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Cabbie’s Curios: Old Tom of Leadenhall

The goose being held by the little boy in the picture below is known as ‘Old Tom.’

Old Tom was a real bird, born in 1797.

Like most geese hatched in the countryside surrounding London, Tom’s short life was destined to end in slaughter and plucking at Leadenhall Market.

However, Tom was no fool… as the moment of execution approached, the canny bird made an inspired dash for freedom!

Tom evaded every attempt at capture, remaining a fugitive in the vicinity for several days.

Eventually, the folk at Leadenhall decided to give the bold bird a reprieve. Tom was left in peace and given the freedom of the market.

The lucky goose quickly became a popular character and the market’s mascot.

He would spend his carefree days waddling around Leadenhall, popping in and out of the numerous taverns where his many fans were only too happy to feed him.

With this unprecedented freedom and protection, Old Tom managed to keep going for many years and finally passed away at the ripe old age of 38; an amazing lifespan for a goose.

When the popular bird died in 1835, the traders at Leadenhall were so heartbroken that they allowed Old Tom to lie in state at the market, thus allowing the public to pay their final respects.

*

Today, two identical representations of Old Tom can be seen about a ¼ mile away from his Leadenhall Market Home. They sit high on top of the old Midland Bank building, a stone’s throw from the Bank of England.

Rather appropriately, the road upon which this building stands is called… ‘Poultry’! 

If you want to raise a toast to the brave old goose, he also has a bar named after him which is located within Leadenhall Market itself (follow this link for more information). 

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One response

  1. An intriguing tale indeed, all the better for a happy ending!

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