In London you can find practically everything, even a T-34 tank in the middle of an abandoned lot. Your story can not be more british, since the years have passed and very few know the history of the tank that is in a residential street without explanation.
Of course, the story is almost at the height of such a machine. StompieAs it is called (apparently nicknamed after South African anti-apartheid activist James “Stompie” Seipei), it is a 32-ton T-34-85 medium tank built by the Soviets in 1953 and used by the Czech army.
It is said that he participated in the suppression of the Prague Spring Uprising in 1968. After the “Velvet Revolution” and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, it was dismantled and sold. Thus this war relic was brought to Britain from Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s, it did so as part of a batch withdrawn by the Russian army.
Stompie was later used as an “extra” to the award-winning 1995 film, Richard III, starring Ian McKellan and a young Robert Downey Jr. Two months after it was used to film battle scenes at the Battersea Power Station, local resident and war history enthusiast Russell Gray bought the tank for £ 7,000. as a gift for her son Rhys. The man reportedly purchased it from a military salvage dealer in Kent.
However, it was not simply a gift for her son. Mr Gray was the owner of a triangular piece of land in South London (Southwark), and he wanted to build a house on the land, but the Permission was repeatedly refused by the Local Council Planning Department.
So, as they say in the neighborhood, frustrated by the situation, Gray asked the city council for permission to install a ‘tank’. The Council thought that It was a septic tank, or maybe a water tank, and approved the petition.
As there were also no restrictions on having vehicles on his plot of land, within a few weeks of permission, he moved the deactivated military tank to the site, and did so by directing the weapon to the planning office. in an act of humorous protest.
Today, more than 25 years later, the abandoned tank has become part of the neighborhood, a sculpture loved by the locals where there is even a small team of volunteers that maintains it. In fact, over the years it has served as canvas of street artists who have been changing the outer “skin”.
By the way, finding it is relatively easy. Search Google Maps for Stompie garden and it will directly show you the address and how to get there (Stompie is at the junction with Mandela Way). Also, since you are there you could visit the Imperial War Museum which is about a 30 minute walk away. [Wikipedia, AtlasObscura]