Meet the Ilford mammoth

Meet the Ilford Mammoth

Published: 11 June 2024

You may be familiar with the bee that Manchester has adopted, or the bull as the official sidekick for the people of Birmingham. Ilford is now giving prominence to one of its own local Ice Age inhabitants, the mammoth.

The mammoth’s history in Ilford will soon be told around the town centre, on digital screens, hoarding and banners on the High Road. Redbridge Museum is in the final stages of being completely redeveloped and will soon open featuring a special display about Ice Age discoveries in Ilford.

How do we know that mammoths lived in Ilford?

The discovery of mammoth proportions was unearthed in Ilford in 1864, when workers were digging clay to make bricks, close to Ilford Lane. The bones they found turned out to be one of the best-preserved mammoth skulls ever found in Britain and around 200,000 years old. Ilford at this time was probably open grassy plains, called a steppe, and these enormous creatures would have eaten grass and moss. The bones had been preserved by the Thames that used to flow through the area.

The original skull is of such significance it now resides in the Natural History Museum. You can see a life-size replica of the mammoth skull near Redbridge Museum in Redbridge Central Library, where it proudly looks over the main staircase.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said, “Ilford has an incredible history and we want everyone to be able to celebrate its roots, which we can see right back to the Ice Age. That’s why we’re not only telling the story of our town, but we’re bringing it to life by adopting the mammoth as our mascot!

"When we asked local young people their thoughts on having a mammoth as a town mascot, they told us it was a solid, strong, resilient and majestic animal. This description is apt for the ages-long history of Ilford and befits our larger-than-life town centre, which buzzes with its independent shops, markets, food fairs, and outdoor arts performances. 

"Anyone visiting Redbridge Museum can meet the mammoth skull replica face-to-face and can find out a bit more about some of the other impressive creatures that once called Ilford home.”

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