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The Paddington Curiosity Shop

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
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What a Strange Name for a Bear
the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear


On Christmas Eve, 1956, a BBC cameraman was shopping in Selfridges when he spotted a lone teddy bear standing on the shelf. That cameraman was Michael Bond, and that teddy bear proved the be the inspiration behind one of the world's most loved children's characters in history.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear


Named after Paddington Station, Paddington Bear arrived in London in 1958 as a stowaway. He was taken in by the Brown family, and has remained in the hearts of children and adults ever since.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear


A star both on page and on small screen, Paddington Bear has now got his own film, due to be released on the 28th November. To celebrate, Visit London has created the Paddington Trail, where you can go in search of statues around the capital. One such statue was designed by Kate Moss, and can be found in the shop window of Selfridges.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear


Selfridges has put on its own little event in honour of the bear, in the form of a pop-up exhibition shop. The Paddington Curiosity Shop is located in the Wonder Room on the floor, and is a place where you learn all about Paddington's history, and discover what the future has in store.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear


Open until the 4th January, what I love most about the shop is the displays of vintage bears. Most people associate Paddington with a blue duffle coat, red hat, and red wellington boots, but the bear has been dressed in a variety of colours, including black hats, yellow hats, brown coats, red coats, and no coat at all.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, gabrielle designs


The first design was by Gabrielle Designs in 1972, and she also created special edition bears in which Paddington wears special costumes featured in the stories. For example, in Paddington Takes the Air, he is in formal attire, and in Paddington on Top he has a rugby outfit.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, gabrielle designs, aunt lucy


One of the rarer special editions bears is of Aunt Lucy, who sent her nephew to London from Peru in hopes that he have a better life.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, eden toys


Gabrielle Designs were not the only ones making Paddington Bear. Eden Toys from America also got the craze, and dressed him in all sorts of costumes, although these were less faithful to the books. The initials, P.B on his jumpers just make me think of peanut butter.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, steiff


For the new film, Steiff has made their own special limited edition bear for 170. There are lots of things to buy at the shop, starting from a limited edition jar of marmalade to a suitcase costing over 600.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, duffle coat


A lot of the items are over priced, including a red bush hat for over 400, but one item that is better value is a child-sized duffle coat for 100. Sadly there are no children's sizes.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, trailer, marmalade


Once you've done all your shopping and read about the history of Paddington, you can then look forward to the future, and find out all about the new film. The shop features behind the scenes documentaries and a trailer, which can be listened to through earphones. This is not the same trailer shown on television and other media, but a longer, more in-depth version. Here you get to hear Paddington speak. Voiced by Ben Whishaw, I personally think the character sounds too young. I do like his posh English accent though, even if he is from Peru.

the paddington curiosity shop, selfridges, paddington trail, paddington bear, julie walters, mrs bird


There are also lots of props from the movie, including costumes worn by Mr. & Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Bird, who is played by Julie Walters. I think she is perfect for the role, but I would have liked her character to have been plumped out more like Mrs. Weasley. I have alway imagined Mrs. Bird as a round woman. Here she looks quite slim, and possibly Scottish, given the tartan. We'll just have to wait and see.
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Why? Learn about the history of Paddington Bear
When: Until 4th January
Phone: 0800 123 400
Where: Selfridges
Cost: Expensive
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