Preserving the Past: A Daughter’s Dedication to Illuminate Ilford’s Mammoth Legacy, Securing a Five-Year Exhibit Commitment

IMAGE: L-R Hannah Chowdhry, Wilson Chowdhry and Gerard Green from Redbridge Museum.

In 2015, after a four-year campaign, the East Ilford Betterment Partnership received a £50,000 replica of the renowned Ilford Mammoth (click here), discovered on Ilford Lane 150 years ago, courtesy of the Natural History Museum. In January 2024, the Redbridge Museum finalized an agreement to extend the hosting of the Mammoth skull for an additional five years until 2029. This commitment ensures that the captivating artifact will continue to be a prominent feature at the museum, providing visitors with ongoing opportunities to marvel at and appreciate this significant piece of prehistoric history.

The initiative to craft a replica commenced when seven-year-old Hannah Chowdhry, inspired by the Ilford Mammoth account she encountered at the Natural History Museum, approached her father, Wilson Chowdhry, with a fervent request to bring it back home. Recognizing the impossibility of obtaining the original bones from the Natural History Museum (NHM) – a decision that makes perfect sense given their broader accessibility and enhanced safety within the NHM – Hannah, along with her father, embarked on the ambitious journey of creating a new replica of the Mammoth skull for installation in Redbridge.

IMAGE: The challenges faced by Hannah Chowdhry in bringing the mammoth back to Ilford are honored on two message boards situated near the skull.

Interestingly, during the endeavor to produce a new replica, the NHM graciously offered an existing replica currently in use within their mammalian exhibition. This generous gesture not only facilitated the realization of the project but also underscored the collaborative spirit between individuals and institutions striving to celebrate and share our rich natural history.

We strongly believe that our borough should proudly celebrate its enviable pre-history. Consequently, we have generously loaned the skull, fashioned from the original bones, to the Redbridge Museum. Currently, it is prominently displayed on their mezzanine floor, easily accessible via the library’s central staircase.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, expressed, “The meticulously crafted commemorative replica undoubtedly captures the essence of the original bones from which it was cast. This replica serves as a poignant tribute to the extinct animal, finding its final resting place in the very location of its birth, life, and demise.”

IMAGE: In 2012, Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the East Ilford Betterment Partnership, installed a plaque at Ilford Methodist Church to commemorate an ancient mammoth. Professor Adrian Lister from the National History Museum accompanied him during the installation.
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