Where we take a closer look at one of our favourite things in London.
What is it? A whacking great mammoth skull in Redbridge Central Library... well, a replica, anyway. It's perched on its own little first-floor plinth, and you'll stumble across it while desperately searching for the toilets.
What in the name of Jeff Goldblum is it doing here? This, my friend, is the Ilford Mammoth! It roamed the frigid tundra here about 200,000 years ago. To put that in perspective, that's about 199,942 years before Ilford became part of Greater London.
Who discovered it? The bones — including the skull, with three-metre-long tusks — were uncovered by naturalist Antonio Brady in 1864. Shame he wasn't around when they started making Time Team, because this would've made a welcome change to the shards of pottery they usually found.
So the find was a pretty big deal? Indeed! It's the most complete mammoth skull ever found in the UK.
So where's the real thing then? Well, the Natural History Museum, naturally. the Mammals gallery, to be precise. In the 1990s, conservators created a cast from the original skull (which we're told is no mean feat) — but this only made it to Ilford in 2015. A long overdue homecoming.
Does it have a nickname like Dippy or Titanosaur? Not as far as we know. It's a steppe mammoth or Mammuthus trogontherii. But we should totally call it Steppy, right?
I wish there was more than just a replica skull tbh... Hold tight! A new Redbridge Museum opens in this very library in summer 2023 — including a section that covers what the area was like during the Ice Age. Steppy is a shoo-in for this. In the meantime, there's also a plaque at nearby Ilford Methodist Church, marking the spot where Brady made his mammoth discovery.
Redbridge Central Library, Clements Road