Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Lost Figures of Lewisham

On Robert Elms' BBC London radio show last week there was some discussion of  the 'lost figures of Lewisham'. Back in the 1980s there was a clock in Lewisham shopping centre featuring these figures, which apparently were revealed on the hour.

The figures represented 'Characters of South East London' and were designed by the artist Sam Smith (1909-1983). Not sure exactly when the clock was removed, but on the radio show a couple of people came forward and revealed that they had independently salvaged a couple of the figures - if more can be found maybe there can be a reunion in the shopping centre!





Robert Elms' show is one of those threatened by cuts to BBC local radio. I can't imagine any other radio show running an item like the above, but the point is not just about keeping Robert's show going. The issue is whether BBC London is going to have any meaningful London content at all. Cheap generic shows are no substitute for programmes knowledgeably  informed by what is happening in London, its history and its present - and reflecting the fact that London is not just Westminster and the City but places like Lewisham and New Cross.

There is a Save BBC Local Radio day of action on December 1st, including a 6 pm protest at Broadcasting House.

(photos courtesy of Robert Elms' facebook page, posted by listeners)

14 comments:

Deptford Pudding said...

They were Spitting Image-esque figures, very much of their time. We used to stand and wait with our small daughter till they appeared. Happy days! I seem to remember that when the Riverdale was first built, there was some talk of the interior being designed by the same people that designed one of the big liners.

Anonymous said...

I used to love these figures. I still remember the tune they played as they turned around! Used to make my mum wait until they appeared every time we went shoppng. Childhood memories!

Anonymous said...

I remember these too from my childhood! What a great trip down memory lane seeing the picture here. The shopping centre had its first major refurbishment round about 1990, and I seem to recall that the figures were removed then.

NB: Check out the Beautiful South's video for 'I'll Sail This Ship Alone' which includes some shots inside the shopping centre!

Anonymous said...

I remember the figures as well, I was the same, always made my mum wait until the figures were ready to come out! And I remember the the tune that played along to them as well, I sometimes catch myself humming it to this very day. Its amazing how our childhood memories stay with us.

BRING BACK THE FIGURINES OF LEWISHAM

Jel said...

I'm like everyone else here . I used to make my dad stand there with me until I'd seen the figures at least a couple of times......lol, I loved them.....

Anonymous said...

I can not believe I've seen this! I spent hours watching these figures. And it must be one of my earliest memories!! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Loved these. I remember waiting for the character to pop out from behind the drum and this only happened on the hour or certain hours. Did only some of them turn round on the quarter and half past? Does anyone remember the toy shop near WHSmiths, Burrells I think.

Anonymous said...

We would also love to see a photo of the old Lewisham play area! Loved that crocodile and the camels?...

Transpontine said...

Anyone got any photos of the play area? There's a picture here of a plastic pelican in the centre

Anonymous said...

Even to this day I remember the music that played when they appeared.

Anonymous said...

I also remember these as a child they used to creep the hell out of me! Not so happy memories

Sean Price said...

I would love to know if anyone remembers the music played. Still remember it to this day and would love to know

Roders said...

Brilliant. Thanks for posting these pictures. I had forgot all about these. Me and my brother used to bug our nan to wait there until we got to see them come out. As a toddler I always thought how sad it was that they spent most of their time behind the door and only got to come out now and again.

Does anyone have any pictures of the play area with the big plastic camels and lions etc? would love to see those again.

Anonymous said...

I recall these figures, aged maybe 6-7, (I think the guy with the moving scissors was my favourite) but more hauntingly the on the hour tune still resonates in my head...