Monday, 6 February 2017

Wenlock, Mandeville & Pride? A Firm Of Solicitors? Or The #London2012 Mascots?

DC Editor Adam writes…

In December 2016 I posted the The Daily Constitutional's blog post number 5,000.

To mark the occasion I've been digging in the archive and over February 2017 I'll be reblogging The DC's "Greatest Hits" – my 50 favourite posts. 

In addition I'll be sharing my 50 favourite London photos to have appeared here since October 2008. 

I hope you enjoy them

Feb 2017

This one was first posted on the 29th August 2012. Do remember these guys…?

Look me in the eye…

…and tell me that you still hate Wenlock and Mandeville. Here’s what our chums at Manchester Walks think of ‘em (via Twitter)…

I’ve become incredibly fond of the pair over the summer. But I do have to come clean: when I first saw them my reaction was… “Huh?”

“They are clearly,” wrote Creative Review, “of the digital age.”

And perhaps therein lies the rub: I was too old to get it.

My five-year-old daughter merely sighed with disdain when I asked, “Which one’s Wenlock and which one’s Mandeville?” And it is she who helped me to decipher the whole picture. I pass her wisdom on to you, so that you too may grow to love them as I have done.

They were formed, so she tells me, from the metal of a bit of the Olympic Stadium.

[Nice, legendary stuff.]

And their skin is a shiny metal that reflects things around them.

[Very 2012, this: The Shard does just the same.]

Wenlock’s head is more bullet-shaped…

… while Mandeville’s looks more like a kind of cycling helmet…

…while on his wrist he wears a sort of digital watch…

This differs from Wenlock…

… who sports the Olympic rings as bracelets, two on one wrist and three on the other.


Simpler yet is the fact that each has their initial stamped on her/his* forehead… which formed the crux of the “Doh!” moment for my daughter.

[* This his/her business: I have been unable to ascertain the sex of the two. If you have any information, do drop us a line at the usual address.]

Does this help? Have I convinced you? Or are you still of the opinion that they look like the result of “a drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek." (With thanks to the Canadian Globe & Mail newspaper.)

I think the sight of families posing by the statues of W&M all over London, many of them pulling Usain Bolt poses, has been one of the highlights of the summer. Silly and jolly, it has cheered me greatly. I’m going to miss them when they’re gone.

Which leads me to my new campaign: Wenlock and Mandeville for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square!

Any takers?

Two days later I added this…

Have you seen this man… er, lion…

If you have seen him before, well done. He’s been keeping a low profile. He’s Pride the Lion and he is the official mascot of Team GB. His presence at the Olympics, however, has been kept to the world of cuddly toys and kids pyjamas.

We’re prepared to venture that the omnipresence of that pair of egomaniacs Wenlock and Mandeville has also helped to keep Pride out of the spotlight.

Perhaps the incident in Essex last week, where police and emergency services were mobilized after a report of a lion on the loose [seriously folks, there really was a "lion hunt" in Essex. Turned out to be someone's pet cat. A.S-G Feb 2017] was really Pride the Lion skulking away, depressed at having been bullied out of the spotlight by W&M.

The practice of an “official” mascot for organized sports competitions is a relatively recent one. It dates back to 1966 when the World Cup was staged here in England (can’t remember who won that one, drop us a line if you can jog our memory) with the final staged at Wembley.

World Cup Willie was his name – a lion whose mane seems to have been combed forward into a modish Beatle haircut. Here he is…

[The World Cup, for those is deepest North America, is a football competition contested every four years, the winner of which is crowned World Champion. Spain is the current World Champion. And by football we mean soccer, the world’s greatest team sport. Again, you know my email address if you’d like to take umbrage.)

So… sports mascots are yet another London invention. Sort of…

The idea of a fictional character designed to represent an international sports tournament (and to be exploited for commercial purposes relating to said tournament) is a new-ish phenomena, and was born here in London, in an office at Piccadilly, in the 60s. The idea of a mascot goes back much further.

A number of British Army regiments in the 19th Century began to employ live animals as good luck charms – a practice that continues in some quarters to the present day.

Taken up by football teams all over England, a travelling menagerie of bantam cocks, donkeys, billy goats and even monkeys accompanied teams as the advent of both rail travel and the half-day holiday for the working man on Saturdays combined to make football the national game. Fingerprints of this time can still be seen – perhaps most famously in Sunderland, where the team’s nickname remains The Black Cats in honour of their mascot of yore, a stray moggy found at Roker Park, then the home ground of Sunderland. The cat’s adoption, it is believed, immediately resulted in an upturn of Sunderland’s fortunes.

Following the first world war, live animal mascots were superseded by the tradition that still flourishes today: men and women dressed up in animal suits. An early such example can be found in the 1920’s here in London where Millwall F.C were represented by a man in a lion suit. The club’s emblem is a Lion Rampant, harking back to their foundation as the works team of Scottish firm J.T Morgan, a canning and preserves factory based on the Isle of Dogs with a workforce recruited in part from the great jam making city of Dundee. Their ground is called The Den.

That other lion, World Cup Willie – selected ahead of number two choice, a bull dog – from 1966 was the brainchild of Walter Tuckwell, a former employee of both Walt Disney and J. Arthur Rank. He believed the original World Cup poster to be a little too stuffy (it was simply an image of the trophy against a Union Flag backdrop, and can be seen in the poster above) and in the youthful spirit of the times came up with the idea of a mascot.

A single was put – Lonnie Donegan’s World Cup Willie was released on the Pye label… but failed to trouble the charts. The designer who created World Cup Willie – Reg Hoye – was credited on the record label.

Simon Cowell, are you reading this? How about getting Pride the Lion into the studio for a single? It would do wonders for his public profile. You could even make a TV gameshow out of it: Pride the Lion vs. Wenlock & Mandeville competing for the Christmas No.1 spot in the charts.

Which, in turn, resulted in this from my London walks colleague Fiona…

This via Twitter from LW guide Fiona…

And here's the pic…

Are those inflatable versions of Wenlock & Mandeville, Fiona? How cool is that? My advice is to wrap them up nice: next time the Olympics hit London you'll be sitting on an eBay goldmine!

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment