Documents recently unearthed from the Alexandra Palace archives have revealed the origins of Leo the Lion. This popular bronze sculpture by the boating lake is been climbed on by thousands of children over the last forty years.
Apart from the name on his collar and a small plaque with the initials CW and the date, 1973, not much was known about him. However, all was revealed when the Park Manager discovered some old files from the days when the Park was run by the Greater London Council.
In early 1973, Sir Charles Wheeler was commission to produce a lion sculpture for Alexandra Park for siting at the children’s zoo. Sir Charles worked on many public buildings, the Bank of England and a fountain in Trafalgar Square.
Harold Sebag-Monefiore, Chairman of the GLC’s Arts and Recreation Committee picks up the story in a Press Release dated February 19, 1973:
We were delighted when Sir Charles Wheeler accepted our commission for the lion…Sir Charles has designed this lion with children in mind and welcomes the idea of them handling the sculpture and even climbing on it.
Although the Children’s Zoo was never built, the Lion was placed at the proposed entrance and is a well-known feature.
Here is the original document