Stompie

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


Stompie

 
Stom­pie, or sim­ply the Bermond­sey tank, is a non-func­tion­al Sovi­et T‑34 bat­tle tank that since 1995 has stood on a small piece of waste ground near the west­ern end of Man­dela Way in south Bermond­sey.

It was named Stom­pie by own­er Rus­sell Gray, a local res­i­dent, in mem­o­ry of James ‘Stom­pie’ Moeket­si (1975–89), who was kid­napped and mur­dered by mem­bers of Win­nie Mandela’s body­guard. This seems a curi­ous choice. Did it per­haps rep­re­sent the owner’s resent­ment of the use of Nel­son Man­de­la’s name for a Bermond­sey street, yet couch­ing his objec­tion in a polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect way? That’s pure­ly this author’s spec­u­la­tion. Maybe it just seemed like a good name for a tank.

At first, var­i­ous author­i­ties took a dis­ap­prov­ing inter­est in Stom­pie. South­wark coun­cil placed a ‘remove for dis­pos­al’ stick­er on it, and ques­tions were raised regard­ing its absence of plan­ning per­mis­sion. The Min­istry of Defence demand­ed to know whether it had been prop­er­ly decom­mis­sioned, lest some mis­cre­ant should clam­ber aboard and rum­ble away down the Old Kent Road. But late­ly it seems to have been left alone.

The tank has been artis­ti­cal­ly repaint­ed on sev­er­al occa­sions (and then adorned with graf­fi­ti).
 
Stompie, seen in early 2009