The Concrete Elephant

The Concrete Elephant celebrated its Golden Anniversary and has been a well-loved local landmark ever since it's arrival in the 1960s.

Recently, the Concrete Elephant provided the inspiration for ROSEi our Recycling Elephant. As the newest member of the Recycling Team, ROSEi (Recycle Old Small Electrical items) has been a very busy elephant promoting the Batteries & Small Electricals Collection Service.

The story behind the Concrete Elephant

The beginning of the story can be traced back to the 18th century and is an interesting tale of two families with a variety of practical skills. Exotic wallpaper hanger and builder combine their histories to become pioneers in reinforced concrete.

Trollope and Colls Ltd can trace their origins back to 1778. The company was formed from two distinct family businesses. The first business was that of Joseph Trollope, a specialist wall paper hanger based in Westminster and that of Colls and Sons a painter and decorator, originally from Camberwell. Over the following decades, and generations, both businesses progressed more towards building and construction. The Trollope family evolved the business to include not only wallpaper but interior design, estate agency and cabinet making. The Colls family developed from painting and decorating to plumbing, glazing and building work. In 1903 the families combined their expertise and a new company, George Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons Ltd, was formed.

During the First World War, A.B Howard Colls became a pioneer of reinforced concrete and the firm came to specialise in civil engineering. Their work extended to reinforced concrete pipes for drainage, then later to suburban housing, garden cities and work in the Far East.

More detailed information is available from The London Metropolitan Archive (LMA)

The Artist behind the elephant

The Concrete Elephant was created by Barbara Jones for Trollope & Colls for the 1963 Lord Mayors Show. This was an impressive and creative showcase for the company's engineering skills.


Barbara Jones was born in Surrey in 1912 and studied mural decoration at the Royal College of Art. As graphic designer, writer and broadcaster, Jones championed the popular arts and produced work for a number of important exhibitions including;

  • 1947: Britain Can make It
  • 1951: Festival of Britain

Further information about Jones is available from the Design Council Archive at the University of Brighton