Spotted The Hidden Lions Of Fiveways Corner?

By M@ Last edited 22 months ago

Last Updated 01 July 2022

Spotted The Hidden Lions Of Fiveways Corner?

Lions guard the northern approach to London.

We're at Fiveways Corner. This busy interchange marks the point where the A1 and the M1 enjoy a choked snog before eloping separately to Leeds.

This smoggy valley between Mill Hill and Hendon hides an unexpected secret. A pride of lions have made their home here. Each is raised on stilts, like a circus animal. Big cats in a concrete motorland. It's JG Ballard meets Madagascar.

The bronze beasts are the work of sculptor David Annand, to fulfil a commission from the Highways Agency. The artist explains why he chose lions for this most unlikely location:

"The inspiration was very very tenuous but if you look at the building... on Five Ways Corner, you can see a bas relief of a little lion rampant. That was the only thing I found interesting or unique to the site."

Annand calls the work 'Civic Pride', an obvious pun, but one that sounds better than Mane Road. The group installation is a neat touch to a notoriously busy junction.

The dominance of the car has been a matter of friction here since the early 20th century. In 1938, a parade of mothers with prams stopped traffic in protest at the growing dangers. Modern pedestrian crossings have made the junction safer, but the presence of lions encourages us to maintain our guard.

Incidentally, the A1 near Mill Hill is a happy hunting ground for unusual art. An underpass a little ways to the north contains a complete solar system, which includes this uncanny prediction of the surface of Pluto.

Have you noticed the lions of Fiveways? Do they cause snarl-ups? Let us know in the comments.