London Tank

When I lived in London from 1994-96, researching my dissertation, I shared a flat in an old Victorian schoolhouse in Bermondsey, SE 1. It was a lovely flat, close to central London, but in an area that hadn’t been gentrified to within an inch of its life. About a 10 minute walk would get you to London Bridge. Half an hour on the bus/tube would find you in Trafalgar Square. A 15 minute hike and you would reach the HMS Belfast, a WWII British cruiser moored on the Thames as a floating museum. There were good pubs in the area, too.

Anyway, one day, in a small plot of land right across the street from us appeared a tank. A Soviet T-34, as a matter of fact, the tank that (somewhat simplistically) won the Eastern Front for the USSR in 1941-45. Why it was there, or who had put it there, I did not know. But there it was. On its side was stenciled the legend “Stompie.” It was on my way to the bus stop, so I would pass it every morning and look at it and wonder: how, exactly, did a Soviet T-34 make it to Bermondsey? I mean, it wasn’t a terribly gentrified area, but this was ridiculous.

Anyway, I should have known. “Stompie” has its own wikipedia page, which spurred this post. And here it is:

Mandela Way T-34 Tank

It also appears on flickr.

Stompie, in fact, seems to be a bit of a minor celebrity, having apparently been used as part of an art exhibit (in place, painted a most shocking pink color).

(In the picture that accompanies, the Schoolhouse (as it was known) can be seen directly above and behind the turret).