1. Built environment
  2. Architecture & design
May 1, 2015updated 20 Jul 2021 2:37pm

Hundreds of people are demanding that a statue of a British railway engineer comes with its own duck

By City Monitor Staff

So, more than 800 people have signed a petition, demanding the addition of a duck to a statue of a railway engineer at London’s King’s Cross Station. Funny the things people get angry about, isn’t it?

The statue in question would look like this:

Image: Gresley Society.

And here it is accompanied by its feathered friend:

Image: Gresley Duck Campaign.

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(There’s a joke here somewhere about whether you’d rather have 100-duck sized statues or one statue-sized duck, probably, but I can’t be bothered to find it.)

The human element of the statue represents Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941), the locomotive engineer behind trains including the Flying Scotsman and his then record-breaking Mallard. The duck, which would represent the latter of these (and his love of, y’know, ducks), was removed from the design last month at the request of various of Gresley’s descendents, who thought the whole thing silly.

Since then, though, there has been a surge of support for the duck’s reinstatement. Some choice quotes from the Gresley Society Trust’s Facebook page:

Remove the Mallard, the one thing that makes people remember for all time Sir Nigel Gresley, what’s next a statue of Winston Churchill without his cigar?

Save the duck ! It makes perfect sense for the sculpture and gives it an instant connection to his work and why the statue is there ! It also gives it heart something needed in today’s world!

What could be more congenial than an old man with a duck?

What indeed?

The petition has attracted significant media attention, and a growing number of supporters (honestly, it’s up a couple of dozen in the time it’s taken me to write this far). People, it seems, love ducks.

When you start to look for them, in fact, giant representations of ducks seem to pop up everywhere. Look:

Image: Jessica Hromas/Getty.

This is the 18-metre tall inflatable duck, designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, which went on a tour of the Asian coast line in 2013. Here she is enjoying the sights of Hong Kong.

Image: Teh Eng Koon/AFP/Getty.

This one’s in Beijing, and dates from 2007. Our photo library links it to the bird flu epidemic which was on at the time, which is a bit dark, to be honest.

Image: Joe Raedle/Getty.

Here are some duck statues playing joyfully with some children on Boston Common, back in 2006

Image: Jay Director/AFP/Getty Image.

And here are some more children, this time inappropriately touching a giant statue of Donald Duck. This is in the Filipino municipality of Sagbayan which, the internet tells us, means “place for hanging”. Make of that what you will.

Image: Getty.

Here’s Donald again, posing with singer Jennifer Hudson, and decked out in full naval regalia. The statue is on the Disney Dream cruise ship, so it’d be stupid if he wasn’t in uniform, really. (He’s an admiral, since you ask.)

Image: Sean Gallup/Getty.

Last but not least, there’s this effort, showing Russian actress Mariella Ahrens posing with a statue of a duck to promote the premiere of the 2004 restaurant variety show (??) Pomp, Duck & Circumstance (???).

We’ve been trying to think of a witty comment to end this on, but all we can think to say is:

Why on earth is it wearing a Union Jack bow tie?

That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. Take it or leave it.

People love ducks.

This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.
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