Lambs to the Slaughter

Shepherd's Bush sheep are wiped out

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Little Bo Peep is not the only one who has lost her sheep, it seems.

The woolly creatures which used to decorate the subway walls, leading the way from Shepherd’s Bush to Holland Park, have gone – wiped out, not by foot and mouth, but by a coat of fresh, white paint.

“The underpass has been painted by Westfield prior to the opening of the shopping centre,” said Transport for London, which owns the subway.

Now that the dirty but colourful sheep have gone, the subway looks clean and bright – or completely sterile, depending on your outlook. The only survivors from the flock are the sheep on the overhead signs leading down underground.

Despite earlier uncertainty over the future of the underpass, TfL say it will remain in operation: “There are no plans to close the subway,” they told

“Westfield are also preparing to put in a road-level Toucan crossing across the A3220 and this should be installed soon after the centre opens. When the crossing is open, the subway will be closed for further refurbishment works but will reopen. Both the crossing and subway refurbishment will be paid for by Westfield,” TfL said.

TfL already installed extra lighting into the subway earlier this year after residents complained that they felt unsafe using it at night time.

Now, the fresh coat of paint has not only changed the appearance of the underpass, but the aroma too: it has completely wiped out the ever-present smell of urine. It remains to be seen whether those who have been using the subway as a toilet will now find somewhere else to relieve themselves.

The painted sheep represented an important aspect of Shepherd’s Bush’s history: it is thought that Shepherd’s Bush got its name because the common land used to be used as a resting place for shepherds on their way to Smithfield Market in the City, where they would have traded their livestock.  

Yasmine Estaphanos

28 October 2008