It’s not often that we feature living people in ‘Famous Londoners’, but this prominent figure, albeit not a human, deserves special mention.

Larry_the_cat_No10A resident of Number 10 Downing Street in Whitehall, Larry the cat is officially Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office – a position for which he has won accolades (and, at times, reproaches, for a seeming lack of action in the face of invasion – this includes, most recently the arrival of a heron at the residence, with Larry nowhere to be found).

Larry arrived at Downing Street (then home to Conservative PM David Cameron) in February, 2011, then a four-year-old tabby who came from the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in south London and was apparently recruited to deal with a rodent problem after they were spotted in news broadcasts behind correspondents. It was June, some four months later, before he apparently made his first kill.

Larry has had an at times prickly relationship with the media – it started soon after his arrival at Downing Street when he scratched ITV reporter Lucy Manning who was trying to get him to pose for a news item (you can see it here).

He’s also apparently had some run-ins with visiting dignitaries – although US President Barack Obama apparently was able to stroke him without incident – and with Freya, Chancellor George Osborne’s cat (who has since been exiled to Kent).

Larry isn’t the first cat to live at Downing Street – his predecessors include Wilberforce who lived there for 18 years during the tenure of PMs including Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher, and Humphrey, who served Ms Thatcher, John Major and, briefly Tony Blair, before he retired in 1997. But Larry is the first who has officially held the title of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.

PICTURE: HM Government (via Wikipedia).

Advertisements

Around London…

October 7, 2010

• A new online portal showing the history of women through their relationship to buildings around the UK – including in London – has been launched. Visible in Stone: A history of women through buildings, 1850-1950 is the work of English Heritage in conjunction with the London Metropolitan University Special Collections, The Women’s Library and TUC Library Collection. Among the collection of historic photographs, posters and advertisements are the stories of many London buildings – everything from the 18th century Unitarian Chapel at Newington Green in the city’s north where women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft found “support and stimulation” when founding her school, to the Harrod’s Shoe Lounge as it looked in 1919, and the first public conveniences built for women (the Ladies’ Lavatory Company opened its first, near Oxford Circus, in 1884). English Heritage is also asking people to upload images of buildings that played a role in the lives of their grandmothers. To do so, head to www.flickr.com/groups/visibleinstone.

• Milestones passed in the past week include the 15oth celebration of London’s Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The charity was founded in October 1860 by Mary Tealby after she found an abandoned puppy and commenced caring for it and other lost dogs in a disused stableyard in Holloway. Writer Charles Dickens was among it’s early supporters. The home has cared for more than 3.1 million animals since it was established (it started caring for cats in 1883) and in 2009 took in more than 10,000 dogs and cats. For more information, see www.battersea.org.uk.

• Lastly, London’s free Metro newspaper is holding a ‘Postcards from the Future’ competition showing images of London as it might become should our worst fears about the impact of climate change be realised. View a gallery of stunning images (or find out how to enter) here.