No 481. See the Improved Trafalgar Square and No 571. Ponder the Fourth Plinth

29 Dec

One of my favourite photos of my granddad is a black and white shot of him standing in Trafalgar Square, his arms outstretched and covered in pigeons.

The pigeons are long gone now and Trafalgar Square is looking very different to the version in my childhood memories, but that’s not a bad thing.


The pigeons at Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery entrance today – minus the pigeons

Nelson’s column stands imposingly in the centre with four bronzed lions standing guard below.  There are four plinths at each corner of the square.  Three are occupied by 19th century British Empire Army Generals and King George IV.  Then the money ran out and the fourth plinth was left empty.

Until 1999, when it was decided to put it to good use by displaying modern art on it.  There’s been Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, a bronze boy on a rocking horse, a pregnant artist with no arms and shortened legs and in 2009 it was opened up to 2,400 people who spent an hour doing whatever they wanted.  Quite a few of them spent it posing nude.

When we went a couple of days ago, there was a very large, royal blue coloured cockerel on display.


Blue cock by German artist Katharina Fritsch

Trafalgar Square has a real feel of past British glory days; the grand entrance of the National Gallery, the British Empire Generals and the Christmas tree donated every year by Norway as a thank you for British support during World War II.  The fourth plinth is a bone of contention for some who argue it doesn’t fit in with the history of the square.

I think it fits in perfectly with the old and modern London has to offer.

No doubt about it, Red Ken really did give Trafalgar Square an overhaul.  There will always be a part of me that misses the pigeons but if I’m honest, our visit was a lot more enjoyable without them.


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