Christmas Eve 1956, amongst the magic of the season and the other hurried last minute shoppers, Michael Bond entered a London store, with the intention of getting his wife Brenda a gift. What caught his attention, was a lone Teddy Bear on a shelf, which he consequently bought. He was named Paddington as they lived at the time quite close to Paddington Station.
Less than 2 years later on October 13th 1958 'A Bear called Paddington' was published, with Michael Bond as the author, and illustrator Peggy Fortnum having been commisioned to create Paddingtons long lasting, lovable image. The story begins with an adorable Bear Cub having been sent from Darkest Peru by his Aunt Lucy, wearing the only adornments he owned and a tattered suitcase filled with his favourite dish - marmalade! He has arrived at Paddington Station, London amidst the chaos and frenzy of the experienced London traveller, when Mr Brown having spied him and having noted his attached label - Please look after this Bear ... thank you - realised that he may be in need of assistance. Both Mr Brown and his wife decided to take Paddington home with them and adopt him into their family. He is readily introduced to his new family members Jonathan, Judy and Mrs Bird the house keeper, who would become rather adept at looking after Paddington. Now the adventures, caypers, fun and excitement ensues, with the Browns soon realising that there is never a dull moment with Paddington around.
Paddington had the innocence and wonderment of a child, with the sophisicated knowledge of an adult, yet remained grounded and true to himself. Now 150 titles, resulted in 35 million copies of his many Paddington books, having been translated into over 40 different languages, including Latin making this quintessential English Bear most multi-cultural.
In Winter 2014, Paddington Bear stepped onto the silver screen, for a long anticipated, premier performance bringing his way of life to a newer generation and re-igniting the hearts of those that knew him before.
Michael Bonds much loved creation, Paddington Bear was given form in 1971 By Shirley and Eddie Clarkson of Gabrielle Designs, (a small home-based English Company). They gifted the prototypes to their Children Jeremy (now a Top Gear T.V. Presenter) and Joanna as a Christmas present. In getting Paddington to stand they opted for wellington boots, which were infact Childrens size 5 Dunlop wellies, to keep him upright. By the 1980s, and due to the high demand, Gabrielle Designs crafted their own boots, complete with moulded -paw print- soles. Thick felt fabrics in a variety of colours made up Paddingtons attire. Duffle coat with toggle buttons, floppy hats and boots. Later the more popular colours of red, blue, black and yellow were more commonly used, with the famous card label reading - Please Look After This Bear - Thank You - and a satin label stitched to their back.Up until 1976, Gabrielle Designs held the World Exclusive rights to Paddington Bear Teddies. In 1994 Eddie passed away, and in March 1995, Shirley sold Gabrielle Designs to businessman Stephen Beaumont. He then acquired a license to produce Enescos Cherished Teddies, and launched a Collectors Club. By 1998 Gabrielle Designs ceased trading and went into liquidation.
Paddington is still available thanks to creations by Rainbow Designs, Steiff and Artisans.