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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Paddington Bears only in Paddington Station for Purchase

This is one of those articles that you write simply because previous searches on the Internet did not yield any sites of notable value. When you’re wandering London trying to find a Paddington Bear – it should be easier to find. And that brings us to the content for this post, how we found Ashley a Paddington Bear in London, England.

Ashley with her Paddington Bear at Paddington station in London, England
Many people know the story of Paddington Bear, a children’s story that was first written in 1958 and has sold some 30 million copies of the book series since that time. Who knows how many millions of bears have been purchased from the United Kingdom.

Here’s a short version of the story:

Please look after this bear thank you.

‘Mr and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ Thus began the first of the Paddington books, ‘A Bear Called Paddington’, by Michael Bond.

‘A Bear Called Paddington’ was first published in England in 1958 and quickly became a best selling children’s book and today, over 40 years later, it has achieved classic status. Over 70 Paddington books have been published, selling in excess of 25 million copies in over 20 languages, and Paddington has appeared in a number of animated television programmes and specials. Millions of children and adults around the world have shared in Paddington’s misadventures.

Ashley usually picks one item – sometime large, sometimes small that she wants to bring home from each trip or vacation that we take. The usual minimum includes some sort of Christmas ornament, if available. From London, she wanted a real Paddington Bear to bring back.

We did some basic searching, and really did not find much – in gift shops, in stores, and in department stores. No Paddington bears. We then asked our concierge at the Trafalgar and over a couple of minutes learned the following.

Unless it is mail order, telephone order, or Internet order – the only place where you can get an authentic Paddington Bear is the Paddington Underground / Paddington Train Station in the United Kingdom. If you want a real Paddington bear (other than the 3” miniature bears) then you need to plan some time out of your day to visit that station specifically. There you can get your choice of bear sizes, books, clothing, and more.

We planned an hour out of our schedule to make the underground trip on the Hammersmith & City line (also available on the Circle line) Ashley was able to get her Paddington bear. It took us just about an hour from the Tower Bridge area, and that was during the 5:00pm rush.

What if you cannot make it to the Paddington Underground station on your trip? Your choices are limited, but you can do one of the following:
1. Visit some souvenir stands in the Westminster or other popular tourist areas. A few of them have the very tiny mini Paddington Bears that you can grab quickly. They are more expensive than the ones from the Paddington Station, but it is hard to beat the convenience.
2. Internet, Telephone, or Mail order. Those are the other ways to get your hands on a ‘real’ Paddington Bear, it just will not be hand picked from the Paddington Station where the bear was “born.”

All of this begs the commentary on why Paddington bears are only sold at the Paddington Train Station. While one cannot be sure, you can guess that it is most fitting place to buy the bear given the fact that Paddington was originally found there.

Good luck finding your Paddington bear – please let me know if this article helped you with a comment below.


Mindy Kinsey said...

Because 2008 is Paddington's 50th anniversary, the bears are a bit more widely available. For example, Harrod's department store and Hamley's toy store both have them. Harrod's will have window displays of Paddington all summer.

But any fan will want to visit the train station anyway -- after all, that's where the Browns first met Paddington and how he acquired his name!

Mindy Kinsey
Editor, Teddy Bear and Friends magazine

Ken Hanscom said...

Hi Mindy.

Thanks for the great comment. When Ashley and I were in London in February -- we looked in Harrod's for the Paddington Bear, but we could not find. Do you know if they are already available or when they will be available there?