where the Regent’s Canal and Grand Union Canals meet and now is a lovely and picturesque place with many quaint waterside cafes and restaurants which would make the ideal place to stop for a spot of lunch.
From Little Venice it is possible to take a canal boat ride up towards Camden and Primrose Hill. Although the address of the Brown Family in the stories, 32 Windsor Gardens isn’t actually real, another house was used during the filming of the Paddington Movie on Chalcot Crescent in Primrose Hill so it is possible to head there and admire the pretty pastel coloured houses along the street. Interestingly, Michael Bond came up with the address for the Brown Family by combining his parents address with his own. If you have time it is also worth heading into Regent’s Park and climbing the hill to look out over the city. This hill offers one of the best views of London’s skyline without you having to pay a penny. Regent’s Park is also home to the ZSL London Zoo and although you won’t find any Peruvian bears within, if you have children it does make an interesting diversion for a short period of time. It is said that Michael Bond originally wanted his bear to come from the jungles of Congo but after realising that no bears lived there he changed it to Peru. However, the only bear which is native to Peru is the spectacled bear; yet Paddington is more often imagined as a brown bear. If you want to get up close to a spectacled bear then the only one currently in residence in the UK can be found in Chester Zoo.
From Primrose Hill, you can then catch the tube down to Oxford Street and, more specifically, to Selfridges where it is said that Michael Bond got his inspiration for the story of Paddington Bear. On Christmas Eve in 1956, Michael Bond went into Selfridges and saw a teddy sitting on its own; he bought it for his wife and that became the start of the Paddington Bear journey. Nowadays the impressive toy department is situated on the fourth floor. From here you can head to nearby Regent Street which is home to Hamleys; a toy shop which ahs been selling Paddington Bear toys to the public for over 40 years. As toy shops go, Hamleys is one of a kind with five floors packed to the rafters with just about every toy you can think of, and lots of opportunities for children to try out the latest gadgets and gizmos as well.
The V&A Museum of Childhood
If you don’t mind travelling a little further afield (although in London it is always easy to get back to where you began, which on this particular journey may be a hotel near London Paddington) then the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is definitely worth a visit. From Oxford Street it would take around 25 minutes by tube but it is well worth it as the museum is home to a huge collection of teddy bears which, of course, also includes Paddington. The Paddington on display here is a British version of the bear which dates back to 1980. It is perhaps interesting to note that the original Paddington Bear did not wear any wellington boots; the company charged with making the toy Paddington bears in the early 1970s struggled to keep their bears from falling over and so they placed them into children’s wellington boots…and the design stuck. Fans of the movie will note that Paddington doesn’t wear wellington boots, and neither does he wear them in the books or in any of the TV animations.
If you are a huge fan of the movie as well as the books then there are also a number of places in the city which were used in the filming of Paddington which you may be interested to visit. We have mentioned Primrose Hill above but other locations include: The Natural History Museum, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Portobello Road in Notting Hill and a reservoir underneath Finsbury Park was also used in the sewer scene. Leicester Square may also interest you as the location for the film’s premiere in the UK.