Above: One of two dragon figures at the southern end of London bridge.
The coat of arms of the City of London shows the shield of St George (a white background with a red cross) with a dagger in the top left quarter (which is the heraldic device of St Paul, the patron saint of the City). Either side of the shield is what is known as a ‘supporter’ which, in this case, is a dragon.
Beside Lower Thames Street, in Victorian times, was built the Coal Exchange and the building was decorated by two large dragons. Amid cries for its preservation, the building was demolished in the 1960s but the two large dragons were rescued from the exterior and each mounted on a plinth to mark the boundary of the City of London when approached from Westminster, along the Victoria Embankment.
The design of those dragons was copied and smaller replicas were placed either side of each road that led to the City of London. There are also a pair on the southern end of London Bridge and the one on the east side is shown in the picture. These dragons are probably the most photographed of all of them because so many tourists start their visit to the City of London by walking over London Bridge. They are one of the first curios that visitors see.
Having photographed the dragons on many occasions, I am always looking for original angles. Taking pictures of many of the dragons usually produces a good photo of the metal figure against an untidy background of London’s endless traffic. It has to be said that the surroundings of the two dragons on London Bridge are rather uninteresting offices. However, by standing some distance to the south of one of the dragons it is possible to take a picture with a backdrop of the glass windows of the newly refurbished Stock Exchange building some distance away in the City. That building was in use as the Stock Exchange until 2004 when the organisation moved to new premises in Paternoster Square. The old building, beside Capel Court, which had a rather grim concrete exterior, was re-developed with a modern glass exterior being skilfully added.