I have in my collection a picture entitled Elephant and Tram taken in 1936. It shows an elephant eating an apple from the tram driver.

A bit of research shows that the picture was taken in the Grays Inn Road, making the tram a number 31 (I enjoyed looking that up).

So an elephant in the Grays Inn Road, is that such a surprising thing? Possibly in 1936, yes, but in 1679 the remains of an elephant were uncovered in the very same road. The hypothesis then was that the elephant was part of the Roman occupation under the Emperor Claudius. Nearby was found a flint axe which was a bit of a game changer in dating, but back in the 17th century it was commonly thought that humans had been on earth for a relatively short period of time, and that stone tools were used by people who simply lacked the knowledge to create metal tools.

According to the British Museum website, the hand axe is now estimated to be about 350,000 years old. Elephants were living in Britain at this time, during a period in the ice age when the climate was similar to that of today, but that’s a long time to wait for a tram to turn up.

Published by endean0

Hi, I'm Steve, a London tour guide and owner of A London Miscellany Tours, a guided walking tour company who specialise in small number tours of the greatest city in the world!

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