Paddington history for kids

Paddington Station
Paddington Station (credit: Tehmina Goskar)

Last November I blogged about my experience demonstrating the wonders of history school children at Hallfield Primary School, my first alma mater.

I continued the theme with the local Cub Scouts Group based at another Paddington primary school, St Mary Magdalene (5th Paddington). My tack was slightly different here. The incentive to listen and learn was to earn the Local Knowledge badge. Team competition is also important to the Cubs and while initially they were suspicious of any sit-down activity, when they realised points meant prizes (and these were really good–all my old arcade toy wins). So over two sessions we swotted some Paddington history. I drew up a ‘Top 10 Paddington history facts’ and based a Q&A session around that. Another leader brought in the film The Blue Lamp (1950), largely filmed in Paddington before the A40 Westway–a massive flyover that has forever divided Paddington into an area stark social contrast–was built to demonstrate the idea of change in the built environment. The next week they had to complete the ‘Local Knowledge Quiz’, a series of pub quiz style questions.

Rather than sitting on my computer hard drive I wanted to share these. I found it hard to find a decent source of information on Paddington history, save for the trusty Paddington Wikipedia entry which is of decent quality.

So here you are, reproduced and downloadable, free to use non-commercially, please do give us a mention if you use this material.

10 things you never knew about Paddington…

Download 10 things you never knew about Paddington… (PDF, 34KB)

1. Paddington Green Police Station is the most important high-security police station in the UK. The most dangerous suspects are brought here to be questioned.

2. The Tyburn Gallows were near Marble Arch. Until the late 1700s criminals were brought here to be hanged. London slang, ‘Paddington Fair Day’ meant a public hanging day and ‘To dance the Paddington frisk’ meant ‘to be hanged’.

3. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, was born in Paddington on 22 February 1857.

4. Edward Wilson was a scientist and a doctor who worked in Paddington. He was part of the famous expedition of Captain Scott who tried but failed to reach the South Pole in 1912. Everyone died. Edward Wilson school was named in his honour.

5. Paddington Stationis one of London’s most famous railway stations and was designed by a famous engineer called Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1854. It was one of the destinations of the world’s first underground railway, called the Metropolitan Railway, established in 1863. There is a statue of Brunel at one of the station’s entrances.

6. Paddington Bear is the most famous fictional character from the area. The story begins that the bear was from ‘deepest, darkest Peru’ and arrives at Paddington Station with a note saying ‘Please look after this bear, thank you’.

7. St Mary’s Hospital dates from 1845 and is one of the important places for learning medicine in the world. Part of the hospital used to be multi-story stables for horses that worked for the Great Western Railway. You can still see the ramps for the horses today. Many members of the Royal Family were born at St Mary’s Hospital, including Prince William, and Prince Harry.

8. Before the building of the Grand Junction Canal in 1801 Paddington was just fields. The canal brought goods and people from the countryside to the growing city of London. The canal flowed into Paddington Basin. This area is currently being developed into one of London’s most important business districts.

9. William Whiteley created Whiteley’s [department store, now shopping centre], situated between Queensway and Westbourne Grove in 1867. He was the Lord Alan Sugar of his day and called himself ‘the Universal Provider’ selling everything from ‘a pin to an elephant’. In 1897 a huge fire burnt the store down and flames could be seen from Highgate Hill in north London. The store was completely rebuilt and the building we see today was reopened in 1911.

10. There are two areas called Paddington in Australia, one in Sydney, New South Wales, and another in Brisbane, Queensland. A gold mine in western Australia was named Paddington Gold Mine.

Now take the Paddington Local Knowledge Cub Quiz…

Download Paddington Local Knowledge Cub Quiz (PDF, 6.8MB)

[Answers: Round 1: 1. TR 2. FA 3. FA 4. TR 5. TR Round 2: 1. FACT 2. FICT 3. FACT 4. FACT 5. FICT Round 3: 1. Dome of Whiteley’s shopping centre 2. Paddington Bear 3. Paddington Station 4. St Mary’s Hospital 5. St Mary Magdalene Church Round 4: 1. marmalade 2. horses 3. Blue 4. canals 5. Metropolitan]