As you walk along New Bond Street you will reach a pedestrianized section. Continue past Pete’s flower stall and you will encounter a park bench on which two amiable characters are sat, holding a conversation and on the verge of a laugh. Look closer and they have been caught in animation – bronze characters captured mid conversation. These are no ordinary people, they are the two main protagonists of the allied forces in WWII. Named “Allies”, this is a sculpture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
The dark bronze sculpture attracts attention as there is a tantalizing space between Roosevelt and Churchill. Those who can, squeeze themselves between the two figures for a photo opportunity. People stop and watch as young and old, visitors and Londoners alike, sit down as if to interrupt their imagined conversation. Where their hands have touched and rubbed and patted, the patina has changed. These parts glint and shine as brightly as Number 10’s well-polished letterbox, while the rest of the sculpture remains a weathered brown. Sometimes, I have an urge to go in with the bronze equivalent of Brasso and polish it but most of the time, I just enjoy the contrast. While you are sitting here, inadvertently cleaning the knees and the sleeves of these great men, take some time to notice some of the details. Roosevelt, famous for using a wheelchair after a bout of childhood polio, has a caliper on his leg, which you can just see peeking out below his trouser leg. Winston’s defining cigar has been replaced and you can see it held between his fingers – more of an accessory than something to smoke.
I imagine that they are sharing an anecdote or maybe Churchill, with a twinkle in his eye, is trying to tease Franklin.
“FDR, what could be worse than having an East German Communist country named after you?” “Being named after a lavatory, WC!” comes Franklin’s quick retort!
The conversation has ended just before the twinkle is extinguished and Churchill goes into a child-like strop.
This wonderful, interactive sculpture was unveiled in 1995. It was a gift from the Bond Street Association to the City of Westminster to mark 50 years of peace. It is located in the midst of the designer stores of Bond Street but you can’t fail to notice it; two, almost lifelike politicians highlighting their special friendship as well as our long-standing alliance. So, the next time you are in the West End, stop a while and enjoy these two greats of history captured in a moment of lightness that came out of many years of shared darkness.
As a tour guide and a lover of London, I will be writing a series of interesting stories about London; tales I have heard, places I have visited, tasty food I have eaten and delicious drinks I have enjoyed. Watch out for this every week or so.