On the pressing need for a mascot
Despite the ensuing satisfaction felt by King’s, it became clear that the honour of the College had not really been restored. UCL had after all regained their mascot, while King’s had none.
Soon after, a giant papier mâché beer bottle, measuring about 5 or 6 feet in length, appeared at rugby matches. It was jealously guarded by the King’s engineers, who had been at the forefront of the battle for Phineas. They had ‘wittily’ called this new mascot ‘Bottled Youth’. However, Mary Edwards, King’s College Senior Woman Student in 1923, was not impressed:
‘It was a poor, ugly and pretty pointless thing and very inappropriate as the College Mascot. The Women’s Common Room and other students took a dim view of the Engineers’ choice and started an agitation to get rid of the beer bottle and replace it – a lion for instance, to be in keeping with the College Coat of Arms.’
Mary Edwards was instructed to find such a lion. At the time, ferocious-looking red lions were a popular inn sign in this part of London, and Mary well remembers setting off hopefully, early on a foggy morning, with the Women’s Common Room Secretary, Margaret Robinson, to ask any and every publican in the area whether they would care to surrender their lion. They tried Whitehall, the South Bank, Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Charing Cross Road and so on! They got nothing but blank refusals.
But Mary and Margaret were young, and had too much faith in human nature to give up. Eventually, Ewarts Geysers on Euston Road agreed to sell them his lion for the rather large sum of £7. It was made of beaten copper and his paw rested on a globe.
For some unfathomable reason, the lion was originally called ‘Lucy’, which rather neglected the fact that with his mane and other attributes of not inconsiderable size, he was unquestionably male. The Engineers’ took it upon themselves to protect this new Mascot and suggested ‘Rex’. Finally, at a special meeting of the King’s College Union Society in December 1923, the copper lion was officially adopted as the College Mascot and with much enthusiasm was christened ‘Reggie’.