Only for a two days, and it was an advertising takeover stunt, but Westminster tube station temporarily became Westminster Jungle station.
The Times newspaper said that the “campaign reflects the increasingly raucous state of politics, breaking out of the confines of a zoo, into the wilderness of the jungle”. The animals have broken free from their benches and nature has taken over, as they roam the jungle and take hold of the House of Commons.
The practicality of the planting around the entrance to the tube station was looking awkward by the end of the first evening, with some looking as it had been yanked away.
The main impact was on the concourse level, with large vinyl sheets covering the walls and the barriers lining the escalators. Apart from the roundel changes to the station name, audio announcements also referred to the station as ‘Westminster Jungle’.
It’s undeniably another step in the comercialisation of the London Underground to raise money from streams other than ticket sales.
As for the campaign itself, it’s quite a clever one, and the aesthetic, in dark greens not so garish that people get a migraine simply stepping onto a tube train. Those of us with long memories, and copious supplies of headache pills will remember the Yellow Pages takeover with a shudder of horror.
The station renaming as Westminster Jungle lasted two days — the Tuesday and Wednesday, but the advertising sheets and jungle walls are up until 3rd November.
The idea that Westminster is a jungle is also not entirely fanciful, as the area was once roamed by elephants and hippos when the country was much warmer, and Thorney Island where Westminster sits was much more marshy.