Mandela Way T-34 Tank

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The Mandela Way Tank in November 2020

The Mandela Way T-34 Tank, nicknamed Stompie, is a decommissioned Soviet-built T-34-85 medium tank, which used to be located on the corner of Mandela Way and Page's Walk in Bermondsey, London, England.[1][2] The tank was regularly repainted in a wide variety of colour schemes, often by graffiti artists. In January 2022 it was temporarily removed for restoration.


The tank is a former Czechoslovak People's Army tank that is said to have taken part in the suppression of the Prague Spring uprising in 1968.[1][2] Following the "Velvet Revolution" and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, it was decommissioned and sold, and was used as a prop in the making of the 1995 film Richard III in London. On completion of the film, it was bought in 1995 by Russell Gray, a local scrap dealer,[3] for £7,000 as a present for his son. He had previously failed to secure planning permission from Southwark Council to redevelop a vacant plot of land that he owned; and so, in an act of humorous protest, he placed the tank on the site, with its gun turret turned towards the council offices. He had previously allegedly obtained permission for the installation of a "tank" there, assumed by council officials to mean a septic tank.[1][2]

The tank is nicknamed after the South African anti-apartheid activist James "Stompie" Seipei.[4][5]

It was removed for restoration by its owner, on 4 January 2022, who said that "it might be a week, it might be two years".[6]


The tank is regularly repainted, and its colour scheme changed, often by local graffiti artists. In 2002 it was painted pink by Cubitt Artists and Aleksandra Mir.[7] In April 2017 it was temporarily repainted by artist Charlotte Meldon to its authentic military olive drab. In April 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, it was painted sky blue in support of the National Health Service.[8] Remembrance poppies were added in November 2020. In July 2021, it was repainted light green with dark green letters reading "Go Go Green".


Similar graffitied tanks[edit]

There are also T-64 and T-72 tanks that have been graffitied in a hippie manner at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Monument to Soviet tank crews was a memorial located in Prague, Czech Republic, made up of an IS-2m tank on a pedestal. In 1991, the artist David Cerny painted the tank pink and hoisted a large middle finger over the turret in protest against the controversial monument. The monument was later removed and the tank is now displayed at Military Museum Lešany, painted pink.


  1. ^ a b c "Stompie: the Mandela Way T-34 Tank". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Hoare, Martin (16 August 2019). "Out and about with the hidden histories of Kennington and the Elephant and Castle". The Historian. Historical Association. 142: 42–46.
  3. ^ Wade, John (30 April 2017). London Curiosities: The Capital's Odd & Obscure, Weird & Wonderful Places. ISBN 9781473879133.
  4. ^ Stompie the Tank in South London, Laura Porter,, Accessed 5 August 2021
  5. ^ Stompie, Hidden London, Accessed 5 August 2021
  6. ^ "Stompie the Tank removed from Bermondsey 'for restoration'". Southwark News. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  7. ^ Gibbs, Jonathan (2 November 2003). "Talk of the Town: Pink Tank". The Independent on Sunday. Archived from the original on 4 September 2005.
  8. ^ Salisbury, Josh (24 April 2020). "Tanks to the NHS! Iconic Bermondsey tank given makeover to thank nurses and doctors". Southwark News. Retrieved 26 April 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29.579′N 000°04.962′W / 51.492983°N 0.082700°W / 51.492983; -0.082700